For much of the past month, it seems like the Kings have been facing off against former teammates — from the trio of players who were traded to Winnipeg over the summer (Gabe Vilardi, Alex Iafallo, and Rasmus Kupari) to Sean Durzi in a pair of games against Arizona. Even highly ranked former LA prospect Brock Faber was in the Minnesota lineup when they faced the Wild a few weeks ago. And that common theme will be in play again on Saturday night in Philadelphia, as the Kings look for their sixth straight road victory.
Interesting moves in #Flyers land…
Carter Hart is gonna be out for a while, so Cal Petersen has been recalled.
Philly has B2B games this weekend – playing at Buffalo tonight, then host LA on Saturday.
Ersson expected to start vs. Sabres…
— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) November 3, 2023
Sean Walker, who is an inspirational story for those who chose to follow his path, will be on the Flyers blueline after being dealt to Philadelphia back in June. In part, that trade was necessary to free up cap space for Kings GM Rob Blake to ink Vladislav Gavrikov to a multi-year extension. During his time in the LA organization, Walker went from an undrafted player signed to an AHL deal to an NHL player with a regular spot in the lineup. A versatile defenseman, the 28-year-old Bowling Green graduate can play the left and right sides, as well as anchor a power play. Through 11 games with the Flyers, Walker is averaging over 20 minutes per game, has a pair of goals (both shorthanded), and is second on the team with 19 blocked shots.
It’s also very likely that Cal Petersen will be starting between the pipes for Philly. If so, it just becomes the latest note in a wild series of events. Once the goalie of the future for the LA, the 29-year-old netminder is now looking to get his game back on track. Tonight would also be an unexpected opportunity to face his old team. Flyers starter Carter Hart was injured recently, which allowed Petersen to get recalled from the AHL. However, it’s Philadelphia’s back-to-back schedule this weekend that will most likely thrust the former Notre Dame standout into action. Had the Flyers not played in Buffalo last night, there’s no real telling how they may have used their goalies today. With Samuel Ersson playing vs. the Sabres, look for Petersen in net tonight for what will be his first NHL action since coming in to play cleanup during a rather bizarre 9-8 overtime loss to the Seattle Kraken on Nov. 29, 2022.
As far as the current Kings go, their mindset doesn’t need to change much. Another two points are up for grabs and that’s all they’ll be focused on. They have been perfect on the road through five games this season and have an opportunity to continue their strong start. Ironically, given the narrative above, a key to their success early on has been the play of veteran goalie Cam Talbot. He’s posted a record of 5-2-1 with a 2.41 GAA and a .915 SV%. The only possible concern is that coach Todd McLellan can’t play him 60+ games this year, so they’ll need to get Pheonix Copley’s game dialed in at some point. With the team on a winning streak, and days off between games, McLellan often sticks to the hot hand; leading to Talbot likely getting another consecutive start in goal.
Should the Kings secure a victory tonight, they would join a list of only eight other teams who have started 6-0-0 on the road in the last 20 years. Nashville and Toronto were the last clubs to do it, back in 2018.
Quietly, Kings captain Anze Kopitar pulled into a tie for the team lead in goals with his fifth marker of the season on Thursday in Ottawa. It was his 398th career goal, moving him two shy of becoming just the fourth player in team history to score 400 goals — joining Luc Robitaille (557), Marcel Dionne (550) and Dave Taylor (432). Kopitar also sits three points back from tying Robitaille for the second-most points in franchise history (1,151) and is four assists away from tying Dionne for the most helpers in Kings history.
More than 50 years ago, in their very first NHL game, the Kings squared off with the Flyers. It’s an East-West rivalry that has provided many big games and even bigger trades for decades. Tonight, McLellan’s squad arrives in Philadelphia with recent history on their side. Dating back to the 2010-11 season, they’ve captured points in 10 of their last 11 games in the City of Brotherly Love (8-1-2). Nearly all of those 11 games have been tightly contested bouts. Out of the last 11 games played in Philadelphia between these two teams, nine have been decided by one goal. Seven of the games have gone past regulation to determine a winner; with LA coming out on top in five of the seven.
In general, if a Kings-Flyers game goes past 60 minutes, the Kings hold a decided advantage. They’re 7-4-2 all-time vs. Philadelphia in overtime and 3-0 in shootouts. It’s not just home cooking either. Six of LA’s seven overtime wins, and two of their three shootout victories, have come at the Wells Fargo Center.
LA Kings Projected Lineup vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Kaliyev
Fiala – Dubois – Laferriere
Grundstrom – Lizotte – Lewis
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Englund – Spence
Likely scratches: Anderson-Dolan, Bjornfot
Key Game Info
Puck drop is set for 4:30 pm Pacific Time and will be televised by Bally sports West.
Heading into the game, the Kings are decided favorites. See here for more info on sports betting in LA.
Across the Ice
Here’s how the Flyers lined up on Friday:
Flyers lines with Couturier out:
— Jeff Neiburg (@Jeff_Neiburg) November 3, 2023
On This Day in Kings History
On November 4, 1971, the @LAKings acquired Rogie Vachon from Montreal for Denis DeJordy, Dale Hoganson, Noel Price, and Doug Robinson. In seven seasons with the #LAKings, Vachon posted a record of 171-148-66, with a 2.86 goals against average and .901 save percentage.#GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/TxDxSbHloB
— The Kingstorian (@Kingstorian) November 4, 2023
Game day graphic created by ALo Images
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