Flyers-Kings: Postgame Review
All good things must come to an end and for the Flyers, the winning ways that had caught on in the last two weeks came to a screeching halt with a 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
It wasn't necessarily a bad game for the Flyers as a whole, but after getting superb goaltending and catching some breaks and bounces along the way to a six-game winning streak, they ran into a team that was better defensively and elite between the pipes.
Let's get to our Postgame Review.
- Quick Wall - Both goaltenders are going to get their own points in this one. But we'll start with the star of the game.
The Flyers managed to solve Jonathan Quick once this time -- the veteran netminder for the Kings had already handed the Flyers a shutout loss. For as good as Brian Elliott has been for the Flyers, really throughout the season as much as on the six-game winning streak, Quick showed what an elite netminder is.
Make no mistake about it, the scoreboard doesn't tell enough of the story. Quick was the driving force behind two points for the Kings and no points for the Flyers. Simple as that. This was goaltending at its finest from Quick, who displayed the form that made him a Conn Smythe winner during the Kings glory years as champions in this league.
- Shut Down Defense - For as good as Quick was, the opportunities were there for the Flyers. I thought Quick was at his best on the penalty kill, when the Flyers really had great possession but couldn't finished on the chances they managed.
For the rest of the game, the Kings didn't give the Flyers much to work with at all. Play at 5-on-5 was really no contest. The Kings were the better team.
This is a very good defensive team and when you not only get it on the back end but get guys like Drew Doughty activating on offense and Alec Martinez finding a way to score, you're getting contributions of all forms in putting together a complete game.
The Kings didn't have many flaws or mistakes, but that was even more noticeable when they had to defend in their own zone. Quick made some difficult saves, but gave up a lot of rebounds too. The problem for the Flyers was that whenever there was a rebound, there was no one in Orange anywhere close. The Kings boxed out the front of the net and didn't allow the Flyers to get the greasy goal they needed to tie the game or get back in the game down the stretch.
- Moose on the Loose - Yes, Brian Elliott, who was named the NHL's second star of the week on Monday, had a bad game.
He still made 21 saves on 25 shots and came up with a few highlight-reel saves, but the Kings really got in his face a lot and crashed the net.
If anything, while Elliott had some nice saves to go along with some shots he'd probably like back, he didn't look as comfortable as he has in the past on this streak. But if anyone was due for a night like this, it was the netminder who has essentially carried the team through the last 15 games.
- Momentum Swings - The Kings third goal, which really seemed to put the game away, came right on the heels of a power play where the Flyers were buzzing.
Quick definitely bailed out the Kings on that one a couple times, and as the power play ended for the Flyers, the Kings came streaking up with Adrian Kempe coming out of the box.
Kempe placed a nice shot glove-side over Elliott and suddenly the Flyers near miss to tie the game at one end turned into a 3-1 Kings lead. With the way the Kings were playing defensively, that was game, set and match and the Flyers looked deflated after that.
- Master Class - Let's just give credit where it's due. In both games the Flyers have played against the Kings, it's been a defensive clinic. The way the Kings take away space in the neutral zone is masterful, and while the Flyers had chances on the power play to make a game of it, goaltending bailed them out. That can be the formula for success for a good team that contends long into playoffs in May.
The Kings have been one of the NHL's resurrection stories of the season. The team that experienced wide changes from one year to the next has come back rejuvenated and guys like Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Doughty are back to being forces as part of the core of a team that was being written off after the glory days of winning two Stanley Cups.
What the Kings were then is what Ron Hextall is trying to build with the Flyers now. And that's very much a work in progress. The Flyers weren't going to run the table for the rest of 2017 or something. If there was a game that jumped out as a potential loss on the schedule, this was certainly it. And that's where the Kings deserve credit. They were the hungrier team and the team that executed their gameplan more effectively in a game where both teams had chances.
Now the Flyers have to find the right response. This doesn't changes anything they were working and building toward. One loss doesn't derail the progress to get back into a playoff race. One loss can't shake the confidence they have build in the last few games. It has to motivated them. And they get the chance to go right back into the win column on Wednesday and end their 2017 home schedule and the five-game homestand on a high note.