Philadelphia Flyers vs. the Los Angeles Kings

Jan 2, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) reaches for a shot on goal by Philadelphia Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds (17) in the third period of the game at Staples Center. Kings won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 2, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) reaches for a shot on goal by Philadelphia Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds (17) in the third period of the game at Staples Center. Kings won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

There are 52 days until the Philadelphia Flyers open their regular season against the Los Angeles Kings.

On Friday, October 14th, 2016 at 10:30pm EST, the Philadelphia Flyers play meaningful hockey again as they open the 50th season in Los Angeles.  The Kings are only three years removed from their Stanley Cup parade, but last year the Flyers lost to the Washington Capitals and the Kings lost to the San Jose Sharks in the first round.

As a result, both the Philadelphia Flyers and the Los Angeles Kings will look to start their 2016 season off with a win.  That’s one of the reasons why watching this opening game against the Kings is going to be so exciting.  The Philadelphia Flyers start off their regular season against a Los Angeles Kings team that finished eighth overall in points last year (with 102).  In contrast, the Philadelphia Flyers finished five spots behind the Kings at thirteenth overall (with 92), so what kind of play can the Flyers expect from the Kings on October 14th?

The coach of the Los Angeles Kings Darryl Sutter puts his top six centers and wingers in a position to have a more skilled offensive zone entry than his bottom six.  The bottom six centers and wingers will have different responsibilities.  They will dump the puck deep into the Flyers offensive zone, move the puck possession from the center to the wing, grind the play down low along the boards, and make low-risk plays.  The Kings will look to score quickly against the Flyers, and keep the puck from the Flyers for the rest of the game by using the size of their bodies and their ability to cycle the puck.

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The Philadelphia Flyers are not built to play hockey the way the Los Angeles Kings are.  Rather than body size and puck possession, the Philadelphia Flyers are built to play hockey by skating fast and using an aggressive forecheck.  The Flyers will have to use their speed and aggression to keep the puck from the Kings rather than their size and puck cycling ability, and the Flyers will need to be the team that General Manager Ron Hextall and Coach Dave Hakstol have been trying to build.

The Flyers skating speed and aggression will have to win out over the Kings size and possession.  The Philadelphia Flyers will have to play their style of game, score first, and force the Kings to play Flyers hockey in Los Angeles.  That is going to be tough, but this is what must happen.  If the Kings can force the Flyers to play a body size / puck possession game rather than the fast and aggressive hockey they are built for, then it is going to be rough sledding in Los Angeles.

A playoff preview for the series between the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks said, “the best way to beat the Kings is for teams to play fast, creatively, and with discipline.”

The Philadelphia Flyers can certainly play fast and creatively, but playing disciplined may be another issue.  The Philadelphia Flyers finished fourth in the league overall in penalty minutes.  It appears playing disciplined is going to be the true test.  Unfortunately, that is where the image at the top of the article comes into play.  I originally picked the image for several reasons.

  1. it represented the Philadelphia Flyers vs. the Los Angeles Kings.
  2. I love how Wayne Simmonds plays (he is the Flyer pictured wearing the ‘A’).
  3. The picture is also fitting because Simmonds came to the Flyers from the Kings

After I looked into the statistics, Wayne Simmonds placed fourth overall for the entire league in penalty minutes.

The upside to that is that Wayne Simmonds is one of the best players in front of the opposing net for the entire team.  He is listed at 6’2” 186 pounds, and he is a very large human shield on skates.  He blocks the vision of the opposing goaltender and is excellent at getting the puck in net.  Whether or not all of Simmonds’ penalty minutes are deserved is not important for this article.

Philadelphia Flyers
Apr 9, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas (3) looks on during the second period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

Simmonds is 31 minutes ahead of the next Flyer on the list (here’s looking at you, Radko Gudas).  Radko Gudas placed tenth overall for the entirely league in penalty minutes.  What that means is the Philadelphia Flyers have two players who placed top ten overall for the entire league in penalty minutes.

That is not good for disciplined hockey or the reputation of the Philadelphia Flyers.  The major differences when comparing the playing between Simmonds and Gudas is that Simmonds screens the net and picks up deflection goals, and Gudas is a human wrecking ball who can also score.  Both players are incredibly fun to watch and fit the aggressive style of hockey the Flyers are being built for, but it’s also obvious that both players need to be more disciplined given the statistics if the Flyers are going to beat the Kings.

Next: Flyers: Dreams, Expectations, and Reality

A player can play disciplined yet aggressive hockey.  Simmonds and Gudas both have their roles on the team and both excel at those roles, and I am sure Coach Hakstol is teaching the entire team to play disciplined, yet aggressive hockey because no team likes to be down a man against a team like the Kings.