Los Angeles Kings (40-25-6) at Philadelphia Flyers (38-25-7)
|Date & Time||Monday March 24, 2014, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Philadelphia Flyers / Los Angeles Kings --- Over/Under:
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
Despite their strong play it looked to most people like this would be a very difficult stretch for the Philadelphia Flyers because of the quality of their opponents. Instead of wilting under the pressure the Flyers have elevated their game to an even higher level and handled everything that has been thrown their way. Back-to-back games against the Pittsburgh Penguins? No problem for the Flyers. Matchups against the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars? Add two more wins to the total. Taking on a St. Louis Blues club that's one of the favorites to reach the Stanley Cup Finals? Again, no issue for the red hot Flyers. Philadelphia is playing their best hockey of the season right now and the difficult stretch continues on Monday with a home tilt against the Los Angeles Kings. Saturday afternoon the Flyers fell behind in the first period after allowing a short handed goal but they bounced back nicely over the final 40 minutes. Scott Harnell converted his 19th goal of the season on a carry over power play early in the second period to even the score and Brayden Schenn's 18th of the season gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead heading into the third. Despite getting outshot 11-3 over the final 20 minutes it was Philadelphia who did the only scoring, getting a huge goal from Jakub Voracek to put the game out of reach and an empty net goal from Wayne Simmonds to seal the 4-1 win. Steve Mason continues his strong play and he picked up his 30th win of the season by stopping 32 shots on the day. Mason has been a revelation for the Flyers since coming over from Columbus and it looks like the change of scenery might have helped the Flyers finally find their goaltender of the future. Mason has the pedigree and Paul Holmgren knew he was young enough to find his game again. We've seen what Mason can do in this league and he's proving it wasn't a fluke this year.
Things will stay tough for the Flyers with the Los Angeles Kings coming to the Wells Fargo Center. The Kings have been up and down of late, alternating between a winning streak and losing streak. Los Angeles snapped their three game slide on Thursday night with a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals and they followed it up with a dominating win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday. Trevor Lewis and Mike Richards scored first period goals for the Kings and Los Angeles never looked back as Jonathan Quick made 24 saves to shut out the Panthers. Dustin Brown and Alec Martinez also added goals for a Kings club that looks a lot like the one that won a Stanley Cup a few years ago. This Kings team is excellent defensively with one of the best goaltenders in the league in net and they struggle to score goals. That was exactly the case when they barely squeaked into the playoffs and then dominated as a #8 seed with tough, physical play, excellent defense, and timely goal scoring. The Kings traded for Marian Gaborik at the trade deadline and while Gaborik doesn't really fit in as a Kings type of hockey player he might be exactly what this club needs down the stretch and in the post season. Gaborik isn't going to play a physical two-way game but if Los Angeles needs someone to appear out of nowhere to score a big goal then Gaborik might be exactly what the doctor ordered. With Quick in net there's never a reason to count this team out and they're going to be an awful first round match up for whoever they play.
This is a game on Monday night between two pretty evenly matched clubs but with the Kings coming al the way to the East Coast and the way the Flyers are playing the edge has to be with Philadelphia in this one. Take the Flyers in a low scoring affair.