More Sports:

November 04, 2023

Five thoughts: Flyers get royally outmatched by Kings in shutout

The Flyers were skating uphill all night in a 5-0 rout from the Kings.

The Flyers got shut out 5-0 by the Kings in an ugly one here at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday night.

You'd sooner want to forget this one if you pull for the Orange and Black, so let's just get right into it...

Royally outmatched

The Flyers have done well through the early part of the season of skating up to the level of their opponents, even when overmatched on paper, but the Kings came into town as (quietly) one of the better teams out of the West, and the difference in both skill and approach were evident Saturday night, on top of just being a bad matchup for the Flyers.

From the jump, the Kings were moving the puck with a quick, near-seamless efficiency – especially when Drew Doughty, Adrian Kempe, and Anze Kopitar were out there all at once – that led to a number of scoring chances and left the Flyers skating uphill for the majority of the first period.

LA's defense through the neutral zone factored into that as well, clogging up passing lanes and forcing the Flyers into a ton of chip-and-chase plays when they did have the puck that just weren't great for establishing sustained offense. 

And so did the Kings' outright dominance in the faceoff circle, winning 58.5 percent of the draws.

"It's a pretty deep team," Cam Atkinson said of LA postgame. "Lots of veteran guys who play the right way."

With a commitment to a structure, he continued, that the Flyers couldn't hold to themselves on Saturday night.

Sean Couturier really would've helped in this one – mainly on the top center assignment against Kopitar – but he's out and listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury right now following Wednesday night's loss to Buffalo.

For the players that were able to dress, they tried to get shots on and jumped on a few mistakes and mishandlings of the puck to get rushes going the other way, but they all either got broken up or cleared out by the Kings' skaters or stopped by Cam Talbot, who recorded the shutout in goal with 24 saves.

There was another route the Flyers had to generate scoring chances, but...

It was on the power play, and the power play is still bad

The Kings were called for four penalties Saturday night, and they killed off four penalties. 

The Flyers bounced back against the Sabres in Friday's 5-1 win up in Buffalo, but on the man-advantage, they went 0-for-2.

The 5-2 loss to bounce back from here in Philly on Wednesday: The Flyers went 0-for-3. 

For the season so far entering Saturday night, the Flyers had a power-play success rate of 10.8 percent, the fifth-worst in the NHL. 

That unit just isn't working right now. 

Following Wednesday night's loss, head coach John Tortorella said the team's decision-making on the man advantage needed to be simplified, "Not to go back into the old 'shoot the puck and look for a rebound,'" he explained. "But I think there are some shots to be taken...I think we need to simplify that and just try to generate more to the net, and then I believe things will open up for other plays after that."

But Saturday night showed they're not there yet, at least not against an LA team that entered the game with the league's 11th-ranked penalty kill (82.9 percent).

The Flyers did get some shots through, but on their second of three power plays in the second period – an interference call on LA's Mikey Anderson – they trapped themselves cycling the puck around and waiting for the perfect chance to open up as the time on it ran out (yes, there were "shooooot!" chants from the crowd on it).

An inept power play, along with an increasing number of mistakes from the Flyers as the period wore on all gave way to...

A steady collapse

The Flyers were on their heels in the first period, but hadn't been hurt just yet until Quinton Byfield threw a weirdly bouncing puck on with Adrian Kempe crashing toward the net. The puck slipped by everyone, even Kempe, who whiffed at it but still got credited with the goal (for now), but above all, Cal Petersen for a 1-0 Kings lead. 

Then LA struck again immediately, with Kopitar deflecting Matt Roy's shot from the point and in. 

Late in the second – after Cam York got called for delay of game – Arthur Kaliyev cashed in on the power play, and then Trevor Moore did too just before the period was over to make it 4-0. 

Blake Lizotte rifled a feed home from the high slot in the third to really put this one out of reach at 5-0. 

The Kings were skating downhill for the majority of this game, while the Flyers had little answer and increasingly fell apart. They were only going to be held off for so long, especially when the Flyers' man-advantages ended up not really being advantages at all.

"I think we gain a little momentum on the power play – almost score to make it 2-1," Tortorella reflected postgame. "Next thing you know, we throw the puck out of the building, we turn another one over, it's 4-0. Game over. 

"That's how quickly it can happen, and we're just not built right now to be able to come back from that."

What do they have to do? 

Obviously, everyone on the Flyers was absent from the scoresheet in this one, but numbers-wise, Tyson Foerster and Morgan Frost were quiet once again. 

It's not from any visible lack of effort, but these guys have just been banging their heads against the wall trying to find those first goals and got no closer to a breakthrough Saturday night. 

Foerster had a solid chance late in the first, chipping at the puck all the way up through the neutral zone that eventually fell to Scott Laughton across the offensive blue line. Laughton threw the puck on for the bounce back out front, and Foerster was right there to meet it, but Talbot hopped right on top of the rebound for the cover to stop play, and from behind the net, a look of disbelief on Foerster's face. 

Brutal stretch for a player who carried a lot of promise as a younger name offensively entering the season and for another who led the team offensively last season from December on. 

Early goaltending woes

Petersen held up about as well as he could in his first NHL start of the season, making a particularly impressive save early on a backhand move from Kevin Fiala streaking in. Still, he stopped 25 of 30 for the night. No goalie – no team – ever wants to let in five goals, and that the Flyers, depth-wise, had to call him up so soon with Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom both injured isn't a good spot to be in right now. 

We're far from burning through eight goalies in a season (never again), but you just hope Hart will be back sooner rather than later.

Follow Nick on Twitter: @itssnick

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports