For the first time since they have been with the Los Angeles Kings, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards - forwards who used to be the faces of the Flyers - will play together as visitors at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday.
"You see them off the ice in the summer, and it's almost like you want to get ready together for the season," Flyers winger Scott Hartnell said.
Carter was sent to Columbus and Richards was traded to Los Angeles in bombshell 2011 deals. The Kings later acquired Carter, reuniting him with his close friend, Richards.
"Coming in here, they have something to prove, and it's always fun to play against some of your best buddies," Hartnell said. "You chirp at each other a little more; you give them a little extra hit, and I'm sure they'll be fired up to come in here."
Carter leads the offensive-challenged Kings with 24 goals, while Richards is having a subpar season with just 10 goals, though he is second on the team with 30 assists.
"They're great players and it's a good challenge," said defenseman Braydon Coburn, the longest-tenured Flyer. ". . ..We had a lot of great memories, obviously, with these guys, and they're good friends. They know the city well, they know the fans really well."
The last time Carter and Richards played together at the Wells Fargo Center was on April 16, 2011, a 5-4 Flyers playoff win over Buffalo.
A lot has happened since then. Carter was shipped to Columbus for Jake Voracek and draft picks who turned into Sean Couturier and Nick Cousins - and was later dealt to Los Angeles. Richards was traded to the Kings for Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and a second-round pick that the Flyers later used (with a third-rounder) to acquire Nick Grossmann.
Carter and Richards hoisted the Stanley Cup for L.A. in 2012.
Fast-forward to Monday, where the Kings will face a Flyers team that has the NHL's second-longest current winning streak (five), and is coming off wins over Pittsburgh twice, Chicago, Dallas and St. Louis, teams with a combined .690 percentage.
The Flyers are coming off Saturday's 4-1 win over the Blues, a physical team like the Kings.
"We're really confident right now," said Simmonds, who has 24 goals, including five over his last four games. "Every night we come to the rink, we're expecting to win and I don't think it matters who we're playing. We've had a really tough stretch [of games] after the Olympic break and it's going to continue to get tough and we have to keep going forward."
"We've played very physically over the last couple of weeks, which I think was the biggest difference," Voracek said. "That's why we were winning those games, and I think we showed the league we can play with everyone and that we can beat everyone."
The Kings (40-25-6), winners of two straight, thrive on their defense and standout goalie Jonathan Quick (2.01 GAA, .917 save percentage). They lead the league in goals-against average (2.01 per game) but are 27th out of 30 teams in goals scored (2.35 per game).
The Flyers (38-25-7) are more balanced - ninth in goals (2.86) and 18th in goals allowed (2.76).
In the teams' first meeting, Steve Mason made 35 saves and the Flyers, despite managing just 13 shots, won in Los Angeles, 2-0, on Feb. 1. It was the Flyers' lowest shot total in a win in franchise history.
Simmonds scored the game-winner against his ex-teammates. "Always nice to play against your old team," he said.
The Flyers recalled winger Tye McGinn (20 goals) from the Phantoms because Steve Downie is day-to-day after smashing his face into St. Louis' Kevin Shattenkirk on Saturday. . . . Claude Giroux is on a six-game point streak.