Takeways from the Flyers’ defeat Thursday night in Los Angeles.
1. There are no moral victories but… The Flyers were playing a second night in a row. The Los Angeles Kings were playing their season opener at home with new coach John Stevens – someone the players overwhelmingly supported for the job – in his first game. The Flyers brought energy. They peppered Jonathan Quick with 35 shots. In the third period, when their legs should have been the heaviest, they outshot the Kings, 17-6 – including an 11-1 stretch that begged for a tie game.
2. Travis Sanheim was minus-2 in his first game as a Flyer, playing a little less than 11 minutes. Paired with Radko Gudas in place of Brandon Manning, he also took a 4-minute penalty for drawing blood with a high stick, and had two shots on goal. Like Nolan Patrick the previous night, he wasn’t great, wasn’t a disaster. Neither goal was the result of any miscue on his part – a Scott Laughton turnover sprung Trevor Lewis behind him and resulted in the Kings’ second-period goal. Sanheim did not register a giveaway in his time on ice.
3. The defenseman derby: Among the three rookie defensemen, it will be interesting to see whether Sanheim or Samuel Morin suits up Saturday against Anaheim – or whether Morin replaces Robert Hagg alongside Shayne Gostisbehere. Hagg has been solid for much of the first two games, although he did take a foolish chance at mid-ice that led to a hooking call on Travis Konecny in the first period.
4. Nolan Patrick watch: 18 shifts, 14:20 of ice time, one shot, two missed nets, credited with a hit. He won two of his six faceoffs. There were flashes of what made him such a coveted pick – his first shift included a pestering takeaway in his own zone and a blast from the top of the circle that just missed the net. But mostly, he still seems to be getting comfortable in his first few games as a pro.
5. The power play: One night after generating three goals in five chances, the Flyers went 0 for 5. This might have something to do with Jonathan Quick being in the net rather than Martin Jones, and the Kings remaining disciplined on their penalty kill and not allowing Wayne Simmonds to sit in their goalie’s lap.
6. Even strength: This is the bigger issue, especially since it was such a focus this off-season. Two games into the season, the Flyers have one 5-on-5 goal. The new first line was outplayed by the Kings’ first line at the start of the game, although it created chances as the night progressed. Which leads to Observation 6.
7. Seven shots, no goals for first line. A night after Sean Couturier could not convert on six shots, he had two of his line’s seven, including a nice individual play that got him alone in front of Quick. He did not get a shot off. His skating and play-making have been fun to watch, but his finishing woes continue, and could jeopardize his spot on that line. Voracek, too, is in one of those familiar funks in which he’s thinking too much out there. With his linemates waiting for a shot at the doorstep last night, he skated himself right out of a great opportunity.
8. Michal Neuvirth. One night after Brian Elliott stopped 32 shots, Neuvirth made 25 saves and looked equally impressive. His glove grab as he moved post to post on Anze Kopitar might still have the Kings captain talking to himself.
9. Meanwhile … The fourth line of Taylor Leier, Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl was credited with nine shots on goal. Laughton, whom the Flyers protected in the expansion draft instead of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and who beat out Hobey Baker finalist Mike Vecchione for a spot on the team, registered five of those shots.
10. Ivan the Rock: One night after logging 25:35 of ice time, Ivan Provorov put in 22:43 of work, 29 shifts in all Thursday. He played near-equal parts power play and shorthanded, had four of the Flyers’ 13 blocked shots, and finished even.