LOS ANGELES -- Ed Snider walked toward the Flyers’ locker room, with a large posse in tow, and let out a Marv Albert-like ‘YES!’ as he high-fived a team employee.
Inside the locker room, with Snider walking stall to stall shaking hands and thanking his players, there was a flair of traditional Tinseltown glitz. Rapper LL Cool J, just off hosting the Grammy Awards in the same building last weekend, posed for pictures with Flyers players. Philly-bred actor David Boreanaz, star of FOX drama series “Bones,” greeted his favorite players.
More than just one of 82 games, Saturday afternoon’s 2-0 win over the Kings was particularly satisfying.
The Flyers coagulated the bleeding. And they did so without all of the Hollywood glamour or shine - grinding out a win against one of the NHL’s most physical teams.
“These were two big points that we needed to get,” Wayne Simmonds said. “LA is a big team. They like the grind it out. They got pucks deep, they’ve got big bodies and they like to play physical. I think we matched them probably hit for hit.”
The shot clock inside the Staples Center was broken. Upstairs in the press box, off-ice officials diligently counted the Flyers’ shots - they just didn’t have much work to do in that department.
The Flyers finished with 13 total shots, the fewest they’d ever recorded in a win in Snider’s 46 seasons at the helm. Once before in the Flyers’ previous 3,609 games, they had been held to just 13 shots - in Washington on Dec. 11, 1990 - but that predictably ended in a loss.
Most days, against most teams, winning with 13 shots would be an act of good fortune. Not the Kings. Especially with their muted offensive output, Los Angeles relies on defense and Jonathan Quick. Los Angeles has scored just three goals in their last six games.
The Flyers got just enough, with Simmonds’ 100th career goal coming against his former team and a late power play marker from Claude Giroux to seal it. Steve Mason pitched his third shutout of the season and his second in three games.
For the second game in a row, Saturday ended as one of the Flyers’ tightest checking games of the season. There was so little room you’d think the game was played inside a Santa Monica studio apartment.
“There wasn’t really any room out there at all,” Brayden Schenn said. “It seemed like every time you touched the puck, there was someone on you. We knew we’d have to grind it out and we did. I thought we played a heck of a game.”
With the win, the Flyers now have a chance to do something only one team in the NHL has done in 10 tries this season: win two of three in a California swing. The Flyers take on San Jose at 10:30 p.m. on Monday night.
The Flyers are now 7-1-1 all-time at Staples Center since it opened in 1999. They have not lost in regulation in Los Angeles, a one-time divisional rival, since 2003.
The important two points allowed the Flyers to slide back into a playoff spot. If the playoffs were to have started Sunday night, the Flyers - as the Eastern Conference’s 8th seed - would take on the Penguins in the first round. Teams like Carolina, nipping a point behind, have two games in-hand on the Flyers.
With 25 games remaining, it is still a tad early to be scoreboard watching.
Results matter - no one will dispute that - but the Flyers’ focus should be on the process. And Craig Berube cannot be disappointed in what he has seen from the bench in California against the big boy teams.
The Flyers put in the same effort that delivered a strong game in Orange County on Thursday night, but were rewarded with the two points to show. They also learned from their third period power play, in a critical spot, by putting two defensemen on the point to try and prevent a crippling shorthanded goal.
“I know we didn’t create a lot offensively, but I liked the battle,” Berube said. “I like the competitiveness of the team right now. They’re a tight-checking team. They didn’t give us anything. They’re a big team. I thought we did a good job defensively.”
The Kings ended up with 35 shots - and Justin Williams had a spinaround attempt that hit off the far post. By and large, most of the Kings’ shots were limited to the perimeter.
That’s because the Flyers were able to neutralize a lot of Los Angeles’ furious forecheck by getting a good jump at the far blue line. They were far more aggressive, not necessarily in pinching from the point, but keeping a closer gap. The result was fewer odd-man rushes.
“We did a good job at the blue line just holding our ground,” Berube said. “I thought our ‘D’ did a good job coming over and forcing them wide.”
Mason was significantly better with his rebound control. Even with much of the action limited to the outside, those shots can be dangerous if Mason can’t see them. That wasn’t a problem.
“It’s tough coming out here,” Mason said. “You play one game and then you’re sitting around. The time change and the jet lag catches up to you more for the second game. You have to give guys credit, working hard to take time and space on their forecheck and giving them less time and space to make plays. It was just guys who were working hard.”
Craig Berube said Kimmo Timonen, who missed just his 17th game in 7 seasons as a Flyer with a foot injury, “needs time to heal.” Timonen is listed as questionable for Monday's game against the Sharks ... The third pairing of Erik Gustafsson (21:26) and Luke Schenn (20:57) played more than the pair of Mark Streit (17:25) and Andrej Meszaros (14:45) ... Berube said he was not pleased with Adam Hall’s automatic penalty for a faceoff violation with 7:04 to play and a one-goal lead. Hall did indeed play the puck with his hand, but both hands remained on his stick. “I don’t like that call at that particular time,” Berube said. “It was not a good call.”
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