Philadelphia Flyers (22-9-5) vs. Kings (22-13-1) at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.
Five storylines to track:
1. Trash day – The lid has been shut and sealed tight. Now if the Kings can follow the rest of coach Terry Murray’s advice, they should have no problem moving on following their effort-less 6-3 loss Wednesday night at Phoenix. "We’ve just got to put it in the trash and forget about it," Murray told reporters after the game. The Kings might want to go a step further and take it to the dump themselves. Murray did cancel the morning skate....
2. Who gets off the floor? – While that debacle was taking place in Phoenix, the Flyers were sitting in Los Angeles for the first time in two years, probably cracking their knuckles and wincing as they thought about their last two performances. They lost, 5-0, at home against Florida on Dec. 20, took a few days off for Christmas and then laid an egg Tuesday in a 6-2 loss in Vancouver. So, what it comes down to, the fourth-place teams from the Eastern and Western Conferences will come in with big chips on their shoulders.
3. The leading man – Anze Kopitar had two more assists against the Coyotes to give him five in the last two games and 40 points overall, putting him on pace to surpass his career-high of 81 last season. He also moved into the league’s top 10 in scoring. Kopitar seems to be thriving since Marco Sturm moved to the top line three games ago. Sturm, acquired in a trade with Boston earlier this month, is also benefiting from the combination, totaling two goals and an assist since the promotion.
4. Payback time – Murray recently won his 100th game for Los Angeles, the fastest Kings coach to reach that mark in franchise history. He won’t admit it, but he’d probably like nothing more than to beat Philadelphia, a team he coached to a 118-63-30 record during three seasons, only to be fired after they were swept by Detroit in the 1997 Stanley Cup finals. Murray reportedly complained that his team was "choking" during the finals, prompting then-general manager Bob Clarke to fire him for "problems that existed between the coach and the players."
5. Fallen Flyers – Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger is probably most famous among Kings fans for getting burned on Kopitar’s first NHL goal, but the former Hart Trophy winner is definitely a game-changer. That’s why the Kings won’t mind not having to skate around his big body as he patrols the blue line. Pronger is out a few more weeks after undergoing foot surgery. Another cornerstone on the Flyers’ defense, Kimmo Timonen, is questionable with a sore hip, and enforcer Jody Shelley won’t be able to fight Kevin Westgarth because he was suspended for two games Wednesday for cold-cocking a Vancouver player.