Jan 18, 2009, 10:18 PM EDT
The Flyers begin their first meaningful road trip of the season tonight, a slate of five games that includes a pair of first place Western Conference opponents in San Jose and Colorado. Tonight's appetizer is the Los Angeles Kings, who are off to a very solid start themselves at 13-7-2, good for second place in the Pacific Division, and looking like a legitimate playoff contender for the first time since '02.
The Kings are currently led by 22-year-old Anze Kopitar from Yugoslavia, and he appears poised for a breakout season. He's currently third in the NHL in goals scored with 14, nearly halfway to his career high of 32, which also happens to be his total points so far, currently good for best in the league. Kopitar made it to his first All Star game last season, but the secret is officially out on this guy. They'll need to put a body on him tonight.
Lucky for the Flyers, the defense is really coming into its own. Ray Emery has only allowed two goals in six of their last seven games, not coincidentally picking up the W each time. Emery has been excellent in net, but the guys in front are blocking a ton of shots and have cut down on a lot of the silly turnovers that have come back to bite them so often in the past. Anyway, it will actually be Boucher in goal for just the second time this season, so we hope the D can continue to deflect some of the pressure.
The Flyers split the series against the Kings last season 1-1, with a shootout loss in Philly on January 3, and a 2-0 Martin Biron shutout in LA on February 25.
Overall the trip should serve as a good indicator of where this team actually stands at this early juncture. Besides two impressive victories over the Devils, they've mostly feasted on opponents at home, and were only 5-4-1 prior to their recent run. They'll also face Phoenix before coming back east for a set with the Islanders, so there's reason to believe it will be a successful tour.
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