A grim mood in the morning – uncertainty over the prognosis for an injured Jonathan Quick – turned sour by night, by the time the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Los Angeles Kings, 4-2, at Staples Center.
The Kings have had many unpleasant days the last two seasons and Friday managed to find its way onto the list. Hours before the loss to the Flyers in the home opener, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi spoke with reporters for the first time since the team put its franchise goalie, Quick, on injured reserve.
Lombardi made it clear from his brief comments after the morning skate that there is serious concern about the injury, which was sustained in the final 30 seconds of the season opener Wednesday at San Jose. The next step for Quick is to get opinions from several doctors and how best to proceed with treatment and rehabilitation. It sounded as though the injury, while not exactly the same as Quick’s groin injury in 2013, is in a similar area.
If this was a preview of what the next few weeks – or perhaps longer – will look like without Quick, it was an uninviting snapshot.
After a scoreless first period, the Flyers scored four times in the second, including two goals in 48 seconds. One goal came off a bad line change by the Kings. Later, on the Flyers’ fourth goal, defenseman Mark Streit banked in a shot off Kings goalie Jeff Zatkoff.
Sean Couturier scored twice for the Flyers. Nick Cousins had two assists, as did Travis Konecny.
The Kings’ goals came from their defensemen. Drew Doughty’s shot from the left point made its way through traffic past Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth with 1:08 remaining in the second, to cut the Flyers’ lead to 4-1. Brayden McNabb pulled the Kings within two when his shot went in off Philadelphia’s Streit at 3:01 of the third.
In two games, the Kings have been outscored, 6-3. Last season, they lost their first three games – to San Jose, Arizona and Vancouver – and were outscored, 12-2.
Defenseman Matt Greene and forwards Trevor Lewis and Jeff Carter were on the ice for three of the Flyers’ four goals.
For Zatkoff, it was a tough home debut with the Kings.
He was a third-round draft pick by the Kings in 2006, and ended up with the Pittsburgh organization and played 35 NHL regular-season games for the Penguins. He signed with the Kings as a free agent in July.
His unusual career path made him chuckle.
“It’s crazy. It’s funny the way it works – everything comes back around,” Zatkoff said after the morning skate. “But I’m thrilled. I’m excited for the opportunity. It’s unfortunate the way it came about. I’ve got to make sure I don’t try to do too much. Play my game.
“I don’t know how long it is, 10 years later to finally get your first start at home. It’s pretty special.”
Veteran goalie Peter Budaj, who was called up from the Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate in Ontario, will be utilized as well. Kings Coach Darryl Sutter was asked how much Budaj will play in Quick’s absence.
“I’ve got a lot of work to do the next three or four days, really breaking down Peter’s schedule,” Sutter said. “Basically, you break down how you think he’s played against certain teams, home-road, and go from there.
“It’s performance-related now. You’ve got to honor how a guy is playing right now.”
Sutter paid tribute to Quick’s competitive nature. Zatkoff called Quick “a warrior” the other day.
“I think that’s evident around the league,” Sutter said. “That’s how he’s known, as a great competitor. With that comes injury. Quietly he’s played with a lot more injuries than probably anyone in our locker room over the years.”
Edgy? Feisty? All of the above.
“That’s part of his makeup,” Sutter said. “I think he’s looking to his teammates to do it rather than him. But I think he senses those situations pretty well and has a pretty good handle on it. … That’s why we love him, right?”