Jeff Carter

This will be a milestone night for several Flyers

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Tonight’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs will be a night to remember for several members of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek, who both joined the Flyers in the summer of 2011 as part of the Mike Richards and Jeff Carter trades respectively, will each reach the 500-game milestone.

“Oh yeah, I knew it was coming,” Simmonds told CSN Philly. “That’s a big milestone. Well, in my eyes, anyway. In my mind, that’s a lot of games.”

Voracek is just 25 years old and Simmonds turned 26 in August, so it’s not hard to picture both of them playing in another 500 contests, especially given how they’ve performed this season. Voracek has 17 goals and a league-leading 58 points while Simmonds has 18 goals and 31 points in 50 contests.

If goaltender Steve Mason starts as anticipated, it will also be his 100th game with Philadelphia. He struggled for years in Columbus after an impressive debut season, but has a 2.43 GAA and .921 save percentage over his tenure with the Flyers.

Philadelphia is going for its fourth straight win tonight while Toronto is trying to end its losing streak at eight games.

Crawford won’t talk interference ‘because I’m probably going to get (expletive) fined’

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Down 3-2 late in the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Los Angeles Kings managed to pull off an impressive comeback with two goals in the final 6:11 minutes. The first of those, scored by Tyler Toffoli, was controversial though as Kings forward Jeff Carter appeared to bump into Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford.

You can see that marker below:

After the contest, Crawford was naturally pressed for a comment on if he felt it was goalie interference and while his opinion seems evident, he didn’t want to spell it out.

“I’m not going to talk about that because I’m probably going to get (expletive) fined,” Crawford said, per the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc.

“It sucks,” Crawford said on the game as a whole, according to LA Kings Insider. “I mean, it’s frustrating. I thought we played a good game. We give up two quick ones at the end. I guess everyone can pretty much tell how we feel about that one. So there is no point in explaining it.”

The Kings and Blackhawks have been two of the most successful franchises in recent years, but this season Los Angeles has struggled to find itself. This victory could be a critical turning point for the Kings as they fight to squeeze into the playoffs. If they do so then we might end up seeing these two squads meet in the postseason for the third straight year. The last two series were for a berth into the Stanley Cup Final with Chicago winning in 2013 and Los Angeles in 2014.

Struggling Kings complete the comeback against Blackhawks

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Could it be the turning point in their season?

The L.A. Kings looked to be in serious trouble against the Chicago Blackhawks in the finale of Rivalry Night on Wednesday. Jonathan Quick had just allowed an iffy goal from Andrew Shaw less than three minutes into the third period, giving the visiting Blackhawks their third lead of the night.

Just when it looked like the Kings were on their way to another loss, the comeback started.

It was completed with a 4-3 victory for L.A. It might be January, but this felt like an extension of the previous two playoff series contested between these teams.

Tyler Toffoli, back after missing six games due to mono, scored the tying goal with Jeff Carter — he had a pair of goals tonight — standing right in Corey Crawford’s face. There was contact between them, as Carter bumped the head of Crawford.

Jake Muzzin was given credit for the fourth L.A. goal, which came less than three minutes after the Kings tied it.

It’s a big win for the Kings. Huge, even.

Trailing in the third period, they were looking at a wasted opportunity to get within one point of the Calgary Flames for the final Wild Card spot in the West. Then, all of a sudden, the comeback. The win puts them right behind the Flames and struggling Vancouver Canucks.

Now, kind of a goofy moment in the second period courtesy of Brent Seabrook, who was called for closing his hand on the puck, which was stuck under him for a few seconds as he sat on the ice in the defensive end.

According to the NHL:

A player shall be permitted to catch the puck out of the air but must immediately place it or knock it down to the ice. If he catches it and skates with it, either to avoid a check or to gain a territorial advantage over his opponent, a minor penalty shall be assessed for “closing his hand on the puck”.

A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player who, while play is in progress, picks up the puck off the ice with his hand.

After six-game absence, Toffoli (mono) back for Kings tonight

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The reeling Los Angeles Kings will get a big boost tonight when Tyler Toffoli returns from a bout with mononucleosis to face the Blackhawks.

Toffoli, 22, has been out of the lineup since Jan. 8 and has missed the Kings’ last six games, during which they’ve gone 1-2-3. Offense has been an issue; L.A. has just five goals in its last three games and the hope is that getting Toffoli back in the mix will alleviate some of those scoring woes.

Prior to falling ill, Toffoli sat tied for third on the team in tallies (12, with Jeff Carter) and had four points in his last eight games.

Voracek’s points lead is surprising even to him

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How many people’s preseason predictions included Jakub Voracek winning the Art Ross Trophy this season? The list probably isn’t that long and wouldn’t have included Voracek himself.

Still, that’s the situation we’re in as he entered the All-Star break with 17 goals and 56 points in 48 contests, which gives him a four-point edge over Tyler Seguin.

“I would be lying if I said I knew I was going to be leading the points by January,” Voracek conceded to NHL.com. “I’ve really worked hard for it. But it doesn’t mean that I was on top for 45 games and now I just let up. I’ve just got to keep working hard and try to get better.”

Part of Voracek’s success comes from his pairing with Claude Giroux, but he’s become a talented forward in his own right.

“He’s putting the work in now and he’s simplified his game,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said. “He’s shooting pucks, getting to the net, things like that. A guy with that skill, and he does the right things all the time, he’s going to produce.”

The 25-year-old forward’s rise isn’t exactly a sudden development as he had 45 goals and 108 points in 130 contests over the previous two seasons. Still, his current career-high is only 62 points, which is a mark he’s set to obliterate.

His success has been a silver lining in what has been a rough campaign for the Flyers and has made the Jeff Carter to Columbus trade look like a steal. In addition to getting Voracek, Philadelphia also got two draft picks, which became Sean Couturier and Nick Cousins. The Blue Jackets certainly didn’t get the better end of that deal, but of course the loss of Carter itself is a more complicated matter given that he went on to win two championships with Los Angeles after being reunited with fellow ex-Flyer, Mike Richards.

Carter and Richards have to be pleased with how things worked out, but the two of them have combined to score 17 goals and 48 points this season. That doesn’t match Voracek’s production.