Late into the 2009-10 regular season, I took a look at one of my simple stats: special teams plus/minus. At that point in the season, the Chicago Blackhawks ranked as the second best team in that area (scoring 18 more special teams goals than they allowed) while the Philadelphia Flyers took seventh place.
The Blackhawks should be pleased that they have a 2-1 series lead because their normally stout special teams is become a big “minus” so far. NHL.com points out the growing disparity between the two teams’ specialty units.
That changed Wednesday in Game 3, when the power play went 0-for-3 and the penalty killers allowed two goals on three chances during the Blackhawks’ 4-3 overtime loss at the Wachovia Center. For the series, the Blackhawks are 0-for-6 on the power play and have allowed the Flyers to score four times in 10 chances with the extra man.
To be fair, Dave Bolland did score a significant shorthanded goal in Game 1. No doubt about it, though, the Blackhawks need to get more out of their powerplay and should also do more to limit the Flyers’ success.
The really glaring thing, for me, is the lack of powerplays for Chicago. To start the series, Chicago surprisingly didn’t get a single chance on the PP. Since then they’ve only averaged a single PP opportunity per period and overall average 2 PPs per game. Sometimes powerplay success is about the quantity of the chances you receive and the rhythm you can create while on the man advantage.
After two tough games, Chicago’s two biggest offensive weapons (Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane) finally broke free and created some offense. Perhaps the Blackhawks can get over the powerplay hump in Game 4, then? Either way, the Flyers are sticking with this series by being resourceful and creating timely offense.
Sooner or later, the Blackhawks are going to need to get their special teams in order or their near-50 year wait to raise the Cup again will need to continue.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.