Here are previews for today’s six games. As always, start times are determined according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).
NY Islanders @ Philadelphia
While the Devils get all the credit for being the hottest team in the Atlantic (to be fair, they are), the Islanders have quietly kept close behind them with only three less points in one more game played. Perhaps the Flyers will help to remind the Isles that they need to go back into tank mode, though.
Dallas @ Detroit
The Brad Richards saga slightly obscures (yet underscores) the desperate situation the team is in, as the Stars are 2-10-1 in their last 13 games. They’ll be the team with the most to lose, but will that be enough against deadly Detroit?
Toronto @ Montreal
To keep their slim playoff hopes alive, the Maple Leafs must first solve Carey Price in Montreal. The Habs goalie holds two consecutive home shutouts against Toronto. (Edit: Apparently the Leafs won’t have to bother, because Alex Auld will start instead. Hey, that’s one way to keep Price’s shutout streak alive … )The Canadiens have something to play for too, as they hope to get back into the Northeast Division race against the Bruins.
Chicago @ Nashville
With wins against the Penguins and Blues on Sunday and Monday as well as points in five of their last six games, the Blackhawks placed themselves back into the mix lately. They can keep frog the Predators by beating them in regulation tonight in a game that has big implications for the Western Conference playoff bubble.
St. Louis @ Vancouver
The Blues can’t seem to distinguish themselves as legitimate contenders or serious cellar dwellers, leaving them in a dismal purgatory right now. Then again, the Canucks are likely to push them a little closer to the bottom tonight.
Minnesota @ Los Angeles
Speaking of games that have a big impact on the West bubble like Chicago-Nashville, this game features the fifth-ranked Kings hosting the sixth-ranked Wild. The Kings finally play in Los Angeles again after going 6-1-3 in their 10-game road trip. This is a pretty big game for both teams (and other West teams if it goes into overtime).
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.