That rumbling you hear coming from Lake Ontario is the sound of Maple Leafs fans getting into the playoff race.
The Leafs took down the Canadiens in Montreal tonight 5-4 on the strength of a four point night from Phil Kessel. Kessel had two goals and two assists while his linemate Tyler Bozak finished the night with two goals and an assist. The win gets Toronto to within four points of the eighth spot in the East behind Carolina and puts them one point ahead of Atlanta for 10th in the east, one point behind Buffalo.
Montreal got the early lead thanks to a goal from Jeff Halpern but the Leafs got it all back fast in the first period scoring three quick goals on tonight’s starter Alex Auld. Kessel’s two goals and Brett Lebda’s first goal as a Maple Leaf chased Auld from the game after just 13:02. Upon Carey Price’s entrance to the game, the Canadiens were able to mount a comeback and tied the game in the second period thanks to goals from Mike Cammalleri and James Wisniewski. Tyler Bozak would make sure Montreal got the lead back heading to the third scoring his first of the night.
In the third, the teams traded goals again as Tyler Bozak scored his second to give the Leafs a 5-3 lead. Max Pacioretty would make things interesting scoring a goal with under three minutes to play, but James Reimer would make it all hold up in the end for Toronto as he finished the game with 31 saves and another Leafs victory, their fourth in their last five games.
While it’s incredible to see the Leafs crawl out of the basement in the Eastern Conference and the thought of Toronto getting in the playoffs is thrilling (hey, who doesn’t want an insane, rabid fan base getting in the playoffs?) the dose of reality awaiting Toronto in the schedule is a bit of a drag.
With 21 games left to play, ten are at home and they aren’t easy. Two games each with Pittsburgh and Buffalo as well as match-ups with Philadelphia, Boston, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Washington, and Montreal. Their 11 remaining road games aren’t much better with trips to Detroit, Philadelphia, Carolina, Boston, and New Jersey among others. If the Leafs can battle through all that and still make the playoffs, they will have earned it and they’ll be battle tested and ready to go in the postseason.
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.