New York Islanders v Washington Capitals

Game of the Week: Strong special teams play powers Capitals to 2-1 1st period lead

After 20 minutes, the Washington Capitals are looking like a team that is on a seven-game winning streak as they take on another hot team in the Chicago Blackhawks in the NBC Game of the Week.

Washington 2, Chicago 1

If there were two themes to the first period, they would be: the Capitals’ strong special teams play and plays from the point.

Nick Leddy earned an early 1-0 leave for the Blackhawks with a shot from the point, as Matt Hendricks might have screened his own goalie in Braden Holtby. It didn’t take long for the Capitals to tie things up though, which is no surprise since they are one of the league’s best comeback teams. Patrick Sharp was unable to hold in a puck at the point during a Chicago power play, allowing Boyd Gordon to spring loose for a bombastic shorthanded goal.

Just as soon as I was going to critique the Blackhawks for playing Sharp (a forward) on the point, Jason Arnott revealed the upside of such a strategy when he fired a power-play goal past Corey Crawford in the final minute of the first to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead. (Then again, Arnott’s point presence moves the even less defensively responsible Alex Ovechkin to a much more natural wing position on the man advantage, so maybe that point isn’t totally moot.)

So far, this game has been everything one can hope for in a contest between two strong, playoff-caliber teams with 19 shots combined. Stay tuned on NBC and feel free to join our chat to follow the action.

Kings grab goalie insurance by signing Budaj

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Jhonas Enroth #1 and Peter Budaj #31 of the Los Angeles Kings stretch before a game against the Arizona Coyotes at STAPLES Center on September 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
via Los Angeles Kings
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In slightly less interesting Los Angeles Kings news than the latest in the Mike Richards fiasco, the team handed Peter Budaj a one-year, two-way deal on Friday.

The veteran goalie’s contract pays $575K on the NHL level and $100K in the AHL (though it’s $150K guaranteed), according to Hockey’s Cap.

At the moment, it sounds like Budaj will be third on the Kings’ goalie depth chart. That says as much about how things have been going lately for Los Angeles than Budaj’s work on a PTO.

As noted above, one of the more significant moves in Budaj’s favor came when the New York Islanders claimed Jean-Francois Berube off of waivers this week.

The Kings actually waived Budaj before signing him, so this has to be a relief to a goalie with a fairly robust resume as a backup.

All apologies to Budaj, but it’s probably true that the Kings would prefer not to see him at the NHL level very often in 2015-16.

Kings, NHLPA announce settlement in Richards grievance

Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers

The Los Angeles Kings announced today that they have “reached an agreement with Mike Richards to resolve the grievance filed in relation to the termination of his NHL Standard Players Contract. The terms are agreeable to all parties.”

The club said that it will not be commenting further “on the terms” of the settlement.

The NHLPA released a similar statement.

It was reported earlier in the week that a settlement was close to being reached; however, it wasn’t clear what salary-cap penalties the Kings would incur.

We’re starting to find out some details now:

How the final numbers differ from what the Kings would have incurred if they’d bought Richards out will be interesting to see. And if there are differences, how will they be justified?

Stay tuned.