Minnesota is proving to be the prime example of how life in the Western Conference can be rough. Last month, the Wild were looking like a potentially tough team to draw in the playoffs. After losses in nine of their last 14 games and being shutout in their last two games and compile a total of 33 shots in both games, things are feeling down in the dumps and times are desperate.
The Wild get a dose of good news today as Michael Russo of The Star Tribune tells us that they’ll get forward Cal Clutterbuck and defenseman Clayton Stoner back in the lineup against Vancouver tonight. For Clutterbuck, it’ll be his first game since receiving a blow to the head that led to Islanders forward Trevor Gillies being suspended for 10 games.
Making things all the more intriguing for the Wild is that captain and top center Mikko Koivu is a game time decision to play. Russo gives his insight there.
The big question mark right now is Mikko Koivu. The Wild’s captain, head coach Todd Richards and medical trainer Don Fuller had a long talk on the bench after the morning skate. Koivu and Richards said he’s a gametime decision. Koivu said “we’ll see” when asked if he’d skate warmups. Richards said he will skate warmups.
Richards said they were just trying to map out a plan on the bench and “it’s real, real close” to Koivu returning.
I’ve got to think he’s in. It could do more harm than good if Koivu skates warmups and then there’s all of a sudden a dejection because Koivu’s jersey comes off the hanger.
We’re inclined to agree with Russo on this one. After all, when a captain is giving it a go in warmups that’s a bit different than just another guy in the lineup. Taking the captain out when the team is in desperate need for a win and four points out of the eighth spot going against the top team in the conference is the sort of psychological kick in the groin you shouldn’t be delivering when your team needs a lift in a big way.
We don’t want to go writing any teams off before they’re eliminated, but if Koivu doesn’t go tonight and Vancouver spanks the Wild, it might be time for Wild fans to start scouting prospects for the 2011 NHL Draft.
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.