To read about the happenings in the Eastern Conference playoff bubble, click here. For recaps of six other games, check out this story. Finally, let’s take a look at the two contests that ended past most peoples’ green beer drinking nightcaps.
San Jose 3, Minnesota 2
The Wild are spiraling out of the playoff race, having gone 2-6-1 in their last nine games including another tough one-goal loss to an elite Western team. This time, it was the San Jose Sharks, as Minnesota lost four games in a row during regulation.
Niklas Backstrom was fantastic in defeat, making 47 stops as the Wild fought hard even though they came up short. According to the AP report, two of the Sharks’ three goals went off of his own teammates. He managed to help Minnesota earn a 1-1 tie in the second period despite the fact that San Jose out-shot them 21-9. Antti Niemi faced 20 less shots by going 28 for 30 in his 28th win of the season.
Joe Pavelski earned two assists and Patrick Marleau had a goal as the Sharks hit 90 points on the season, improving their Pacific Division lead to three points over the Phoenix Coyotes.
St. Louis 4, Los Angeles 0
Matt D’Agostini is quietly on a hot streak right now, having scored three goals and two assists in his last five games. That counts the Blues’ first two goals tonight, which obviously includes the game winner thanks to a relatively uneventful 17-save shutout.
Alex Pietrangelo scored a goal and assist as well, as St. Louis had a good time playing spoiler (while also making themselves more desirable for a new buyer, maybe?).
The Kings are still at fifth place with 85 points, but their comfort zone just about dried up.
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.