While the San Jose Sharks hold a 3-2 series lead on Los Angeles, there are some problems with the Sharks and they all start in goal. Antti Niemi has had some problems so far in the playoffs as the supposedly offensively challenged Kings have been able to jump on Niemi for a lot of goals. Through five games, Niemi is sporting a robust in all the wrong way goals against average of 4.30 while rolling with just a .855 save percentage.
In Game 5, Niemi lasted just 8:42 after giving up three goals on four shots. In Game 3 that saw the Sharks storm back from being down 4-0, Niemi was chased early in the second period after giving up four goals on ten shots. The Sharks have been winning games in spite of Niemi and not because of him. With Antero Niittymaki backing him questions have come up as to whether coach Todd McLellan should make a change in goal. McLellan is instead sticking with the guy that got the Sharks to the playoffs and Niemi will start Game 6 tomorrow night.
Even though Niemi’s numbers are poor so far, the Sharks are still playing well enough in front of him to hold the lead in the series. The Blackhawks were able to win the Stanley Cup last season often in spite of Niemi and there’s no reason to rock the boat yet in San Jose. If Niemi gets spanked around and the Kings force a Game 7, it puts McLellan in a tough spot because that means Niemi will have given the Sharks nothing in half the games played. In a series that’s been somewhat lacking on storylines, this provides us something to keep our eyes on tomorrow night.
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.