Dallas Stars v Los Angeles Kings

Report: Drew Doughty’s contract talks could extend to September

Some might quibble about other names (such as Luke Schenn), but ultimately this off-season featured four big-time restricted free agents. Three of them have signed new contracts to varying degrees of satisfaction, as Steven Stamkos’ deal seemed like an everyone wins proposition, Zach Parise’s one-year deal carried hints of optimism and Shea Weber’s arbitration award might as well have included foreboding clouds.

The only major RFA left is Drew Doughty, whose contract talks are putting a damper on some of the positive buzz related to the savvy moves Los Angeles Kings’ GM Dean Lombardi made so far this off-season. It seems like the world-class defenseman wants to be the highest paid King, which is a reasonable proposition since he may just be the best one. The only problem is that the other contender for that title (Anze Kopitar) already has a pretty hefty contract that carries a $6.8 million annual salary cap hit.

It’s unclear how far the two sides are really apart, but if Rich Hammond’s latest update is any indication, they aren’t exactly at the bargaining table hashing out the details day and night. Hammond reports that the Kings rolled out a long-term offer for Doughty but the two sides haven’t spoken in two weeks.

There have been no new discussions in the past two weeks. The Kings have a long-term offer on the table, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the issue extend into late August, or perhaps even into September. It’s worth noting that Doughty’s agent, Don Meehan, also represented Evgeni Nabokov when, in 2002, Nabokov held out before signing a contract with the San Jose Sharks (and then-GM Lombardi) in late October.

As for the current Doughty negotiations, Lombardi said today, “I think it’s fair to say that in the last conversation, we set the parameters, as to where we feel his contract should be. We talked about a number of scenarios, and I guess now it’s their move. They never really responded.”

Well, that doesn’t seem very promising, but Meehan (or at least his agency) is also in limbo with Schenn, so it’s not like this isn’t standard operating procedure. Beyond the most obvious issue of simply getting a deal done at some point, there’s also the worry that Doughty might be falling behind. The one bright side of Hammond’s report is that Doughty has been in contact with the Kings’ coaching staff about the hockey side of things.

We’ll have to wait and see if the dynamic defenseman will be there for training camp in September, though.

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.