As you heard if you watched the telecast, the Pittsburgh Penguins-Dallas Stars game really had a little of everything.
Of course, it seemingly all really started with Eric Nystrom’s controversial hit on Kris Letang, which rolled out the red carpet for a violent and captivating game. It wasn’t just about barbaric checks, though, as there were plenty of beautiful goals, ingenious passes and splendid saves.
For many purists, the sticking point will be that it also had a shootout, which ultimately resulted in a 4-3 win for the Penguins. Personally, I’ve softened on that subject merely to protect my own sanity, but I’d argue that only the bitterest anti-shootout folks would dispute the entertainment value of a shootout that was, well, a shootout.
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Ultimately Michael Ryder couldn’t match Pascal Dupuis’ effort, giving Pittsburgh the victory.
With that win, the Penguins strengthen their position in fourth place with 79 points in 63 games played. The good news is that they’re in the driver’s seat for home ice in the first round. The bummer for Pittsburgh is that the New York Rangers have seven more points and two games in hand for the Atlantic Division title (and the first seed that comes with it right now).
The Stars failed to win their fourth game in a row – and Jamie Benn’s return to the lineup – but they shouldn’t feel ashamed by their efforts. They stood toe-to-toe with one of the NHL’s marquee teams and once again find themselves alone in eighth place in the West with 71 points. That margin isn’t large – both the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings have 70 points to the Stars’ 71 with 18 games remaining for all three teams – but Dallas earned itself a solid head start in that tight race.
The only real shame is that these teams barely ever get to see each other.
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.