It took a bit of luck but, for the second straight year, Vancouver will enter the playoffs as the NHL’s top seed.
The Canucks beat Edmonton 3-0 on Saturday to capture the 2012 Presidents’ Trophy — though they did get some help along the way. A series of fortunate results (St. Louis’ 4-1 loss to Phoenix on Friday night, the Rangers’ 4-1 home defeat to Washington on Saturday) gave Vancouver control of its own fate heading into the Oilers game.
And to their credit, the Canucks took full advantage.
Henrik Sedin scored what would prove to be the game-winner midway through the second, his 14th goal of the year, before Samuel Pahlsson and David Booth added insurance markers in the third. Roberto Luongo stopped all 17 shots he faced for his fifth shutout of the year — his highest shutout total since 2008-09 — and barely broke a sweat in a game Vancouver dominated. The Canucks out-shot the Oilers by 25 on the night, including a 12-shot dispartiy (17 to five) in the opening frame.
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Some notes about the Presidents’ Trophy win:
— Vancouver becomes the first team to win back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies since Dallas did it in 1997-98 and 1998-99. (Note: Detroit won in 2003-04 and 2005-06, missing the year between due of the lockout.)
— Since the NHL began handing out the Presidents’ Trophy in 1985-86, only seven teams have gone on to win the Stanley Cup: Edmonton (1986-87), Calgary (1988-89), New York Rangers (1993-94), Dallas (1998-99), Colorado (2000-01), Detroit (2001-02) and Detroit again (2007-08).
— Last year, the Canucks became the first team to win the Presidents’ Trophy and lose in the Stanley Cup finals since the 1995 Red Wings.
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.