With all the dynamic firepower in the Chicago lineup, it makes little sense that the ‘Hawks finished at 15.2 percent this year — 26th in the NHL.
Armchair pundits have spent countless hours trying to solve the slumping man advantage, and one theory in particular always seems to get mentioned:
What if the ‘Hawks just loaded up the first unit?
Yesterday, Joel Quenneville got on board.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Quenneville stockpiled the No. 1 unit at Monday’s practice, with forwards Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews joining defenseman Brent Seabrook. Those players combined to score 27 of the Hawks’ 42 goals with a man advantage this season — the only real offensive threat not on the No. 1 unit was Duncan Keith.
The ‘Hawks realize that if they’re going to put some pucks past white-hot Coyotes goalie Mike Smith in the opening playoff round, they’ll need to do it with the man advantage. It’s likely that Sharp would play one of the points alongside Seabrook, allowing the trio of Toews-Kane-Hossa to do their thing down low.
“Having Jonathan back, it gives a new look,” said Hossa, who led Chicago with nine PPG this season. “We have to work hard and have somebody in front of the net otherwise it doesn’t matter who we have on the power play. It won’t work if you have a goalie like Smith in the net.
“We want to make sure we have traffic and keep shooting the puck maybe from the beginning.”
There have been times this season when Chicago deployed a more balanced approach when it came to the first and second units — but that appears to have gone out the window. The second unit during Monday’s practice was forwards Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger and Andrew Brunette along with defensemen Duncan Keith and Johnny Oduya.
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.