After the first 10 minutes of Game 1, it might not have been shocking to hear that Game 2 of the Los Angeles Kings-St. Louis Blues contest would feature a 4-0 lead. Few would have expected the Kings to hold that advantage over the second-seeded Blues after 20 minutes, though.
The Kings already have a 1-0 series lead so the defensively solid Blues face the disturbing thought of going to Los Angeles down 2-0. Brian Elliott shouldn’t get sole blame for St. Louis generally looking flat and flustered, yet many Blues fans probably wish that Jaroslav Halak was available for relief work.
Halak is still banged up from an injury he suffered in the first round, however, so Ken Hitchcock would be forced to turn to promising but inexperienced prospect Jake Allen if he wants to make a change in net.
It’s a stunning set of events for a notably silent St. Louis crowd, so the big question is: can the Blues bounce back in Game 2 or in the series in general? We will find out as the game goes along, but 4-0 might just be too much for St. Louis.
(Although the San Jose Sharks might note to their first round opponents that the Kings aren’t unbeatable in such a scenario …)
Here’s the early Mike Richards goal that began the chaos:
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Late in the third period of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, things were looking good for Columbus.
Brandon Saad, who the team acquired from Chicago this off-season, scored his first goal of the season to give his team a 2-1 lead with under four minutes remaining in the contest.
Unfortunately for the Jackets, that’s as good as it would get.
The Rangers responded with three unanswered goals from Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello to spoil Columbus’ home opener.
“When something like that happens at the end, I think we’re gonna be a better team because of it,” defenseman Ryan Murray told reporters after the game. “It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a good one.
Luckily for Columbus, they won’t have to wait very long to try and get their revenge.
The Blue Jackets and Rangers will finish off their home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which might not be such a bad thing for Columbus.
“It’s good that we get another chance tomorrow,” Saad said after Friday’s game. “We were high on emotions (after the go-ahead goal) and they scored and it took the wind out of our sails, but we have to keep playing. We have to learn to keep doing our thing, regardless of the score.”
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?