The Los Angeles Kings coughed up a 4-0 lead in the 2011 playoffs, but there was still the sense that the St. Louis Blues were doomed to go to the Staples Center down 2-0 after that wild first period. Aside from an early second period tally, the Blues never really seemed to have a shot as the Kings won 5-2 to take that 2-0 series lead.
Let’s get to the questions.
Are the Kings the best eighth seed in ages? They came into the regular season with plenty of hype and finished the regular season scalding hot. As much as the Blues and Canucks might have regrets, Los Angeles deserves credit for making good on those expectations – even if they’re doing so later than expected.
Is 2012 the year that casual hockey fans know the name Anze Kopitar? He scored two goals and was simply too much for the Blues tonight.
If Jaroslav Halak isn’t good to go in Game 3, can St. Louis trust Brian Elliott to get the job done? If not, should they go with untested prospect Jared Allen or reach deeper into the minors?
Going deeper, what exactly must St. Louis do to get back into this series? Are they already toast?
Here’s one area of obvious improvement: the power play. Sure, the Kings are 0-for-9 in the series themselves, but they’ve just been killing time in many cases. Lou Korac points out that St. Louis was 0-for-9 in Game 2, 0-for-12 in the playoff series and a stunning 0-for-23 including the regular season. Oh yeah, they’ve also allowed three shorthanded goals in this series … so that’s not good.
Coyotes consider Mike Smith (lower body) week-to-week
The Arizona Coyotes received (mostly) good news on Sunday: Mike Smith‘s injury isn’t believed to be “severe,” even if he’s considered week-to-week, according to reporters including TSN’s Darren Dreger.
While Louis Domingue and Justin Peters isn’t the sort of goalie duo that will make shooters think twice about firing the puck, they’ve both at least fairly experienced netminders.
(Considering Smith’s struggles with injuries and inconsistency, it’s not surprising that Arizona invested in a little insurance in Peters.)
Domingue is slated to start in net for the Coyotes against the New York Rangers on Sunday. It’s been a bumpy start for him so far, but Arizona has at least a theoretical advantage in that the Rangers played on Saturday.
As far as when Smith will be back? Well here’s a slight idea.
Dave Tippett does not think Mike Smith will be ready for home game vs. Colorado on Oct. 29, but he is not far from getting back on the ice.
Chances are, plenty of hockey fans – and maybe some members of the Colorado Avalanche – were uttering that question after Saturday night.
Well, we know this about Shane Harper: he scored his first two NHL goals at age 27, helping the Florida Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.
You can watch both of Harper’s goals in the recap video:
Harper also drew enough ire from the Avalanche to get into a bit of a skirmish following a hit.
So, who is Shane Harper?
For one thing, he’s from Valencia, California and did not go drafted.
His best junior season came in 2009-10, when he scored 42 goals and 80 points for the Everett Silvertips. He’s become quite the seasoned AHL veteran since then, and while his numbers won’t wow you, he did do enough in 2014-15 to maybe turn a head or two. Harper scored 32 goals and 50 points for the Chicago Wolves that season.
You can tell his teammates were happy for him – gentle ribbing and all – when the media asked about his career milestone:
On paper, you’d think even a wounded Dallas Stars team would handle its business against a tired Columbus Blue Jackets squad at home.
Instead, the Stars didn’t have much to show for their efforts on Saturday night beyond Jamie Benn fighting Brandon Dubinsky. They lost 3-0 and left their head coach shaking his head.
“That was as flat as flat could be,” Lindy Ruff said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “There’s no disguising it. For me there’s some concern because that’s really two games in a row where we were outskated …”
Ruff added that “there was no emotion inside that game.”
After falling to 2-2-1 on this young season, Ruff admits that he has concerns about the Stars’ “whole defense right now.”
While the Stars are picking up the pieces, the Blue Jackets beat the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday and Dallas on Saturday. Those teams are off to tough starts, but that’s still an impressive haul for an embattled Blue Jackets group.
Considering the sour feeling for Dallas and the renewed spirits for Columbus, it’s remarkable what a difference two losses or wins can make.
But, hey Stars fans, a Benn fight at least gives us an excuse to recall this great photo of his bout with Joe Thornton: