LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 03: Jamie Langenbrunner #15 of the St. Louis Blues and Mike Richards #10 of the Los Angeles Kings exchange punches in the first period in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center on May 3, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Langenbrunner and Richards both were given penalties for fighting and Richards was awarded an additional penalty for slashing. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Discuss: Kings push Blues to 3-0 brink with 4-2 win


As deceptive as it might be to call the Los Angeles Kings the eighth seed in the West, it’s literally true. The on-paper talent and acumen behind the bench indicates they’re much more than that, but even so, it’s confounding that they crushed the Vancouver Canucks in round one and seem primed to do the same against the second seed in round two.

The series shifted to the Staples Center, yet that didn’t change much as the Kings bested the St. Louis Blues 4-2 to take a daunting 3-0 series lead. Let’s get the questions rolling.

  • Look, I know Jake Allen is thedefinition of “NHL-unproven,” but does Ken Hitchcock have any choice but to give him a shot? It’s not like inexperienced goalies haven’t surprised in 2012 (his name rhymes with Maiden Shmoltby.) So let me ask: should they go with Allen or play it safer with Brian Elliott -who doesn’t seem to have much confidence right now.
  • The Kings’ scoring differential through eight playoff games: 24-14. This is against the top two seeds in the West, if you needed another reminder.
  • The Los Angeles Kings opened up their second 3-0 series lead of the playoffs. They’ve also revealed a considerable “killer instinct” in answering Blues goals with resounding speed. Can they close out St. Louis quickly?
  • Speaking of which, can the Blues actually come back? What kind of odds do you give them?
  • Alex Pietrangelo collected an assist and a -1 rating in 26:34 of ice time. Maybe he’s not 100 percent, but Hitchcock used him quite a bit anyway.

Report: Kings, Richards nearing settlement

Mike Richards
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The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.

You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:

If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.

The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?