With their season hanging in the balance, the New York Rangers are leaning on a rookie.
Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but it’s definitely something to take from today’s practice as rookie forward Chris Kreider skated on a second line with center Derek Stepan and team captain Ryan Callahan.
The Rangers are desperate for offense, especially at even strength. As such, they’re going back to the Kreider-Stepan-Callahan line that provided a huge spark in the Ottawa series.
The unit combined for six points in Games 6and 7 and were instrumental in getting New York into Round 2.
“We had a little bit of chemistry early on, from the first time we were together in Game 6 against Ottawa,” Stepan told the New York Post. “Both those guys move their legs and are really fast skaters, so we want to create space if we can through the neutral zone and create loose pucks in the offensive zone, where we can bury our opportunities.
“We have to find a way to use our bodies to free pucks and get to the net.”
“They’re very versatile, you can use them in any situation,” Kreider added. “Unbelievable all–around players, doesn’t really matter who you play them with. They have chemistry with everybody.”
If Kreider does stick with Callahan and Stepan, look for the third line to become Artem Anisimov-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust with a fourth line of Ruslan Fedotenko-John Mitchell-Mike Rupp.
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.
Kings GM Dean Lombardi ranks among the NHL’s most outspoken executives. Even so, his discussion of what he calls 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.” (Bold claim: the production part was probably the bigger sticking point.)
- 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 Lombardi and 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.