Kings Devils Hockey Stanley Cup Finals

Bryce Salvador is having one rich playoff run

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Of all New Jersey’s surprise success stories in the playoffs, Bryce Salvador’s scoring prowess probably ranks as the least expected.

Salvador’s game-winning goal on Saturday night was his 14th point of the playoffs, tying Drew Doughty for the lead among NHL defensemen. Adam Kimmelman points out how rare game-winners have been for Salvador; apparently, it was his first GWG since Jan. 2010 and his second career playoff game-winner.

(His other one came on April 19 … 2001).

Salvador wasn’t coy about how unusual scoring has been for him, either.

“I went 82 games without scoring, so I’ll take any goal I can get,” he said.

Scoring this often in the playoffs is rare enough for the Devils defenseman, but he isn’t far from matching career highs for a season’s worth of work. His two best career outputs were 16 points (in 76 games in 2008-09) and 14 in 79 games in 2009-10.

Apparently Salvador’s Fernando-Pisani-of-defensemen act is so unusual that it actually broke a record. His 14 points is the highest postseason point total ever for a player who produced 10 points or less in a regular season with at least 70 games played.

(Salvador failed to score a goal and had nine assists in 82 games during this regular season).

Salvador’s career stats are likely to be blissfully ignored by some NHL general manager during the off-season. The 36-year-old defenseman will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, so this postseason output isn’t just record-breaking and unlikely.

It’s also probably going to be very lucrative.

Friday’s loss serves as ‘harsh lesson’ for Blue Jackets

Jasper Fast, Nick Foligno, Henrik Lundqvist
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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.”



Kings GM says Mike Richards went into ‘a destructive spiral’

Mike Richards

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.

… Yeah.

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?