If the 2013 playoffs began on Saturday night, the Dallas Stars would be the West’s eighth seed.
They beat the San Jose Sharks 2-1 to extend their surprising streak to five straight wins. To many, the most amazing part is that a team that already traded away Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy and Brenden Morrow is on fire with Kari Lehtonen on the injured list.
Richard Bachman is known almost as much for the inevitable Stephen King jokes his name demands as he is for his goaltending, but this streak could change that. He has three of the Stars’ last four wins, allowing three goals on 82 shots during that span.
Again, this win places the Stars at the eighth spot in the West with 45 points in 41 games. The slumping Red Wings hold the same point total in the same amount of games played, but while the Stars are 21-17-3, Detroit are on the short end of the tiebreaker because of fewer wins (19-15-7).
All of a sudden, the Stars’ season-closing game against the Red Wings might just have some serious stakes.
Beating the odds
Sports Club Stats still puts the odds on Detroit by a small amount; the Red Wings are given 52.2 percent odds to make the playoffs while the Stars weigh in at 42.8 percent (they saw their chances skyrocket by 10.4 percent with today’s win).
Still, the improbable is becoming increasingly probable; closing out the season with a mere 4-3-0 mark in their last seven games would give them a 68.4 percent chance to make it.
Ultimately, there’s still a long way to go, but who would have expected the Stars to get this close once that trade deadline purge began?
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.