It’s been almost one full month since the National Hockey League regular season began. And the supposedly upstart Edmonton Oilers continue to stumble along.
Their latest disappointment came Tuesday, when they were shut out 4-0 on home ice by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Phil Kessel led the Leafs with two goals and four points. He also had a plus-four rating, while his Edmonton counterpart Sam Gagner, returning to the lineup for the first time after missing the start of the season with a broken jaw, was a minus four.
As was Nail Yakupov, Edmonton’s first overall pick in 2012 who has one goal and three points in 12 games this year.
The Oilers remain at the bottom of the Pacific Division, with just three wins.
All this after the Oilers went out and hired up-and-coming coach Dallas Eakins, and with what many pundits consider a highly skilled group of young forwards.
The Oilers badly outshot their opponents from Toronto by a 43-26 margin. A good chunk of those shots came in the third period. By then it hardly mattered. The Leafs had a four-goal cushion.
“It’s getting frustrating,” said Oilers’ defenseman Ladislav Smid, as per the Edmonton Sun.
“We’re not consistent enough. We can’t sustain the same game for 60 minutes. It seems to be every game is the same story so obviously we have to change something.
“There are several things that are wrong right now. We talk about the right things every day, but we have to go out and do it on the ice. Nobody is going to do it for us. We have to wake up in here.”
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.
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?
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.