Time will tell if the Minnesota Wild and Detroit Red Wings can gut their way to the postseason by the close of 2013-14, but they played a playoff-caliber game on Sunday and both improved their chances in the end.
Widened lead for Wild
The Wild redeemed themselves with a 4-3 OT win after losing in regulation 3-2 on Saturday. They didn’t let two Gustav Nyquist first-period goals fluster them enough to let this one slip away.
Matt Moulson was credited with the overtime game-winner, giving him 21 goals (four of them game-winners) this season. The 30-year-old has 46 points in 65 games played … pretty nice work for someone who’s been traded twice in 2013-14.
The Wild had lost four of their last five and only won two of nine games (though they collected points in four of those contests thanks to OT or shootouts) coming into this one, but now they have a beefier lead over the rest of the pack for the West’s top wild card spot. Their 85 standings points in 72 games played give them a comfortable cushion in front of Phoenix, Dallas and the rest vying for positioning.
Far from settled East
Even with this overtime defeat, the Red Wings should probably feel pretty solid about this weekend, taking three of a possible four points against a challenging opponent in the Wild. It continues to be the Jimmy Howard and Nyquist show, it seems:
Detroit can also feel nice about the fact that they jumped from the second to first wild card spot out East because they reached 80 points in two fewer games than the wilting Toronto Maple Leafs.
Take a look at the updated East standings with Saturday’s Red Wings – Maple Leafs in Toronto looming pretty large:
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.