Facing a huge game for playoff implications tonight against the Coyotes, the Rangers could be without three key contributors in the lineup.
Martin St. Louis (flu), Derek Stepan (ditto) and John Moore all missed the morning skate, per Newsday. St. Louis and Stepan are being evaluated and will be gametime decisions, while Moore — who hasn’t played since Friday’s win over Columbus — is almost certainly out (with concussion symptoms).
The losses would be huge for New York, obviously. While St. Louis has struggled since coming over from Tampa Bay, he’s still an elite-level scorer while Stepan has been red-hot since the Sochi Olympics, with 13 points in 15 games.
If either can’t go, recently-signed NCAA standout Ryan Haggerty — RPI’s leading scorer this season — could possibly make his NHL debut.
The Rangers are in desperation mode and calling tonight’s game a virtual must-win. While they sit third in the Metropolitan Division heading into Monday’s play, they’re only three points up on Washington with 10 games to play and will play five of their final eight games away from MSG.
Given that all games are big from here on out, expect to see Henrik Lundqvist exclusively in goal down the stretch. Head coach Alain Vigneault suggested as much following Saturday’s 2-0 win over New Jersey, in which Lundqvist stopped all 21 shots faced for the shutout.
“Hank’s our guy,” Vigneault said, per the New York Daily News. “If we’re going to get in — everybody’s winning right now — it’s (going to be) because Hank plays like Hank.”
Update: Vigneault said the team would call up JT Miller from AHL Hartford on an emergency basis.
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.