After days of silence as to who’d be his starting goalie, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan did the expected on Thursday and announced Antti Niemi would be in net for Game 1 of San Jose’s opening around series against the Kings.
“He’s our go-to guy. Simple as that,” McLellan said, per the Mercury News. “He has been our go-to guy for four years, he’s our go-to guy in Game 1.
“I can tell you this, there wasn’t near the amount of debate with the four of us in the coaches’ room as there was with a whole bunch of you outside the coaches’ room. But it was fun.”
There had been some question as to which goalie — Niemi or Alex Stalock — would get the nod against L.A. Part of it had to do with McLellan playing coy with the media, but part of it also had to do with the fact Niemi’s been erratic this season while Stalock emerged as a quality No. 2.
There was also the fact that both goalies fared well against L.A. this year. Niemi played more, going 2-1-1 with a 2.67 GAA and .910 save percentage, but Stalock was really impressive in his lone outing, stopping 20 of 21 shots while being named second star in a 1-0 loss.
Of course, there is the experience factor. Niemi’s started every playoff game for San Jose over the last three seasons and has 56 games of playoff experience on his resume.
Stalock, meanwhile, has never played in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
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.