The chants of ‘Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!’ grew louder and louder from the fans inside SAP Center in San Jose on Sunday. The Sharks are halfway to that objective.
The Sharks now lead the L.A. Kings 2-0 in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final series, thanks to a 7-2 victory in Game 2. San Jose trailed by a pair of goals early on, but emphatically came back and completely took this one over with seven unanswered.
And it was the fourth liners, Mike Brown and Raffi Torres, that initially led the charge. Not only were they both physical forces, punishing opposing players with thunderous body checks, but they displayed a scoring touch, too. Brown got the Sharks on the board with his first career Stanley Cup playoff goal less than five minutes into the second period, and Torres tied it at 2-2 less than five minutes afterward on a perfect wrist shot that beat Jonathan Quick on the stick side.
Justin Braun scored the winner. At the time, it was a close hockey game, the Braun goal breaking the deadlock.
The Sharks’ killer instinct took over from there, and they didn’t let up in the third period. It was an onslaught. The Sharks kept coming and the Kings were powerless to stop it.
Quick, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner only two years ago when the Kings won the Stanley Cup but pulled in the series opener, has now given up 12 goals in the last two games. He still made 33 saves in a losing cause Sunday.
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.