The Los Angeles Kings trail 0-3 in a playoff series for the first time in 14 years, which probably explains why captain Dustin Brown — who debuted for L.A. in 2003 — is calling this his toughest time as a King.
“This is probably the most dire situation we’ve been in,” Brown said, per Mayors’ Manor. “It’s not only a test, but a learning experience.”
L.A. heads into Staples tonight on the verge of elimination to San Jose, a similar circumstance to the opening round of the 2000 playoffs, in which the Kings were down three games to none to the Red Wings — before eventually getting swept in Game 4.
To avoid a similar fate, the Kings are hoping the captain can provide a spark.
Brown will be moved to the club’s top line alongside Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik, head coach Darryl Sutter confirmed, and the hope is that Brown can provide a more physical element when matched up against San Jose’s red-hot first unit of Joe Thornton, Brent Burns and Tomas Hertl, which has combined to score nine points in the first three games.
“We’ve had trouble with the size of Burns and Thornton, quite honestly,” Sutter said, per CSN Bay Area.
Tonight will also provide Brown the opportunity to make amends for what’s been a forgettable season.
The 29-year-old scored just 27 points this season — his lowest total since notching five in 31 games as a rookie — and saw his ice time plummet to 16:50 per night. Through the first three playoff games, Brown hasn’t been much better. He’s scoreless against the Sharks thus far and his most notable scoresheet contribution came during a 7-2 loss in Game 2, when he racked up 12 penalty minutes.
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.