JohnGibson

Kings must ‘make [Gibson’s] job a lot harder,’ says Richards

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John Gibson’s first-ever Stanley Cup playoff appearance went great, posting a 28-save shutout.

But if the Kings have anything to say about it, his second will be much more difficult.

“I know he’s calm and cool or whatever, but it’s our job to make his job a lot harder,” Mike Richards said, per the L.A. Times. “It’s a tough situation that he’s put in, with [Saturday] night maybe, possibly, their season on the line.

“It’s now a best-of-three series, so it’s a lot of pressure to put on a young kid.”

The Kings are familiar with the “get-after-the-goalie” narrative, especially given what Jonathan Quick’s faced this postseason. In the opening round against San Jose, the Sharks made getting in Quick’s kitchen a priority and Mike Brown was the main instigator in the early part of the series, twice sending Kings players into Quick in the opening two games.

From CSN Bay Area:

For the second straight game, Brown shoved a Kings player into Jonathan Quick, this time sending Tyler Toffoli flying into the crease in the first period.

“That’s the way I have to play. I didn’t think he was next to the goalie,” Brown said of the play. “I think Quick just fell back. Nothing intentional. I obviously want to get in and kind of rattle him, but it was nothing intentional. Just playing the hockey game.”

Here’s the second, the aforementioned Toffoli shove:

Getting in Quick’s head — or, at least attempting to — was San Jose’s M.O. throughout the series, though you could certainly question the strategy given 1) the Sharks underwent one of the biggest collapses in Stanley Cup playoff history, and 2) Quick got better the more they bumped him.

Still, the Ducks also made a point of getting physical with Quick after he stopped 69 of the 72 shots he faced in the first two games of the series, and had some success with it. Prior to Game 3, big-bodied forward Patrick Maroon explaining exactly what the Ducks planned to do.

“[Quick’s]seeing a lot of pucks. We need to get in his eyes, get in his head a bit,” Maroon said, per the L.A. Times. “We need to crash and bang, go to the net. We need all 20 of us. It’s what we’ve been doing all year. I think we have the character to do that.”

Since then, the Ducks have scored five times on 33 shots and chased Quick from Game 4.

Now the Kings are vowing to increase traffic in front of Gibson.

“We need to do more to get to him. We gave him too many easy shots and we didn’t crash the net and get people in front of him,” Drew Doughty said. “He played good, but we’ve got to do a better job.”

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.