Montreal Canadiens v New York Rangers - Game Six

Pacioretty says Tokarski made a name for himself


When it was clear that Carey Price would miss the rest of the 2014 Eastern Conference finals, it seemed like the Montreal Canadiens were doomed. They did indeed fall in six games to the New York Rangers, yet it’s difficult to place the blame on little-known goalie Dustin Tokarski.

Actually, if you ask Max Pacioretty, Tokarski played well enough that he shouldn’t be so anonymous any longer.

The 24-year-old stopped 31 out of 32 shots, yet that one goal allowed was enough for the Rangers to advance.

Was Tokarski better than Henrik Lundqvist, as Rene Bourque claimed? Maybe not, but Tokarski played well enough that the conversation wasn’t by any means outrageous.

“I thought the kid did a fabulous job. He gave us a chance to win every night that he was there,” Michel Therrien said. “Yes, we lost our best player early in the season in Carey Price, or in that series, I mean, but we had confidence in the young man. Dustin was, as far as we’re concerned, he was really, really good.”

While there were some ups and downs for Tokarski (he struggled almost as much as Lundqvist in Game 5), the aggressive goalie made quite a few highlight reel stops.

There was this stop on Martin St. Louis in Game 3:

He beguiled St. Louis again in Game 4 before the Rangers forward beat him in overtime of that same contest:

Even on a tough night for goaltending in Game 5, he made a big stop against Carl Hagelin:

The Canadiens actually re-signed Tokarski to a two-year contract extension in April, so he could very well end up becoming the backup goalie for Price that Montreal trusts (instead of, say, Peter Budaj).

If nothing else, he mostly silenced doubters who believed that the Rangers would easily dismiss the Canadiens from the playoffs.

Friday’s loss serves as ‘harsh lesson’ for Blue Jackets

Jasper Fast, Nick Foligno, Henrik Lundqvist
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Late in the third period of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, things were looking good for Columbus.

Brandon Saad, who the team acquired from Chicago this off-season, scored his first goal of the season to give his team a 2-1 lead with under four minutes remaining in the contest.

Unfortunately for the Jackets, that’s as good as it would get.

The Rangers responded with three unanswered goals from Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello to spoil Columbus’ home opener.

“When something like that happens at the end, I think we’re gonna be a better team because of it,” defenseman Ryan Murray told reporters after the game. “It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a good one.

Luckily for Columbus, they won’t have to wait very long to try and get their revenge.

The Blue Jackets and Rangers will finish off their home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which might not be such a bad thing for Columbus.

“It’s good that we get another chance tomorrow,” Saad said after Friday’s game. “We were high on emotions (after the go-ahead goal) and they scored and it took the wind out of our sails, but we have to keep playing. We have to learn to keep doing our thing, regardless of the score.”



Kings GM says Mike Richards went into ‘a destructive spiral’

Mike Richards

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.

… Yeah.

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?