The Los Angeles Kings have been in these shoes before. Just two years ago they were up 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final against the New Jersey Devils and looked to complete the sweep. The Devils managed to win two games before L.A. bounced them out in six.
The New York Rangers would like to do what the Devils did and then some this time around, but things seem different this time around.
Game 4: New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings [Los Angeles leads series 3-0] (8:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)
Everything that could go wrong has for the Rangers in the Final.
When Henrik Lundqvist has played strong, the Kings have gotten the fortuitous bounces. When the offense has done well, the defense let them down. When they’ve established two-goal leads, they’ve only evaporated. So what’s left in Alain Vigneault’s bag of tricks? There’s at least one option.
Forward Daniel Carcillo is eligible to return for Game 4 and his presence may be needed to spark a little bit of life in his teammates. During yesterday’s press availability, the Rangers had the same feeling about them that a man headed for execution might. Doom, gloom, and a bleary future awaiting. With Carcillo’s six-game suspension up, perhaps a little new blood is what they need.
All of that may not mean much if Jonathan Quick plays the way he did in Game 3. His outstanding play on Monday night was the type of series-swinging thing New York didn’t need in a virtual must-win situation. Now they’ll look to Lundqvist to try and do the same the rest of the way.
Lundqvist has done it once before in these playoffs, just ask the Pittsburgh Penguins, but the Kings are a different kind of beast. Of the 11 goals scored by L.A. in this series, all of them have been scored by a different player. Stopping that kind of attack makes the Rangers’ task at hand all the more difficult.
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.