L.A. Kings Jonathan Quick was not at all happy with the Anaheim Ducks second goal, which gave the hosts a 2-1 lead in the third period of Wednesday’s battle between the two California rivals.
Jakob Silfverberg scored the goal. Ducks forward Nate Thompson was going hard to the net in a battle with Jake Muzzin, and with Thompson’s left leg in the crease, Quick appeared to get blocked out from moving to his left for just a split second, which allowed Silfverberg plenty of room to find the net.
Quick was furious. He shot the puck down the ice and pushed the net even closer toward the end boards.
With an astounding .967 save percentage in his last six starts, Rangers goalie Cam Talbot will be back between the pipes tonight when the Blueshirts, still without starter Henrik Lundqvist, host the Chicago Blackhawks (on NBCSN).
Talbot’s latest triumph came Sunday when he stopped 38 of 39 Florida shots in a 2-1 victory.
Call his play surprising if you want, but the Rangers aren’t shocked.
“It didn’t surprise anybody in here,” d-man Marc Staal said after the Panthers game. “We’re excited for him to get an opportunity to show what he’s got on a consistent basis. He’s been very good for us as a backup. It’s his time to shine.”
No word yet who will start for the ‘Hawks. Corey Crawford made 38 saves last night in beating the Islanders at the United Center, so it could mean Scott Darling’s first appearance since Feb. 27.
Ben Scrivens for the Oilers at home to the Blue Jackets, who are likely to go with Curtis McElhinney.
John Gibson for the Ducks at home to the Kings, who are likely to go with Jonathan Quick.
Related: Andersen or Gibson — who starts for Anaheim in the playoffs?
A regulation loss tonight in Anaheim and the Los Angeles Kings will once again fall outside the playoff picture in the Western Conference.
Currently, the defending Stanley Cup champions are level in points with Calgary but hold the tie-breaker with a game in hand. The Flames, however, have more regulation/overtime wins.
That’s how tight things are as the Kings kick off a stretch of games that could very well decide whether they avoid becoming the first defending champ since Carolina (2006-07) to miss the playoffs.
Of the Kings’ next seven opponents, only the New Jersey Devils are on track to miss the postseason. The Rangers, Wild, and Blackhawks are three of the hottest teams in the league.
While it’s true the Kings have an easier stretch to finish their schedule…
… they’ll still, in all likelihood, need to win six or seven of their final 13 to qualify. And as we saw yesterday in Boston, and see on a lot of nights, there are no automatic wins in the NHL.
Such is the extreme parity in the league that the Kings are simultaneously in real danger of missing the playoffs and, also, an absolute threat to win the Stanley Cup.
“Every year is difficult. It’s not easy,” goalie Jonathan Quick said, per the Associated Press. “It’s a tough league and there’s a lot of parity in both conferences. So I don’t think this year is any more difficult than previous years. And it certainly isn’t any easier.”
By shutting out the Arizona Coyotes 1-0 on Monday, the Los Angeles Kings end the night back in the West’s final wild card spot.
They had to grind this one out as Jonathan Quick made all 25 saves while Andy Andreoff scored the only goal on an increasingly spry Mike Smith (beaten just once on 35 shots). Los Angeles carried much of the play, but much like Washington out East, it wasn’t an easy night despite facing a “tanking” opponent.
Here is a quick look at the West wild card race after this one:
Minnesota (first wild card spot): 83 points, 35 regulation/overtime wins in 69 games played
Los Angeles (second wild card spot): 81 points, 32 ROW in 69 GP
Winnipeg: 80 points, 28 ROW in 69 GP
San Jose: 76 points, 31 ROW in 69 GP
Colorado: 75 points, 23 ROW in 69 GP
Dallas: 74 points, 29 ROW in 70 GP
It’s important to mention that the Kings could conceivably catch thee Calgary Flames (who have 81 points but two more ROW) and Vancouver Canucks (82 points, one game in hand on Los Angeles, plus three more ROW than the Kings) in the Pacific Division, too.
At this point, almost every win and loss could be framed as crucial. Regardless, the Kings would likely have some serious regrets if they dropped this one, but they managed to grit this one out. The West’s top teams probably aren’t happy, either.
Of course, a lot can still change in a month.
All the latest from the crease…
Lindback takes on Caps
Anders Lindback will look to continue his personal reclamation project when the Sabres host the Caps in Buffalo.
Acquired from Dallas in the Jhonas Enroth trade, Lindback — who was dreadful as Kari Lehtonen’s backup — has been quite effective since Buffalo dealt Michal Neuvirth to the Isles. The lanky Swede has yet to win a game for the Sabres, yet allowed just 12 goals on 160 shots over a five-game stretch, good for a .925 save percentage and 2.68 GAA.
In his last outing, a 2-0 loss to the Rangers, Lindback stopped 31 of 32 shots for a .969 save percentage. He also did this to Toronto in overtime last week:
For the Capitals, no word yet on who’ll start. Braden Holtby was in for yesterday’s 2-0 win over Boston and could go back-to-back; if not, it’ll be Philipp Grubauer, who’s up from AHL Hershey with Justin Peters injured.
Habs at Bolts: Carey Price vs. Ben Bishop
Leafs at Oilers: Jonathan Bernier vs. Ben Scrivens
Coyotes at Kings: (No Arizona starter yet) vs. Jonathan Quick (probable)