Tag: Mike Richards

Darryl Sutter

Many reasons — including plain, old luck — to explain Kings missing playoffs


Ask Darryl Sutter why his Los Angeles Kings are going to miss the playoffs less than one year after winning the Stanley Cup and he first points to the “disparity” in the home (24-9-7) and away (15-18-8) records.

On top of that, he concedes that all the hockey, regular season and playoffs combined, the Kings have played the last three years “probably” took a toll.

You may also recall earlier in the season when Sutter noted how it’s a “quite a bit different team on the back end” (without Slava Voynov and Willie Mitchell) and how “we need great goaltending,” something the Kings didn’t really get compared to previous seasons.

We’d add their shootout record (2-8) and their overtime record (1-7).

Oh, and a lack of finish. Sutter has talked about that, too.

And their special teams were pretty mediocre.

And losing Tanner Pearson hurt.

And they probably should’ve bought out Mike Richards.

Bottom line: a lot of things didn’t go the Kings’ way. Given all the good fortune they enjoyed during their two championship runs — from getting the Coyotes and Devils as their final two opponents in 2012, to all the overtime victories that could’ve ended differently in 2014 — perhaps they were simply due a dose of the opposite.

It’s always a contentious topic when it comes to hockey: luck. But like it or not, it can be the difference between a good team winning it all and a good team missing the playoffs.

That’s not to say that everything boils down to luck. It obviously doesn’t. The Kings got the job done in 2012 and 2014; they didn’t in 2015. And yes, Dean Lombardi has some work to do this offseason. His team has flaws.

That being said, let’s end this with a fun fact:

If the Kings beat the Sharks on Saturday, they’ll finish with the same record (40-27-15) as they did in 2011-12.

One team finished with a parade.

The other will finish with a meaningless game against San Jose.

NHL on NBCSN: Kings’ crucial road trip continues tonight in New York

Los Angeles Kings v New Jersey Devils

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight as the New York Rangers host the L.A. Kings at Madison Square Garden, starting at 7:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The New York Rangers will look to add to their lead in the Presidents’ Trophy race Monday night when they play host to the L.A. Kings in the second and final meeting between last season’s Stanley Cup final participants.

New York (46-18-7) won the only other meeting between the two clubs 4-3 on Jan. 8.

The Rangers enter the game winners of seven of their last eight games while Kings (35-23-14) snapped a two-game skid with a 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils Monday night.

Tonight is the second of a five-game road trip, which could make or break the Kings’ playoff aspirations.

The Kings currently sit outside the playoff picture trailing the Calgary Flames by two points for the third seed in the Pacific Division. L.A. is four points back of the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.

L.A. is looking to avoid being the first team since the 2006-07 Carolina Hurricanes to miss the playoffs the year after winning the Stanley Cup.

Mike Richards returned to the Kings’ lineup for the first time since Jan. 21 on Monday. The 30-year-old was a minus-1 in 11:41 of ice time in the win. Monday also marked the return of Alec Martinez to L.A.’s lineup. Martinez had been sidelined since Feb. 7 due to a concussion.

The Rangers are coming off a 7-2 thumping of the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night at the garden.

New York is 16-4-5 against the Western Conference and 11-1-1 against the Pacific Division.

The Rangers are 17-3-3 in 23 games since starting goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was sidelined due to a vascular injury. Cam Talbot is 15-3-3 with a 2.12 goals-against average in Lundqvist’s absence.

Jonathan Quick made 19 saves against the Devils last night. He is 6-3-2 with a 1.86 GAA and two shutouts while making 11 straight starts. Quick owns a 1.97 GAA while winning six of nine meetings with New York, including spring’s Stanley Cup final.

Kings’ Lombardi on Richards: ‘There’s very much a possibility he’ll be back’

CALGARY, AB - MARCH 10: Mike Richards #10 of the Los Angeles Kings in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 10, 2014 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Following his demotion to the American Hockey League in late January, Mike Richards has put together three goals and 14 points in 16 games with the Manchester Monarchs.

The production has Kings’ GM Dean Lombardi talking about a possible recall for the 30-year-old.

“We’re running him through some tests right now,” Lombardi told Sportsnet on Thursday. “I mean, the one thing about Michael everybody knows, when there’s big games or critical moments, he’s always there. And we just gotta get him up to that capacity to be able to do that.

“But there’s very much a possibility he’ll be back.”

Prior to being demoted, Richards was having one of the worst seasons of his career. He had just five goals and 15 points to go along with a minus-7 rating in 47 games while averaging a career-low 13:42 in ice time.

Richards carries a $5.75 million cap hit in the NHL and has another five seasons remaining on his deal.

If his AHL production can translate back to the NHL level it’d be beneficial for all parties involved.

“The only thing I can say about this group, it’s been a group that’s essentially been together now for five years and they never let themselves down, they never quit,” Lombardi said. “They almost like having their backs against the wall. The one way you’re able to sleep at night is you know they’re a group that cares.

“That’s our strongest asset in terms of this team is 20 guys who care about each other and either way you know they’re going to be out there fighting.”

Richards is certainly a part of that group and could be an asset if he can rediscover his game at the NHL level.

Related: Quick silences Canucks to push Kings into Wild Card spot

Video: Mike Richards scores first goal for AHL Monarchs


Playing in his second game with the Manchester Monarchs in the American Hockey League after clearing waivers and getting sent to the minors, Mike Richards broke out offensively.

Richards, 29 years old and a veteran of 704 NHL regular season games, had a goal and two assists in the Monarchs’ 4-1 victory over the Albany Devils on Wednesday.

“I’m getting used to playing with the same linemates, and getting to know them a little bit better,” said Richards, as per the Monarchs website. “I thought we made some plays tonight, but still have some things to work on.”

Dean Lombardi is criticizing the NHL again

2014 NHL Draft - Round 2-7

L.A. Kings GM Dean Lombardi, who has already taken the NHL to task this season, lobbed another complaint at the league on Tuesday — this time, regarding the Canadian dollar’s affect on next year’s salary cap.

“It’s a matter of how all these pieces fit into the puzzle,” Lombardi told the L.A. Times, in speaking about his club’s cap situation. “Then we also have this whole thing with the Canadian dollar. I’ve been talking to other GMs about that. It’s a crazy way to run a cap.

“Do I need a stat guy or do I need a currency trader to figure this out?”

Lombardi is referencing statements made by Gary Bettman at All-Star weekend in Columbus, during which the commissioner said next year’s salary cap would be affected by the (slumping) Canadian dollar, but clarifying it wouldn’t cause the cap “to fall off a cliff.”

Bettman said that if the Canadian dollar continues to trade around $0.80 USD (as it is currently), next season’s salary cap ceiling would be $71.6 million. If the Canadian dollar is at $0.82 USD, the cap ceiling would be $72.2 million.

(Back in early December, the league pegged next year’s cap number at $73 million.)

The Kings have been pressed up against the cap ceiling for a while and, recently, waived high-priced center Mike Richards before sending him to AHL Manchester, which relieved them of $925,000 of Richards’ $5.75M cap hit.

Lombardi had another cap-related complaint earlier this season. In early November, he called the system “dysfunctional” after the Kings were forced to carry Slava Voynov’s $4.1 million hit despite the Russian rearguard being suspended indefinitely following a domestic assault arrest.

Two weeks after the “dysfunctional” remark, Lombardi was at it again.

“As this case makes clear, we must now do one and/or two things. We must build in a cushion in case one of our players is a bank robber, kleptomaniac, etc,” he said, per the O.C. Register. “The seemingly better alternative is, we have to do a better job of educating our players and, in particular, monitoring our players away from the rink.

“While monitoring them away from the rink may have the Orwellian connotation of ‘Big Brother’ oversight, that is the nature of the sports business in the cap era.”

Financially speaking, L.A. will be a team to watch this offseason. The club has several big decisions to make on key players, including the reigning Conn Smythe winner in Justin Williams (a UFA on July 1) and two highly-coveted RFAs in Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli.