Los Angeles Hockey: Brad Richards

Ducks 2, New York Rangers 1 (SO)

October, 8, 2011
Ducks 2, New York Rangers 1 (SO)

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: Bobby Ryan scored the only goal of the shootout, putting an off-speed shot high into the corner of the net against goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist, lifting the Ducks to their first victory of the season Saturday night at Ericcson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden.

THE STAT: Ducks goalkeeper Jonas Hiller faced only 15 shots against the Rangers, stopping 14. He also saved two attempts in the shootout.

TURNING POINT: The Ducks took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period with some strong forechecking by their third line. Andrew Gordon dumped the puck into the New York zone and fellow rookie Devante Smith-Pelly jarred it loose along the boards. Gordon collected the loose puck and passed in front of the net, where Andrew Cogliano was in position to poke it past the goal line.

HOT: Luca Sbisa also had a solid all-around game for the defense, delivering four hits, blocking two shots and accounting for a takeaway. Fellow defenseman Cam Fowler played a team-high 28 minutes 38 seconds and blocked six shots.

NOT: Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf continue to be in training camp mode. The high-scoring forwards are still looking for their first points of the season. They went scoreless against the Rangers, yet combined for two trips to the penalty box. Good thing the youngsters have been stepping up for the Ducks

GOOD MOVE: Ducks coach Randy Carlyle has been showing a lot of confidence in his young players. Smith-Pelly, Gordon and Guenin each played double digits in shifts against the Rangers and all three have a point through the first two games, unlike the top line of Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan.

BAD MOVE: Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky had the puck on his stick in his defensive zone but couldn’t clear it. Instead, it went to Ryan McDonagh at the blue line who found Brad Richards down low. Richards skated in and beat Hiller with a nifty shot high in the net with 2:15 remaining in regulation.

NOTABLE: The Ducks have allowed just 15 shots on goal in the last four periods.

UP NEXT: Friday vs. the San Jose Sharks at Honda Center, 7 p.m.

Kings make surprising trade for Mike Richards

June, 23, 2011
The Kings got Richards alright.

It just wasn’t the Richards everyone expected.

Out of the blue Thursday afternoon came news the Kings made a deal with the Flyers to obtain center Mike Richards, the team captain and 66-point scorer last season.

No doubt, many scribes needed a double take to make sure the press release had the right guy. The Kings were expected to be one of the main suitors for Brad Richards of Dallas, the only blue-chip unrestricted free agent goal scorer expected to be on the market at the start of the signing period July 1.

“We felt at this stage of the franchise it was time to make a significant move for an impact player," general manager Dean Lombardi said in a statement. "Mike Richards is not only one of the top players in the league, he's also universally recognized as one of the finer leaders in the game and one of its elite competitors. Additionally, given that he's only 26 years old and he's on a long-term contract, he fits our plan now and for the long-term future."

Brad Richards had five more goals and 11 more points in nine less games than Mike Richards last season, but he’s also five years older and will likely demand a fatter contract. Mike Richards has nine years remaining on his deal, which brings a $5.75 million salary-cap dent. He also led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup final in 2010.

Of course, the Kings had to give up quite a bit to bring in Richards.

Heading to Philadelphia is center Brayden Schenn, the fifth overall pick two years ago who appears to be on the fast track to NHL stardom. The Kings were hesitant to deal Schenn at last winter's trade deadline but obviously Mike Richards was too good to pass up.

The deal also included third-year wing Wayne Simmonds, who had 14 goals and 16 assists in 80 games for the Kings last season but was marked by inconsistency.

With the addition of Richards and the trade for left wing Dustin Penner last February, there's no doubt the Kings are serious about making a run for the Stanley Cup title in the next year or two.

Kings: Looking ahead to the offseason

April, 28, 2011
Oh, the similarities.

The Kings were not only eliminated in the same game of the same round of the same Stanley Cup playoffs as last season. They were finished off on the same day of the year.

So, while April 25 isn’t generating any fond passages in their diaries, neither are a few other dates. Six days earlier on the same ice at Staples Center, they let the San Jose Sharks spit the hook in Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinal, blowing a four-goal, second-period lead and losing control of the best-of-seven series.

Anze KopitarGeoff Burke/US PresswireAnze Kopitar's recovery from an ankle injury will be key to the Kings' success next season.

The team was a bit older and wiser this season but also was missing its best player down the stretch, leading scorer Anze Kopitar, whose season-ending ankle injury two weeks before the end of the regular season felt like a flat tire 500 yards from the finish line.

Did Kopitar’s loss cancel out any gains from the previous 12 months? Who knows?

But the blown lead in Game 3, the three overtime losses and the 0-3 record at home in the series made for a slow walk out of Staples Center after Game 6.

At least the early exit provides the Kings a head start on repairing some of their issues.

Heading into the postseason, most of the problems were thought to be offense-related, but then the defense around goalie Jonathan Quick turned into soft serve and more red flags were raised.

Here’s a look at the main areas of concern heading into the offseason.

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Ducks: Perry's 47th goal gives Anaheim some hope

April, 3, 2011
After the 2nd period:

Dallas Stars 4, Ducks 3

The good: The best players usually step up at the most important times. Corey Perry came up with a huge short-handed goal with 1:17 left in the period to draw the Ducks back within a point in this ultra-important game. A regulation victory and the Ducks, Kings and Phoenix Coyotes clinch playoffs berths in the Western Conference. The Stars were on their fourth power play of the period and sixth of the game when Perry stole the puck from Jamie Langenbrunner at the red line, raced down left side and flicked a nice little backhand just over the right shoulder of goalie Kari Lehtonen for his league-leading 47th goal of the season. It was also the fourth short-handed goal of the season for Perry, setting a club record. Ducks goalkeeper Ray Emery has stopped just 21 of 25 shots but he has been faced with a barrage of power plays and spent considerable time tracking the puck in his own end.

The bad: With the score still tied, 2-2, the Ducks had a 5-on-3 power play for 1:20 but couldn’t cash in. Dallas took a 3-2 lead about seven minutes into the period after cycling the puck down low until Brenden Morrow got open in the slot. He took a pass from Langenbrunner and sent a blast past the glove side of Emery. The Ducks then committed four consecutive penalties. The Ducks killed the first two but the Stars went on a 19-second 5-on-3 after Toni Lydman was called for high-sticking. The Ducks wiped out the two-man advantage but Dallas scored five seconds later when Mike Ribeiro used his chest to stop a centering pass from Brad Richards, ala David Beckham. The puck fell at his feet and he poked it into the net for a 4-2 lead.

The in between: The Chicago Blackhawks lost to Tampa Bay, 2-0, earlier Sunday, so the Ducks will still be in seventh place in the Western Conference at the end of the night, regardless of how this game turns out. Unfortunately, if they can’t come back, they’ll be that much closer to ninth.

Ducks: Two good reasons to beat the Stars

April, 3, 2011
Ducks (44-29-5, 93 points) vs. Dallas Stars (38-28-11, 87) at Honda Center, 5 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. It’s about time: Since the Ducks were founded before the 1993-94 season, they've never qualified for the playoffs in the same year as the Kings, but both can clinch postseason berths tonight with a regulation victory by seventh-place Anaheim. The eighth-place Blackhawks (92 points) and ninth-place Flames (89 points) also play this afternoon, so a loss by the Ducks and victories by their closest pursuers will make for an interesting final week of the regular season.

2. Where’s Lubo? Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky left Saturday night’s game in San Jose with an upper-body injury. It appeared his was favoring his right shoulder after getting checked into the boards by big-bodied Douglas Murray with about eight minutes left in the 4-2 loss. The Ducks can ill afford to lose Visnovsky, who scored his 17th goal of the season earlier in the San Jose game to set a franchise record for goals by a defenseman.

3. Close calls: The Ducks and Stars will be meeting for the third time in less than a month and little has separated the teams in the previous two games. Visnovsky ended the first by scoring an overtime goal with just four seconds left after Teemu Selanne had tied it with just over a minute left in regulation. Cam Fowler won the second game in overtime after Selanne tied it with seven seconds left in regulation.

4. Emery honored: Ducks goalkeeper Ray Emery is coming off his first loss in an Anaheim uniform but against the Sharks he was mostly hung out to dry by his defensive unit. Emery won his first six games as a starter for the Ducks, earning a nomination for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is annually presented to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The winner will be selected at the end of the regular season.

5. Falling Stars: It was just four weeks ago that the Stars were defeating the Kings, 4-3, in overtime at Staples Center to conclude a four-game trip with a 3-0-1 record and move into fifth in the Western Conference standings. The Stars have since gone 2-5-4 to fall into 10th in the West. They are 0-3-1 heading into the final game of their season-long five-game road trip. The good news is Brad Richards finally scored a goal Saturday afternoon, ending a seven-game goal-less streak.

Kings: Mitchell gives L.A. a 1-0 lead

March, 7, 2011
After the first period:

Kings 1, Dallas Stars 0

The good: Great shift by the Anze Kopitar, Dustin Penner and Justin Williams line led to the first goal just after the Kings killed a Dallas penalty. The trio helped keep the puck in the Dallas zone for nearly a minute before defenseman Willie Mitchell got off a slap shot that eluded Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen. Mitchell is playing with a mean-looking black eye after getting hit with the puck last week against Phoenix. Williams got an assist on the play for his 400th career point. With leading scorer Brad Richards still sidelined with a concussion, the Stars managed just four shots on goal in the period and didn’t get off their first until 9:15 had expired. On the second shot on goal, Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier made a spectacular glove save on Mike Ribeiro's shot while sprawled across the crease on his right side.

The bad: The Kings missed out on another power-play opportunity after Ryan Smyth took a high stick from by Brendan Morrow 3:15 into the game. They went 0-for-6 on the power play in their last game, a 3-1 loss Saturday against the visiting Vancouver Canucks.

The in between: The Kings will have the man-advantage for the first 2:45 of the second period after Dallas bad boy Steve Ott was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for spearing Kings enforcer-in-training Kyle Clifford. Ott and Greene had faced off when Clifford came up from behind Ott and wrapped both gloves around his face. As Ott was being pulled away by an official, he jabbed Clifford in the chest with the blade of his stick. You figured there would be some bad blood between the teams after what happened the last time Dallas played at Staples Center. Clifford appears to be a marked man the rest of the way after he laid a big hit on Jamie Benn in the neutral zone with 12 seconds left in the period.

Kings: Stars power up for 2-1 victory

January, 17, 2011
Dallas Stars 2, Kings 1

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: The Stars scored both their goals on second-period power plays Monday night and goalkeeper Kari Lehtonen turned away a penalty shot by the Kings in the game’s final minute to preserve a 2-1 victory at American Airlines Center.

THE STAT: The Kings had won 11 of the last 14 games against Dallas, including the last four at American Airlines Center.

TURNING POINT: With the Kings leading, 1-0, defenseman Matt Greene was called for roughing on Tom Wandell with 8 minutes 36 seconds remaining in the second period. The Stars cashed in on the power play 14 seconds later, when Loui Eriksson redirected a pass from Brad Richards into the net. That seemed to take the air out of the Kings, who allowed the winning goal five minutes later on Dallas’s fifth power play of the game.

HOT: The temper of Kings coach Terry Murray after the penalty that led to the second goal by the Stars. Brad Richardson was called for delay of game for knocking the puck over the glass, but it was pretty clear from Murray's reaction that he didn't believe it was deliberate.

NOT: Michal Handzus, bumped down to the fourth line due to ineffective play, did not have a shot on goal in nearly 15 minutes of ice team. In the two games since his demotion, Handzus had more penalty minutes (two) than shots on goal (one).

GOOD MOVE: Justin Williams scored his 17th goal of the season in the first period to give the Kings a 1-0 lead. Williams didn’t do anything fancy, just something the Kings need to try more often...shooting the puck at the net. Williams took the shot from a bad angle and it deflected off a Dallas player and into the net. The Kings finished with 23 shots on goal, the third straight game they’ve had 25 or less.

BAD MOVE: Murray chose defenseman Jack Johnson to take the penalty shot after one of the Stars was whistled for grabbing the puck with his gloved hand while it sat on the goal line with 52.4 seconds remaining. The shot had to be taken by a player who was on the ice when the penalty occurred. The Kings had pulled their goalie and had a 6-on-5 at the time, so there must have been a better option than a defenseman who’s best known for his slap shot.

NOTABLE: The Kings came into the game 8-1-0 against the division leaders this season. Dallas has been atop the Pacific Division since late November.

UP NEXT: at St. Louis, Tuesday, 5 p.m. PT

Trade talk sure to increase after Kings lose again, 2-0

November, 29, 2010

ANAHEIM -- From the easternmost fringes of Canada to the West Coast of the U.S., plenty of hockey talk has swirled around potential trades involving the Kings and a high-scoring forward.

Jarome Iginla, Brad Richards, Tomas Fleischmann. Every day it seems a different player is headed to Los Angeles to provide that final piece of the puzzle.

After their latest setback Monday night, a 2-0 loss against their Pacific Division rivals, the Anaheim Ducks, those rumors are sure to build volume.

The Kings lost for the seventh time in the last eight games, but this marked their first via shutout. They have four goals in the last four games and haven’t scored an even-strength goal in the last 11 periods.

Kings captain Dustin Brown, looking frustrated as he sat in front of his locker at the Honda Center, said his team doesn’t need to reach outside the organization for scoring help.

“No one is questioning our scoring when we’re winning seven straight,” he said. “Now we’ve lost seven of eight, or six of eight, or whatever it is, people start questioning things. The season is ups and downs and it’s just a matter of staying at an even keel.”

Brown has gone the extra mile to end the scoring skid, moving from right wing to the left side on the front line. However, nothing seems to be working at any level.

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