Hot and not
Kyle Turris, Ottawa Senators
Turris finished minus-2 and lost 11 of 20 faceoffs in the Senators' 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers, and is in the midst of a 10-game goal drought dating back to Dec. 14.
@Real_ESPNLeBrun: Vincent Lecavalier made his debut Thursday with the Los Angeles Kings, while former King Mike Richards will have to wait for his Washington Capitals debut until he practices with the team for a while. My question is: Which player will have a bigger impact on his team when the season is over? I stayed up to watch the Kings host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday and thought Lecavalier did just fine as the fourth-line center. His play that set up the game's opening goal by Jake Muzzin in the third period was solid, Lecavalier sticking his butt out along the board to create ice for himself and getting the puck out to Muzzin in the lane. Kings coach Darryl Sutter told reporters after the game that he thought Lecavalier gave him "quality" minutes. The smile on Lecavalier's face after Muzzin scored said it all. "It feels great. It was just a good team effort tonight," Lecavalier said after the game. "The support for this team and the way they play is impressive, so it was nice to be a part of it today. Everybody worked really hard and it paid off." Can Lecavalier find his niche with the Kings? I think he's motivated enough and has enough left to play a part, albeit a small one, in L.A.'s bottom six. My sense is that Richards' real value will be in the playoffs, when the two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings provides a moment or two for the Capitals. Thoughts?
@ESPN_Burnside: Well, there is some interesting symmetry at play here, no? Richards was part of those two Cups in Los Angeles but was also part of the team's on- and off-ice unraveling last season. Lecavalier has been searching for a place to wind down his stellar career after a rather disastrous turn in Philadelphia, and it's interesting that he's found a home in Los Angeles, playing where Richards did before being sent to the minors last winter, on the fourth line. I was in Brooklyn on Thursday where the Capitals rolled over the New York Islanders, and it's obvious that Richards' value won't be so much in helping between now and mid-April but in finding a role that allows his experience and his competitiveness to shine through at key moments in the playoffs. It happened in Los Angeles in 2012 and, to a lesser degree, 2014. I wonder about the ability of Lecavalier or Richards to keep the pace, though, once the playoffs start. Neither has played much in recent months, and the game is so fast now that even experience and will and determination -- which both possess in spades -- might not be enough. But let's consider this, just for fun: How interesting would a Los Angeles-Washington Stanley Cup finals be? My guess is that Richards would be OK hoisting a third Stanley Cup at the Staples Center while wearing a Caps jersey.
@ESPNJoeyMac: I'm calling it right now: Richards will make a major contribution for the Capitals in the postseason. He's done it in the past, and Washington is the perfect landing spot for him at this point of his career. I can see him setting up or scoring a winning goal in a crucial moment. It's in his postseason DNA, and if he's given the opportunity to perform on the big stage, he will. Lecavalier, maybe he'll find solace in Los Angeles and go out on a high note. But, you're right, Scotty, I would love to see a Kings-Capitals Stanley Cup finals for that reason. If that scenario does play out, I've got my money on Richards and the Capitals.
@CraigCustance: Put me down for Richards having the bigger impact. For one, he's still just 30 years old, compared to Lecavalier's 35, although for whatever reason it seems like he's been around much longer. Like everyone else, I have concerns about Richards' skating ability, but I think the motivation of nearly losing his livelihood would be enough to straighten things out and make sure he's at his best physically. Even in his last full season with the Kings, one that didn't go particularly well, Richards had his moments in the postseason. He had 10 points in 26 games during the Kings' Cup run in 2014. GM Dean Lombardi saw enough in him not to buy out his contract. It's funny, because Richards is exactly the kind of player Lombardi would bring in if it weren't the Kings he was leaving. He loves reclamation projects, kind of the way Glen Sather always did in New York. I like taking a risk on a guy who might have some mileage left and also a little something to prove.
Around the league
Red Wings coach Dave Blashill offered praise for Petr Mrazek after Thursday's win, saying the goaltender has "a special mentality."