Despite a win last night, the Los Angeles Kings and their fans' biggest concern was the status of Mike Richards who left after the second period of last night's game after suffering a head shot from Florida's Sean Bergenheim. Richards did seem to be okay after the initial hit, so much so that he chased Bergenheim around the ice. Unfortunately, the former Flyer could not continue.
Today, it was announced that Richards, much to everyone's dismay, will be placed on injured reserve tomorrow, which means that he will be sidelined for at least the next seven days. The news could be worse but this was definitely what Kings fans were hoping for. After all, Richards has really gotten into a groove lately as before last night, he scored eight goals in as many games.
Defenseman Willie Mitchell also left last night's game with a lower-body injury. Unlike Richards, he will not be placed on injured reserve but, according to head coach Terry Murray, might still miss a few games.
When Richards does get placed on IR tomorrow, Dustin Penner will be activated from it, which means that he will most likely play tomorrow when the Kings host Montreal. Normally, it would be good news for a player to return to the lineup but given that it's an underachieving Penner, no one's exactly getting goosebumps at the thought of the big man returning to the lineup.
As for the void left by Mitchell on the blueline, Alec Martinez has still not been cleared to return so, with that, Davis Drewiske will be playing in just his second game of the season.
Overall, both injuries are a setback for the Kings. Mitchell's loss is an important one but it pales in comparison to the loss of Richards who has really established himself in Los Angeles thus far, essentially picking up where he left off in Philadelphia.
Beginning tomorrow will be a great test for the Los Angeles Kings. Players like Williams and Brown need to continue to help out as they've been doing so well and guys like Brad Richardson (who will be back in the lineup tomorrow), Jarret Stoll and, of course, the aforementioned Penner, it's time to step up to the plate and have a game that turn their respective seasons in the right direction. This has to happen - no ifs, ands or buts about it.
The injury to Richards isn't quite the same magnitude of Anze Kopitar's ankle injury last spring but it's significant enough where the Kings need to work to the bone to remain competitive. Unfortunately with Richards' injury, it's tricky to determine how serious it is. After all, headshots can have a number of different outcomes. Of course, my fingers are crossed hoping that Mike Richards gets a full and speedy recovery.
So, there you have it: Richards is out and Penner's back in. It's certainly not a pretty situation but the Los Angeles Kings need to make the most of it and play well enough where they aren't rushing Richards back. It's imperative that they turn up their games a notch or two and the time to do that is now.
Photo: Courtesy of Tom Mihalek/AP Sports