Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

This year my curb is dressing up as a Kings Fan.


A Great Big Pumpkin


Even when the Kings lose... they still win.

Kings 0, Slang Term for Canadians, 4

Scary. Just scary. As good as Jason LaBarbera was to start the game, having a goaltender of Roberto Luongo's quality makes all the difference for a sub-par NHL hockey team. The Vancouver Canucks are not that much better than the Los Angeles Kings. But when push comes to shove... Luongo's got their ass covered. Plus, you can't win a NHL hockey game going 0 for 6 on the Power Play.

I knew from the first drop of the puck that the Kings were doomed. Check out who the geniuses at Fox Sports West have listed as the first line of defense:


If anything, I'd put Frolov and Handzus on D before these guys.

Maybe Fox Sports West spends a little less time perfecting the "Rinkside View" and little more time on their graphics package. Just a full out ugly game. Nothing more to say than that. This was not the same team I saw on Monday night against the Detroit Red Wings. Matt Moulson made his return to the line-up and drew 2 penalties. Unfortunately, both times he just tripped over his own feet with a Canucks player close by.


A goalie. Consistency. A Power Play goal. A goalie.....
Things that are Most Wanted!

Things I Learned from Watching the Vancouver Canucks:
One day, due to a trade or the Salary Cap, Alexander Frolov will not be playing for the Kings. If that is the case, I hope he ends up on a line with the Sedin Brothers. Those 3 could be a Tour de France team they cycle so much. HEY-OH!

Besides the Sedin Brothers... the Canucks don't have much else at forward.

The Vancouver Canucks away jersey is gorgeous. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for this.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Kings Gameday - The Economy Hits Pat and Oscar's



Well, I saw this day coming. Coach Murray has decided to get the band back together and reunite the top line from last season, Patrick O'Sullivan, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown.

I can't say I blame him. Those 3 are a force together. But for a few games, the Kings had something that they haven't had in a long time... secondary scoring. I loved watching Patrick O'Sullivan and Oscar Moller skate together. They are very similar in style yet complimented each other well. Hopefully they will still get some time on the Power Play together, but now I have to think... how will this affect Moller's game? A big reason for his early season success was being able to skate with O'Sullivan. Now, the so called 3rd line with Frolov and Handzus will need to provide more offensive support in addition to their great defensive play.

Pat & Oscar. It's been a great ride. I guess I'll just have to drown my sorrows in breadsticks.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Curbed Enthusiasm

This afternoon, I returned home to find a note taped to my front door. It was an order form for a re-painting of my curbside house numbers.


With my permission, this company will come by tomorrow and re-paint my curb numbers for a small fee. Normally, I wouldn't be all that interested in this service... with things like Google Street View, I believe we have passed by the necessity of curb numbers. But then I looked closer:



A Kings Scene??? What the hell could that be? Would it even be the current logo or would it be the Gretzky era one? And if it was the Gretzky era one... how cool would that be? I have to say, I am seriously considering doing this. I own a Kings hat and a sweatshirt... that is the extent of my fandom. I don't wear a jersey to games. I figure buying Half Season Tickets for the past 6 years, during a playoff drought, is the purest expression of my allegiance to the Los Angeles Kings.

But a logo painted next to my house number on the curb? That could be the ultimate....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Red Wave

As expressed in a prior post, Detroit Red Wing fans descend on Staples Center in amazing numbers, creating an atmosphere more like a Detroit home game, than a Kings home game. Unless you are at the arena, you would have no sense of just how much red there is. To their credit, Detroit fans are not fair-weathered, they are in fact the real deal. Here is some visual proof.


Fans with brand new 2008 Stanley Cup patches.
Even with the correct placement of the "C" and "A".



Paul Coffey played 20 NHL seasons, 4 1/2 of them with Detroit.


Now this is true love.


Or maybe this is. This dude is rockin' it Red Wings and Russian style.
Shout out to the Russian 5!



Old School. Like Coffey, Sawchuk was also a former King. 11 wins in 1967-68!

And finally. What thousands of Red Wing fans sound like when their team wins a skills competition.

video


Next Red Wings-Kings game at Staples... Thursday, Jan 15th, 2009.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Boyz II Men

I hate it when Detroit comes to town. I don't hate Detroit because of the 1 great playoff series the Kings had with them in the last 10 years. No... I hate Detroit because every time they come to town, their fans come to the Staples Center in droves, outnumbering the Kings fans 3:1. Growing up a native Los Angeles Sports Fan, Half Season or not, is difficult... due to the fact that Los Angeles is a commuter city, and every single hockey fan that has moved out here from Detroit, Chicago, New York and Boston loves to come and root against the Kings. But the Red Wings fans... they are the worst. And they can be... because their team is so good.

Kings 3, Lord Masters of the NHL, 4 (Shootout)


The West Coast Family

This was a tough one. To be honest, I hadn't really noticed Denis Gauthier one way or the other since the start of the season. That usually is a good thing. It means a stay at home defenseman is doing his job. But tonight, Gauthier picked the wrong way to get himself noticed by Kings fans.

This was the game that you saw Coach Murray's team putting it all together. In years past, the Red Wings have come into this building and walked all over the Kings. But tonight, the Young Gun Kings not only kept up with the fast pace of the Wings... at times, they surpassed them.

Oscar Moller had a great power play goal. 18 Year Old Drew Doughty made 2 amazing defensive plays, both that involved him diving to poke away the puck (although I think he was just showing off on the 2nd one). Doughty was also out there to start the Overtime, 3 on 3. That's confidence from a coach.

The Kings moved the puck around on the power play and looked strong on the penalty kill against the most impressive offense I've ever seen. Every time Detroit had the puck, it seemed like they had the ability to score. The 2 big mistakes the team made... taking 2 penalties to get that 5 on 3 in the 2nd period... and of course.... Gauthier's pass up the middle with less than 2 minutes left in the game.


I didn't Tivo the game, so here is a Flyers-era representation
of how Gauthier looked after that pass
.


Here is a Flyers-era representation of what Kings Fans
hope happens to Gauthier after that pass.


You are not going to beat Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Hossa in a shootout. You're just not. I don't care how solid of a game Jason LaBarbera had. When the PA announced that shootout lineup, my Half Season Ticket Holder buddy and I just laughed. It's like an All-Star skills competition.

But the Kings got a point tonight. They did something that 7 other teams in the NHL have failed to do against the Red Wings. And I think that is pretty cool.

Things I Learned From Watching the Detroit Red Wings:
Pavel Datsyuk can be insignificant the whole game and still be a threat to score.

Marian Hossa flies out on the ice.

Brian Rafalski has a great last name to make fun of.

On the Way to the Game...

It's always a tough night as a Half Season Ticket Holder when playing the Red Wings at home. You'd like to think that this is the year that the Kings will be able to play tough against the Wings... then you realize that the Wings added Marian Freakin' Hossa.

Re-cap to come after the game.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stupid Saturday

Tonight was the NHL's SUPER SATURDAY, as all 30 teams were in action for just the 3rd time in NHL History. Across the country, hockey fans were excited to experience a chance to watch every single NHL team on television... well every single team except two. The Los Angeles Kings vs the Nashville Predators. The ONLY game not televised... on a night EVERYONE is playing.

Kings 4, Predators 5, Fans with Televisions, 0

So without a television to watch... Take yourself back to a "pre-video on demand" internet. Gather the whole family up in the living room, pour yourself a glass of scotch... as I present a game wrap-up, Slide Show style.

1st Period

Some Nashville player I've never heard of scores
and stops the Kings penalty kill streak at 27.



Nashville scores again.


Nashville scores again. On the Power Play. 3-0.

2nd Period


This happens again. For the 2nd time in 3 games.


Jarret Stoll scores.


Jarret Stoll scores again.


Jarret Stoll scores every night.

3rd Period


Ex-King Jerred Smithson haunts his former team. Nashville is up 4-2.


Tootoooooooooooo!!! 5-2.


Captain Brownie Squares makes it 5-3.

Frolov scores with a minute left to make the game seem closer than it was.
5-4 Final.


Patrick O'Sullivan feels shame. And a photographer loves rack focus.

And I discovered this gem while looking for photos for the re-cap tonight.


NEW YORK - OCTOBER 25: A fan yells at referee Brian Pochmara #43 during the game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers on October 25, 2008 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Things I Learned from Watching the Nashville Predators:

Well, you see, that's the thing... the game wasn't on tv.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Palin Effect

Heed these words, staunch Republican NHL Team Owners (Phil Anschutz, I'm looking your way!) You may not want to invite VP Candidate and renowned Hockey Mom Sarah Palin to drop the puck at your next home game. The Philadelphia Flyers were the first to have Mrs. Mom smile with the captains and now they only have 1 win in the young season and have lost superstar small guy Daniel Briere for a month. Then, last night versus the Kings, St. Louis Blues goalie Manny Legace trips on the on carpet that had been laid out for Palin to walk on, and tweaks his knee. Coincidence? Or vast Left-Wing conspiracy?

Kings 4, Form of Music based on the Blue Notes, 0



Captain Dustin Brown continued his morphing into the next Keith Tkachuk by matching up along side Keith Tkachuk all night, getting a face full of forearm from Keith Tkachuk and then stealing the puck from Keith Tkachuk and scoring a "Keith Tkachuk-esque" goal.

The Kings really dominated this game from start to finish, even after the appearance of the 6'7" beast of a rookie goalie named Ben Bishop. Remember when this was an imposing NHL goalie?


5' 10" NHL Hall of Famer Billy Smith


St. Louis Rookie Goaltender Ben Bishop


The Kings are now 27 for 27 on the Penalty Kill and stopped the NHL's best Power Play. When the Blues are on the power play with 5 forwards and draw a penalty, do they send out a 6th forward as the extra attacker? Or maybe their backup goaltender?

The two best parts of the the night for me was Bob Miller taking a swipe at the LA Times for no longer posting box scores and NHL game roundups and the FSW camera catching 18 year old Drew Doughty bobbing his head and rocking out to Sweet Home Alabama during a TV timeout. Who knew that kids still loved southern rock?


If I'm not allowed to drive and talk on my cell phone in California,
then there is NO way Heidi Androl should be allowed to do this.


Things I Learned from Watching the St. Louis Blues:
The Blues will stay competitive for most of the season and then drop like a lead weight with 10 games left in the season. (I also learned this from watching the Andy Murray coach the Kings)

Roman Polak could be the best current name in the NHL.

Paul Kariya, Oscar Moller and Patrick O'Sullivan would be an amazing NHL line. Or at least the lil'est line ever.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

McHatin'

Quick... which one of these guys scored for the first time tonight?

Oscar Moller

Drew Doughty

McLovin

Kings 3, Abrupt and Rapid Flow of Snow 4

How drunk was McLovin???

Now... imagine if we only had a real goalie? Yes, I realize that the Kings had 2 major defensive breakdowns in front of Jason Labarbera that led to 2 goals, but LaBarbera also let in 1 goal on 4 shots in a first period that the Kings completely dominated. And tonight, they played one of the few teams in the league that are in a worse goaltending situation than the Kings... and they blew it. If fans are truly to believe that this team has turned the corner into a consistent winner, these are the kind of games they need to win... consistently.

But you can't be too angry when you get two nice goals from two of the teams' youngest players. Oscar Moller's first NHL goal showed why Coach Murray gives him plenty of time on the power play. And 18 year old Drew Doughty's first NHL goal showed why he was drafted 2nd overall last year. It wasn't so much the goal itself, it was the confidence he showed waiting at the blueline for his teammates to get onsides first before he went in for the score. A great goal, especially after getting schooled earlier in the game by Ryan Smyth.

And you are officially a team leader when you pick up the puck from the net after a rookie scores their first goal. Anze Kopitar... you are a team leader. A 21 year old picking up an 18 year olds first NHL goal.

The highlight of the night: Oscar Moller describing himself as a "small, shifty player that is offensive" to Patrick O'Neal in between periods.

Things I Learned from Watching the Colorado Avalanche:
Their goaltending is almost as bad as ours.

Joe Sakic is ageless.

Ryan Smyth has a blade with no curve. Thanks Jim Fox!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Heidi Chronicles

Maybe since Patrick O'Neal (wow, didn't see that bio coming at all, did you?! Rebecca De Mornay?) is SO terrible as the 3rd broadcaster during the Los Angeles Kings telecasts, I thought the recent "call-up" of Heidi Androl to the television broadcasting team from the internet broadcasting team wasn't such a bad idea... even though my Half Season Ticket Holder buddy doesn't see what the fuss is about when it comes to her.

But during Friday's Fox Sports West broadcast of the Kings-Canes game, some producer took "subtlety" to a whole new level.

Here's Heidi on the City Terrace. Maybe she was just there for the garlic fries.


Here's Heidi chillaxing with The Briggs. That dude on the lower left is SO high.


Oh look now! Heidi's in one of the suites with Supergirlfriend Rachel Hunter.


Quick! Let's play "Who Knows Less about Hockey?" Aw shucks, it's a tie.


So, not only has Heidi been in 4 live standups, she's now appearing in a taped piece.
She's just hanging with her girls..... her Ice Girls!


Wanna come back to the Hills and play with my "Snow Dogs" money?


3:2 odds that Heidi is dating a player by season's end. Oh, I think it's happened before!

If I'm Patrick O'Neal.... I'm freshening up that resume, ASAP. Don't forget who else started off as as NHL sideline reporter.

The Zeus is Loose

Kings 4, Tropical Cyclones 3


Well, I guess that pesky knee problem that was bothering Michal Handzus all of last year seems to have gone away. He looked in prime form all night long, scoring the first and last goal of the game. In the industry we call that "Bookending." Coach Murray making the move to turn Alex Frolov into Keith Primeau by putting him on a line with Handzus just might work out. For Handzus.

My Half Season Ticket Holder buddy was once a pretty dedicated Flyers fan, so I watched a lot of Handzus on Center Ice a few years back. And when the Kings signed him last year, we were both excited to have him on the team. But then the season happened, and Handzus disappeared completely... even though he played all 82 games. In this day and age of trades and free agency, I think we always assume it will be very easy for players to step into new teams, learn new systems and succeed. You just have to look at what Manny Ramirez did once he joined the Dodgers. But for Handzus and Tom Preissing it seems maybe they truly did need some time to adjust and learn playing for a new team in a new conference. Or maybe it's just because everything about the Kings sucked last year.

Even before Jim Fox starting talking about it non-stop, you could tell the Staples Center ice was way off tonight. Pucks were bouncing left and right, players were losing edges and falling. Maybe it's because the chemistry between Cuba Gooding Jr and Heidi Androl was so hot... It made for a sloppy game indeed.

I realize that Patrick O'Sullivan will soon rejoin the top line (and he did for most of the 3rd period) but I love watching him and Oscar Moller skate together. They both skate so fast and have such great hands. Moller seems to get better with each game, there is no way they are sending him back to Juniors after 10 games.

If anything, I want Matt Moulson to join Handzus and Frolov's line. In hockey, there is nothing greater than a line that shares a numerical jersey order.

Things I Learned from Watching the Carolina Hurricanes:

Sam Sewn Off. Sergei Sam Sewn Off NOT Sam Son Off. And why not, the guy has only been in the league 11 years... it's a perfect time to let broadcasters know that they've been saying your name wrong. You gotta admit, Bob Miller stumbled his way around Jarret Stoll and Eric Stall, but he hit Sam Sewn Off perfectly each time.

Cam Ward is a really great goaltender. But does he have a heartbeat? Sure he lost, but that guy doesn't even seem to break a sweat out there. He hardly moves to make saves.

A Sutter Brothers Son is on the Hurricanes?!?!! Jesus, there really is nothing else to do in Canada but play hockey.

Sounds like heaven.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Murray Knows


If there is one thing new Los Angeles Kings coach Terry Murray isn't afraid to admit... it's that he doesn't know something. Thanks to the incredibly invaluable Inside The Kings, I've begun to notice an emerging pattern in Coach Murray's interview style:

Question: Based on feedback you might have gotten, what do you think is the biggest change in him [Jason LaBarbera] from last year?

MURRAY: ``I don't know Barbs from before. What I've been told is that he's lost a lot of weight. He's physically in top shape. He's put in a great summer with a huge commitment to nutrition and working out. That's why he looks so fresh every day, I believe.


------------------

Question: How much do you know about O'Sullivan's game?

MURRAY: ``I'll be very honest. I don't know him as a player.


------------------

Question: O'Sullivan is supposed to be a big part of your team. The fact that he's not here, does that impact the way you prepare at all?

MURRAY: You know, quite honestly I don't know what I'm missing, because I don't know him yet.


------------------

Terry Murray was asked about the schedule and the fact that the Kings have so many home games at the beginning and so many road games at the end. He said, in part, ``I don't know anything about scheduling; I just coach.

------------------

Question: Is this a good situation for you, since this is your first look at the young players?

MURRAY: ``I know a couple of the guys who were a part of the Flyers organization in the past. Even a player like Matt Greene, coming from Edmonton, I really don't know him very well..."

------------------

Question: Do you have a number, in your mind, of how many games you like your No. 1 goalie to play?

MURRAY: ``That's a tough one. I want him to play a lot. I don't know what that really means, but if you have a No. 1 goaltender, he's the guy that you've got to go with.


------------------

Question: Are you familiar at all with Kyle Quincey?

MURRAY: ``No, I don't know him at all. Obviously our scouts have been out there watching him and they liked him and he was available.


If anything, I find Coach Murray's ability to admit he doesn't know something much more refreshing than the current state of coaching, where every Coach seems to think HE knows it all. Barry Melrose, I'm looking your way. You too, Denis Savard.

And Murray's complete ignorance of Patrick O'Sullivan and Jason LaBarbera might help us die-hard Kings fans realize that our 6 year run of being playoff free means our players don't attract the most attention from fans across the US and Canada. Even if those players are being over valued non-stop on LetsGoKings.

Watching Coach Murray give plenty of power play time to Oscar Moller, have 18 year old Drew Doughty lead the defense and keep Matt Moulson on the first line, he's already proved to me that he knows WAY more than Marc Crawford ever did.

But in fairness to Coach Murray, the Kings PR staff don't seem to know that much about him either. Again from Inside the Kings:

During pregame introductions, Staples Center public-address announcer David Courtney just introduced coach Terry Murphy. Yes, Murphy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Killing Instinct

Last season: The Los Angeles Kings Penalty Kill..... 30th out of 30 teams at 78%.

This Season: A perfect 14 for 14 after 3 games.

The Difference: This guy is back behind the bench






Mark Hardy. Welcome Back.



Freeway Fizzle

Kings 6, Ducks 3



A night of firsts... Wayne Simmonds' first NHL goal... the Kings' first win of the young season... and the first chicken breast sandwich I've ever had at Staples. Delicious.

It was an entirely different team out there tonight. And I'm not sure if it was a case of the Kings playing well... or the Ducks just being awful. And oh man, were they awful. I don't think I've ever seen the Ducks play this bad in the last few years.



I don't hate the Ducks because they are the cross-town rival. And I think the "Freeway Face-Off" is the worst crime of forced rivalry branding since the Lexus Gauntlet. (Besides, everyone knows that the Cortaca Jug is the most important rivalry battle.) No, I hate the Ducks because they were able to win a Stanley Cup within 14 years of being an expansion team.

Tonight, the Kings looked like the more promising Southern California hockey team. Wayne Simmonds' first NHL goal and his celebration afterwards put smiles on the faces of everyone in the arena. Which actually, wasn't many... the place was unusually empty for a Kings-Ducks game. 18 year old Drew Doughty looked strong for most of the night, even though it turns out he was battling the flu. Patrick O'Sullivan loves to skate backwards and stickhandle. And I think he may be the best in the league at it. And Matt Moulson not only picked the corner on JS Giguere... he had to turn the puck on its side first.


The victory was capped off by the release of hundreds of streamers into the air from the Staples rafters after the final buzzer sounded. My fellow Half Season Ticket Holder and I looked at each other... they can't do that after each victory, can they?

I think my Half Season Ticket Holder buddy hit the nail on the head when he turned to me and said "Well, they can't lose EVERY game." He is 100 % right, they can't. It doesn't matter how bad the other team played tonight. When a victory sends the Ducks to the bottom of the Pacific Division, even in a season that is barely a week old..., it's well-earned.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Well, That Didn't Take Long

Last night, me and my Half Season Ticket Holder buddy went to the Kings home opener at Staples. There have been a lot of changes to the Kings in the off-season, but none compare to the changes to the food selections. The Nachos Camachos have changed the most, as you now have the ability to "create-your-own" although they use the tiniest scooper I've ever seen to put the guacamole on top. I asked for a 2nd scoop and the worker had to check with her boss first to make sure it was alright. It was.


an artists rendition of the tiny scoop of guac

We've had seats in and around section 217 for the past 6 years, mostly in the last row. It's great... no one sits behind you and you can stand up during the game if you'd like. The Kings shoot twice towards us and you really get a great sense of the entire game moving north to south. Sure, you have to look up at the scoreboard when the action is down in the other end but I've sat innseats all around the Staples Center and I like these the best. Plus we could watch the Dodger game by looking into the Suites above us.



Kings fans have a love/hate relationship with Rob Blake. They watched him grow as a rookie under the guidance of Larry Robinson, mature into a Captain after Gretzky was traded and then be trashed left and right as the Kings organization didn't want to pay him for what he was at the time... the NHL's best defenseman. So they shipped him off to Colorado so he could win the Stanley Cup with another team. And King fans booed him without mercy. When the Kings re-signed him 3 years ago, I was intrigued with the move, a chance for Rob to now be the mentor for the Kings young defense. But it didn't work out that way. Blake was injured most of the time and when he was available to play, seemed more concerned about getting his morning surf time in than playing a vital role on the team. Late last season, the Kings asked him to waive his no-trade clause so he could be shipped to San Jose for a 1st round pick. He said no. He wanted to finish what he had started with the Kings rebuilding. Then, on July 1st, when the Kings hadn't made an offer to re-sign him right away, Blake took the first 5 million tossed his way and headed up the coast... to San Jose. The same team he refused to be traded to. So the Kings paid him 12 million dollars to rehab over 2 years so he can now enjoy playing the game again.

You think Sarah Palin got booed at the Flyers game on Saturday? You ain't seen nothing till you've seen Blake in a Sharks jersey:

video


The Kings lost 1-0. They looked inspired at times and way over-matched at others. It seems like it's going to be this way all year long. Drew Doughty had a nice move late in the game on the power play, pulling a nifty spin with the puck to avoid a winger at the point. But man, he looks like an 18 year old out there.

The best for last. Jack Johnson is out for at least 3 months with an upper body injury. This was supposed to be the year that Johnson really stepped up and learned the NHL game. He was supposed to be a leader on an already young and inexperienced defense... as a 21 year old. So what does Dean Lombardi do? He picks up Kyle Quincey off waivers from Detroit. He's a promising young player, only 23, and got to hang out as the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup last year. The last waiver pick-up the Kings had from Detroit? Matt Ellis. Oh boy.