Sunday, November 30, 2008

Called It!

From Inside the Kings:

"Brian Boyle has been sent down to Manchester. There isn't expected to be a corresponding move."

Yes, Brian Boyle, you really just did lose your place on an NHL roster to Derek Armstrong. Hope you have a Patrick O'Sullivan-type renaissance in Manchester.


It's always lonely when you are 6'7".

Of course, Let's Go Kings is all over this story. I had high hopes for Boyle, based on his size, his college career and the scoring he did during his brief call-up last season. He'll show a flash of brilliant puck handling skills once or twice a game, but overall this season he has seemed completely lost out there. I hope some time in the minors will do him some good.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Young Guns 1 vs Young Guns 2

Brian Boyle... you just lost your place in the lineup to Derek Armstrong. Kyle Calder finally found a scoring chance that even he couldn't miss. And Coach Murray showed why he is the perfect coach for this team by going with Erik Ersberg in net tonight, instead of Jason LaBarbera. Put all these things together... and you have a damn solid win by the Los Angeles Kings. Don't look now, but the Kings are 7-3-1 in the last 11 games.

Kings 5, Assault Helicopters, 2


Jim Fox shows the viewers that 3 intersecting lines make a triangle.
Or that he is drunk on Telestrator power.

As the 3rd period was coming to a close, Kings broadcaster Bob Miller remarked that the Kings had gotten goals tonight from "players who hadn't scored a lot this year." Yeah, I would say that Calder and Armstrong hadn't scored all that much this year. Maybe Raitis Ivanans is the only one who hasn't scored as much. Armstrong is making the most of his position between Patrick O'Sullivan and Oscar Moller while Calder... well he still has Hands of Stone™, but even a stone hits the side of a barn every now and then.

How great of a pickup has Kyle Quincey been? After this game, Kyle is now beating down the door of the top 20 defensemen in the league this year. Remember... Dean Lombardi got this guy for nothing.



This was an awesome game to watch. Two young teams going at it, matching shift for shift until the Kings stepped it up in the 3rd period. The game was so fun to watch I almost didn't notice the new graphic monstrosities from our friends at Fox Sports. Check out the upper left corner here for a good 45 seconds, complete with sound effects:

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The Kings were so distracted they gave up a goal.

Oh, that's not enough for you? Then check this one out:

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3 Day Suit Broker!!! EXTREME!!!

Has Fox Sports been this heavy with the advertisements on the tv scoreboard this year and I've just been missing it? Or is Fox Sports looking for extra revenue to pay for the costs that come with Rinkside View?

Yikes, Michael Vartan... don't you know about the Curse of Christian Slater?


I guess you have to have a project going on in order for it to be cancelled.

And finally... I really think there is something going on between Heidi Androl and Alexander Frolov. The last 2 times she has interviewed him it's been all giggles.


Oh Alexander, you are TOO funny! Are you heading to the Lexus Club later?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Blues - 20 Games In

A friend of mine a year ago wanted to write a song called "Turkey Blues" about getting down during the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving is always so joyful he reasoned, why can't we have a song about being down on our luck and so full of Turkey.

At this time last year (20 games in) the Kings were 8-11-1 and in the midst of a 4 game losing streak. Over the next 20 games, the Kings would squeak out 6 wins, 13 losses (including an 8 game losing streak) and 1 overtime loss. Their season would be over and the #1 draft pick watch began.

This year at the 20 game mark, the Kings are 8-9-3. If you look at the numbers, it's hard to see how far the team has come. But if you are a fan, you realized just how different this years team is than the last few years.

This team plays defense. And it plays it well... mostly. Sure there are lapses sometimes and power play goals given up... but that happens to every team in the league. This team... and every Kings team to come after it will only go as far as our goaltender will take us. Erik Ersberg is a fun stop-gap. But he's not the answer. That answer is in the minors right now, either in Manchester or Ontario. We may not see that future goaltender this season. The Kings are playing competitively enough to challenge for a low level playoff spot. That might keep the Kings from bringing up a young goalie and handing the keys to him. Although the Montreal Canadians did that last season... and it seemed to work out pretty well for them.

20 GAMES IN REVIEW:

Best Player: Dustin Brown
Night in and night out, Brownie Squares is the best player on the ice for the Kings. He has taken the Captainship and run with it, the moves he pulled during the Washington Captials game proved that. He has suffered offensively because Anze Kopitar has struggled, but with Patrick O'Sullivan back on the 1st line, help is on the way.

Best Player Under 19: 18 Year Old Drew Doughty
Best Defenseman: 18 Year Old Drew Doughty
I think we all knew he was going to be good... but no one had any idea he would be this good. He is challenging for Rookie of the Year and each night you can see him learning more about the NHL game. Give credit to Sean O'Donnell... he is much more the teacher than Rob Blake or even Mathieu Schneider would have ever been.

Worst Player: Kyle Calder
This one is a no brainer. Calder has hands of stone and couldn't make any opportunity of Coach Murray's gift of putting him on the first line. Raitis Ivanans didn't once score 26 goals in a season. He's paid to be an enforcer. After 1 full season and 20 games, I'm not sure what Kyle Calder is being paid to do.

Worst Defenseman: Denis Gauthier/Tom Preissing
If you could combine these 2 defensemen into 1, you'd have a decent player. Gauthier plays a good physical game, but doesn't seem to be the brightest bulb in the shed. Preissing has great offensive instincts, he's just soft as a pillow. Don't forget... Jack Johnson will be back soon. One of these guys will go away.

Biggest Surprise: 18 Year Old Drew Doughty
Any one who said they thought he was going to be this good is a liar.

Biggest Disappointment: Jason LaBarbera
I really thought this would be the year for LaBarbera. He tore up the AHL since he was forced to stay down there all season. He lost weight, he seemed focused to start the season. But after watching Erik Ersberg play the last 10 games... you realize that LaBarbera just isn't starting goalie material. I imagine he will be traded (as will Calder and Derek Armstrong) in the coming months. Some team is going to need a back-up goaltender.

The Thing that Makes Me the Happiest:

The complete implosion of the Dallas Stars hockey club.

Here's hoping the Kings rebound tonight against the Edmonton Oilers. I gave up on NHL Center Ice this season, but gained NHL Network. So I get to watch the game tonight. And the Half Season Ticket Holder Buddy and his lady are coming over as well to watch different Canadian announcers talk about and mispronounce the names of the Kings. Oh... and we'll see our old friend Lubo.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Zeiler! Zeiler! Zeiler!

The swift hand of NHL justice has come down and handed a 3 game suspension to Los Angeles Kings forward (?) John Zeiler. The legitimate blog world has been all over this story.

John Zeiler is not a particularly good ice hockey player. If the NHL didn't have 30 teams, he wouldn't be on an NHL roster. He's the kind of player that brings fans together... to goof on him. And after wearing #73 the last few seasons... this year, Zeiler is rocking #13.


John Zeiler doing his best Michael Cammalleri impression.
Shoot from the knee!

I've never understood what Andy Murray, John Torchetti (whoops... Zeiler didn't play for them, that was Jeff Guilano.. same difference) Marc Crawford and now Coach Murray liked about Zeiler's play. Sure, he's an "energy" player, but most of the time he misses the player with a check and hits the boards instead... at top speed of course. And he usually jumps in the air to make those checks. So if he does hit the player... it's a charging call.

It figures that the one time Zeiler actually connects with a body... he gets suspended.





Will the Kings miss John Zeiler? No. The game in which he hit Adam Foote from behind was only his 2nd game back. I guess the only question is who Coach Murray puts in for him. Does Peter Harrold come back in as defense/forward or does Derek Armstrong get a showcase for a possible trade?

Tonight is game #20 for the Kings, against the Flames in Calgary. 19 points in 19 games. Not too shabby. The game isn't on television... well, it is but I don't have the Center Ice package. Looks like this will be a night spent listening on the ole' streaming computer box.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Jersey Girl

This was a game that the Los Angeles Kings should have won. 18 year old Drew Doughty is a total stud. Blah, blah blah let's talk about that awesome new jersey!

Kings 3, Av's 4


Midway through the 2nd period,
Raitis Ivanans realizes that the Kings are wearing a new jersey.


Wow, what a great looking jersey. Even my Half Season Ticket Holder Buddy couldn't stop talking about it all night. But even better than the jersey itself, was the amazing show the Kings promo staff put on tonight.

First off, the main store, Team LA, was closed and this is what was outside:


You may be back in black. But I'm in red. So back away please.

A line had even formed outside the store to be the first to buy the jersey.


"Oh, no. This is for the 3rd jersey. The iPhone line is down there."

They were not letting anybody into the store until 7:34pm, the time that the Kings would skate onto the ice. Even the Kiosks stationed around the Staples Center were covered up.


Up in our seats, at 7:34pm the lights were dimmed and AC/DC's "Back in Black" came on the loudspeaker.

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And then the Kings came out in the new jersey as Bailey waved a flag with the new logo feverishly.

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The 3rd logo was everywhere. Including the scoreboard...



And on the Ice Girls...



And on Cartman...



Even the scoreboard graphics were treated with a black hue instead of the normal full color.



The 2 Kiosks around Staples opened... and were filled to the brim with 3rd logo merchandise.


Hmm, do you have anything with "Louisiana" on it?

The Team LA store was overloaded with new logo items. And yes, that jacket that was leaked online last week is real.


Perfect for rollerskating and chillin out in the 80's. Or in the 00's but with irony.

The store was filled with other merchandise that one might actually consider buying.


That's right. 18 year old Drew Doughty has his own player t-shirt.
You have arrived my friend. You have arrived.


And as far as the arena celebration... what is classier than an ice sculpture???


Answer: A chandelier is the only thing classier than an ice sculpture.

The jersey looks so great on the ice. Especially the white stripe at the bottom of the jersey. But the really great part is in the details. Check out Michal Handzus's helmet:




They are wearing the old "Kings" wordmark logo on their helmets from the Gretzky era. This is what the helmets look like normally:



A huge improvement. My one criticism is the number on the back. It's very big and even thought it has a silver trim, seeing it in person, the numbers looked very flat on the back of the jersey.



But that certainly didn't stop fans from buying the new 3rd jersey. It seemed like they were buying them by the dozen. Every few minutes fans would walk up to their seats in one of the new jerseys. Some already had custom numbering jobs. Like this one.


Wow, that woman's brand new jersey is already outdated.

LaBarbera? Really? Could there be a worse Kings player right now to put on the back of a brand new $300 jersey?


Found it!

That's right. She has seats right on the glass... and hands of stone on the back of her brand new $300 jersey. I really hope that is Kyle Calder's sister. Finally, as the fans exited Staples Center... we all got a little souvenir to take home.


This may be the only banner the Kings are raising for a while.

It was a fun night. It could have been better if the Kings had won, but with Phoenix and Dallas losing... I'll take the point. The jersey and all the celebration associated with it came together great. And I guarantee that the 3rd jersey will be the Kings main jersey within 2 years. Guarantee.

Friday, November 21, 2008

USA! USA!

It was Russian Heritage Night at Staples Center as the Los Angeles Kings showed the Washington Capitals how the good ole USA likes to do it. Take that Washington! You Russkies! If you don't like it, then go back to.... Washington DC!


In the immortal words of Artie Lange... waaaah!

The Kings were much more dominant than the score showed, shutting down Alex Ovechkin and forcing him to show the side of his play that critics despise the most... his whiny, baby streak. Ovechkin is a sheer force out there on the ice, every hit... every shot... every stride is stronger and better than anyone else on the ice. He truly is the best all around player in the NHL right now. But as 18 Year Old Drew Doughty and Captain Dustin Brown discovered... it's very easy to get under his skin.

Kings 5, Capitals 2



The still yet un-named first line looked great out there tonight. Especially Dustin Brown. I'm sure tomorrow on blogs across the country people will be debating whether or not that was truly interference between Ovechkin and Brown... but remember this... if Ovechkin hadn't been running around the ice like a madman for the minute before, there is no way the referee makes that call. Subtlety is definitely not one of Ovechkin's strong points. And the best part of it all... a close up of Dustin Brown's baby face on the Staples Jumbotron mouthing "Fuck You" to Ovechkin after Brown scored. That's my Captain!

This is the kind of game that gets one so excited about this team. But I also hate these "theme nights." Russian Heritage... College Night... Who Wants to Date Heidi Androl Night... when the Kings sales office goes all out in their efforts to attract people to the games, it tends to bring out the "undesirables." I'm talking about people who blow off the ushers and walk to their seats as the game is going on... people who stand up and leave during the middle of a Kings power play... these are the true undesirables that come out when tickets are cheap and they get a free hat for buying them. I am in no way a Half Season Ticket Package snob. I'm all for as many people as possible coming to check out the Kings. I just wish they had an ounce of respect for the people around them. In truth, I kinda like it empty at Staples Center. That way, friends can come down from the 300's to see how the other half live.

And I can safely say I saw one of the strangest things I've ever seen at a game tonight. There was a fan (and a semi-knowledgeable Kings one at that) sitting to our right, by himself. Now, I know how he feels. I have a job where I'm lucky enough to travel around this country, and if it's hockey season, I always try to go to game in whatever city I am in. I usually end up by myself and if I'm lucky... I'll meet a few interesting people and someone will buy me a beer. What this guy did tonight is sit there and SCREAM at the team left and right. We just found it so strange to go to a game by yourself and then sit there and scream all night. But hey, he paid for the ticket so he can do what ever he wants.

Maybe it's because the Capitals were in town tonight, but my fellow Half Season Ticket Holder and I have a new favorite nickname: Kyle "John Quincey Adams".

Does Coach Murray go with Erik Ersberg on Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche? Is Washington DC a communist country? You better believe it!

Things I Learned from Watching the Washington Capitals:
Finally, a team whose defensemen are less recognizable than the Kings defensemen.

Alex Ovechkin hits like he shoots... full force.

There are Capital fans in Los Angeles, and one guy was even rocking a sweet blue and copper-era Peter Bondra jersey.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kings Gameday - That's What a Hockey Team is All About

Being born and raised in Los Angeles, you tend to take several things for granted. It wasn't until I ventured east for college that I realized just how amazing In N Out Burger is. Now, thanks to Inside the Kings, there is a another place besides the beach that east coast NHL teams visit when they come out to play the Los Angeles Kings.

"Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau - the former Manchester Monarchs coach - talked about the Kings after the Caps practiced Tuesday. He conducted the interview after finishing some In-n-Out french fries. There's no In-n-Out on the East Coast, so several Caps officials were partaking."



It seems that the taste for In N Out extends past the Washington Capitals players and staff... check out this thread from the Washington Capitals fan message board.

And when the Bruins were in town last year, a special trip to In N Out was made:

Burger Time
Defenseman Aaron Ward had a surprise for the boys when they got off the ice -- In and Out Burgers! He had asked the LA King's equipment wrangler Dana Bryson (from Medford, Mass. and Northeastern University, by the way) to grab some of the sought after sliders and they were waiting in the locker room. Ward-o also allowed me and Rob Simpson to partake.

That is a tasty burger!

And the rest of the guys agreed.

"That's pretty good," said Andrew Alberts. "My first experience at In-N-Out Burger and I am pretty satisfied right now."

"It's good," said Tim Thomas, who is purported to be the hamburger king on the team. "(Strength and Conditioning Coach John) Whitesides won't like it though.

"It tastes great right now...and I am not going to compare it to anything else."

Aaron Ward, the purveyor of today's treat said that he "was the wrong one to ask. I know too much about them. And that's a bad sign.

"It's a tradition when you come to the West Coach and most teams that I've been on somehow you either make your way there during the road trip or someone brings them to the locker room.

"I did it last year when I was with New York and the year before in Carolina," he said. "It's a treat to have them."


If the Kings were smart... they would fill up opponents locker rooms with tons of In N Out on Gameday... Double-Double's, Animal Style Fries... or maybe even a 100x100!



That way, the Kings could guarantee that the visiting team comes out sluggish. Hopefully this is the game plan tonight against the Washington Capitals.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

(New) New Jersey

NHL 3rd Jerseys are nothing more than extra money in NHL teams' pockets. They serve no purpose beyond getting fans excited about our favorite team playing in "something different" and then going out and buying that jersey. That being said... it has totally worked. I'm really excited about the Los Angeles Kings new 3rd jersey which has just been leaked on the internets.



The Kings will wear the new jerseys in a game this Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche, a game me and my Half Season Ticket Package buddy will be at.



I grew up in the era of Gretzky silver and black. The Purple and Gold uniforms were great, but with Wayne Gretzky in town, it was time for the Kings to forge a new identity. The Silver and Black were perfect. Simple, clean and a strange Chevy-logo crest on the front.

I can't believe they only went to 1 Stanley Cup Finals with that lineup.

The Kings changed their jerseys in 1998 to distance themselves from that Gretzky era (and Bruce McNall). I never warmed up to the jersey that Kings currently wear... a purple that looks like blue on television and silver glitter on the numbers. Not to mention the "Los Angeles" banner across the bottom. Or sunglasses on a lion.

Because sunglasses on a lion just makes sense.

Luckily, the Kings switched from that "Country Club" logo to the current Crown logo in 2002. But this is a post about 3rd jerseys, not the Kings current crappy jerseys. The 3rd jersey is a great opportunity for a NHL club to really make a statement with its uniform. Since 1995, the first year that teams used a 3rd jersey, there have been some greats:

Peter the Great jersey.

And some not so great.

Going with the Ducks one would have been too easy.

This season, several teams have released brand new 3rd jersey designs. Some look better than the teams' actual jersey.


And then there is the Atlanta Thrashers. When I was in college, my roommates and I would say "that is so expansion" anytime we referred to a particular design, be it a sports jersey or the logo of a company. The expression implied that the particular item was ugly, confused and devoid of any tradition or implication of tradition. This is due to the fact that in the late 80's and early 90's, all the major sports leagues were expanding with reckless abandon and the uniforms reflected the aesthetic of the times. Ugly.


The first ESPN 2 logo... very expansion.


Meta-Expansion. An expansion team being expansion.

The Atlanta Thrashers 3rd jersey is so expansion.


Ug-ly. They look like jerseys left over from the XFL.

But back to the Kings. When I first saw the Kings 3rd jersey logo that was leaked on the internet, I got nervous...



But when you see it on a jersey, it looks great. The biggest improvement is that they made the crown smaller, so the LA really dominates the jersey. I can't wait to see them on actual NHL players this Saturday, and I'll be sure to provide photo documentation from the game.

All in all, I guess I'm just a traditionalist when it comes to hockey jerseys. The simplier the better.

Man, I love that jersey. I really do.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hot Shots

Kings 0, Ducks 2

These are a tough couple of losses. The Los Angeles Kings are getting plenty of shots on net, but they are first shots with no follow-up chances on the rebounds. An NHL team can sit there and put 50 shots on net a night, but if they aren't getting 2nd and 3rd chances, they'll never score. Over the past 2 nights, the Kings have fired left and right at the goaltenders they've faced, but struggled to get one into the net. It's always easy to blame someone... and that person is Kyle Calder. Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar are getting the first shots in... then Kyle Calder and his enormous hands of stone blow any chance of putting in a rebound. Case in point was that simple drag move that Calder should have pulled in the 3rd period with a wide open net. Instead, he fumbles with the puck and the goalie gets his freakin' skate out in time to poke the puck away. His skate! I don't care who takes his place on the line... Patrick O'Sullivan, Brian Boyle, Ted Purcell, Bailey... just get Calder out of there.

Tonight was the new and improved Rinkside View. Last week, Fox Sports Executive Producer Tom Feuer told the greater Southern California hockey fans to "fuck off." This week, someone at Fox Sports must have reminded Tom how lucky he is to have a job in the current economy because tonight's Rinkside View broadcast was just like any other Kings/Ducks broadcast. With one special change:


Brian Hayward is on the bench!
Now, if they can only move him to outside the Honda Center...
then we are talking about an improved broadcast.


Brian Hayward broadcast from the bench. How silly is this? Is Hayward really getting that much more information from crouching in the corner as the Ducks change lines? Can you imagine Vin Scully calling Gibson's home run from the end of the Dodger's dugout? What if Chick Hearn sat underneath the basket? Fox Sports West... if you want to increase viewership and attention to hockey broadcasts, then just show all the games in HD. I bet your ratings will soar, especially for the "Freeway Faceoff". And why does the Ducks announcer say "rimming" all the time?

The Kings don't play again until Thursday against the Washington Ovechkin's Capitals. My buddy and I have tickets for that game as part of our Half Season Ticket Package. It's going to be great to see the Capitals in person. And with the way the Kings have played over the last week, it should be a good one.