Sunday, October 25, 2009

Secret of their Successes

I submit to you, the valued reader of The Royal Half, the opening paragraph to the game recap of tonight's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Okay... there is a lot going on in those 2 paragraphs. Anze Kopitar is tearing this league up... the Kings are leading the Pacific Division... the Blue Jackets are almost at the top of the Central?!? Is this some sort of "alternate" NHL universe? One that exists just to terrorize Los Angeles Kings fans? Nope... this is the real NHL.


It's simple really. Anze Kopitar waited until his 6.8 million dollar a year contract kicked in before he really started to play hard. And with the way that Anze has played over the first 12 games of the season... Dean Lombardi's 7 year contract with Kopitar might end up being a bargain. But the biggest addition to Kopitar's game this season?

This muppet looking guy. That's who!

Ryan Smyth has done everything that Kings thought he was going to do and more. He has been a strong veteran leader. (He's 33 by the way.. no one refers to me as a "veteran leader" at my office) He's given the Kings a great chance to market the game of hockey to Canadians in Los Angeles. Oh... and he's become the goal-scoring winger that Anze Kopitar has always wanted at his side.

Not too shabby #8!

Even though OG Blogger RudyKelly wasn't thrilled with the arrival of Ryan Smyth in Los Angeles... he has to appreciate the awesomeness of Ryan Smyth by now. Right?!? And hey... remember when everyone was worried that Dustin Brown wasn't scoring as much as he was expected to?

Yeah, I'd be a happy Kings fan if Dustin Brown scored at a point per game pace.

And when will people finally shut up about Anze Kopitar and start paying attention to the real star on the Kings... 19 Year-Old Drew Doughty.

Who the hell is Michael Del Zotto?

That's right Kings fans, Drew Doughty is the 2nd highest scoring defenseman in the NHL. Drew had 27 points in 81 games last year. In 12 games this year... he has 11 points.

Hey Ladies... you think Jon Quick and Davis Drewiske are rich?
Wait till my contract year comes up.

The Kings are playing so well this young season that Fox Sports West HD decided to get a fancy new set for the post-game wrap up show Kings Live.

Worst episode of Good Morning America ever!

I applaud Fox Sports West HD's idea to move the Kings Live set outside into LA Live. But maybe you could have come up with something a little more interesting than 2 chairs and flat screen. Kings President of Business Operations (and all-time leading goal scorer) Luc Robitaille didn't seem to mind.

Kopitar and Smyth remind me of myself and Jim Fox.

I wonder if this set is here to stay. I mean... what could possibly go wrong with conducting live television interviews out among the public streets after a sporting event?

So tonight, stopping by after the game to be the first Kings Live guest with an audience was former Los Angeles Kings 1st line winger, Justin Williams. (ED. NOTE: Apparently, Justin Williams is still a member of the Los Angeles Kings)

Yeah... that shouldn't be distracting at all!

I wonder how long Fox Sports West HD will let this go on for. As for Justin Williams... well Wayne Simmonds sure has done a great job on the first line in his absence. Which really means that Anze Kopitar and Ryan Smyth are the ones really doing all the work.

Okay, so I'm Gretzky and you are Kurri.
No! I'm Gretzky and YOU are Kurri.
Fine, I'm Henrik Sedin and you are Daniel.
No way! I'm Daniel. YOU are Henrik.

Justin Williams' absence from the Kings lineup over the past 3 (soon to be 4) games has gone so unnoticed that Kings Live host Patrick O'Neal said thank you to Jason Williams at the end of the interview. But, when the show came back from break... he did apoligize. Classy move, Patrick.

So how did the Kings do this weekend?


Kings 5, Phoenix 3
Kings 6, BJs 2

What do these two games tell the rest of the NHL? "Don't beat us... cause then we'll beat you!"

This is shaping up to be a pretty decent division... well except for one team. Kings are in San Jose on Wednesday. Another chance to make a statement against a big opponent.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Holy Crap! Can you believe this scary looking dude is tearing up the NHL???

A little early for the Halloween costume huh Franken-Anze?
Oh.... I see... this is awkward.

Well, when you score goals like these... who cares how weird looking you are!

This is the very definition of pwning.

And with a hot NHL player on their roster, the Kings marketing department never misses a beat. Anyone remember "Think Quick and Win Big!"?

That's pretty ballsy to guarantee that Kopitar will get a hat trick
every game in October and November.

But I can understand how easily it is to get excited about how well Kopitar has been playing this young season. When's the last time you saw a Kings player hanging out with these dudes?

Tonight is another big test for the Los Angeles Kings. Really? Really? They are playing the first place (gulp?!?) Phoenix Coyotes in Phoenix. (Sure, the Kings share first place with the Coyotes but the Coyotes have played 2 less games.) I love that Phoenix is following the script of the great motion picture Major League. Team's owner wants to sell and move the team... team responds by going on an amazing run to the playoffs. And then Shane Doan sleeps with Rene Russo.

I'm pretty sure Conrad Hilton played for that team.

It looks like perennial Kings prospect Scott Parse will get his chance to play in the NHL tonight. This guy has been a prospect for like 5 years and now he has to start his career off playing with Jarret Stoll and Teddy Purcell. Everything else should be the same for the Kings as last game against Dallas... except for 2 of the Kings are now making it rain.

Presenting Los Angeles' two newest millionaires.
The one on the left is 24, the one on the right is 23.

Look out, ladies of Redondo Beach.

Sadly, I won't be able to watch this game until Sunday. So don't come here expecting a re-cap. And with a home game tomorrow evening against the Bizarro Kings, The Columbus Blue Jackets... I might just have to pull a doubleheader Sunday evening. In the meantime, check out the great Five for Howling for all things Phoenix or The Cannon for all things Ohio.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On the Road with the Kings.. Kinda

I'm currently on the East Coast on "official" business. So my Los Angeles Kings viewing over the next 2 weeks will be limited by the power of my Slingbox and my access to illegal internet streaming.

NHL Hockey... the way it was meant to be seen.

Kings 5, Stars 4

The only thing sadder than the Kings nearly losing this game by giving up 3 3rd period goals is the Kings broadcast crew trying to make some traction out of memorable Kings moments during the Staples Center's 10 year anniversary. Yeah, I got your LA Kings Staples Center memorable moments right here... how about the first 3 years of the Staples Center when the Kings made the playoffs... and then nothing else but the Lakers.

Don't be so impressed by Luc.
He's looking up at the South Park cartoon making fun of the Dallas Stars.

I watched the first 2 periods with no audio and the 3rd I watched in the comfort of my corporate apartment. So I'm not going to pretend that I really got a sense of how the Kings played in this game. But up until that 3rd period... they looked pretty good to me. Coach Murray was in mid-season form... changing his lines up all over the place. And you got to admit... how cool was it to see Wayne Simmonds on that first line.

This guy looks cool even during an in-between periods interview.

But the Kings rallied to win the game in overtime... and that is exactly what you want from a young team that has lost a 4-1 lead in the 3rd period. They didn't panic and in fact came out very strong at the start of the overtime. After all these years of constantly losing to the Stars... these last 2 games have felt so great. But in a few years... that James Neal is going to be skating circles around the Kings and the rest of the NHL. But that is far enough away.

Let's not forget that Anze Kopitar had a hat trick tonight and now is tied for the league lead in points with some dude named Alex Ovechkin. To say that this has been a breakout season for Anze Kopitar is an understatement. Now where would we have heard that before?

Saturday is a matchup against the Pacific Division leading Phoe-nix Coy-otes??? (Shared with the Kings and the Stars actually) These are not your Phoenix Coyotes of years past... but then again... are these the Kings of the past 10 years at the Staples Center?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stay on Your Feet

Tonight it seemed like the Los Angeles Kings took a look at some game footage from the past calender year and created a "greatest hits" mix of their best plays. Dominating performance by the top line. CHECK. Shut-down defensive hockey. CHECK. A flawless performance on the penalty kill. CHECK. Key saves and little-to-no rebounds given up by your young goalie. CHECK. An excellent victory against a divisional team that you despise with a new coach who has no business being in the NHL. CHECK.

Just remember, Kings fans... if it wasn't for Marc Crawford... there'd be no Drew Doughty.

Kings 4, Dallas Stars 1

Referring to Marc Crawford as the"former coach of the Kings" is like calling Mark Parrish "former Kings All-Star". It boils my blood each time I hear it. This man was hired to guide the rebuilding of a young team and instead drove it skate first into the ground. Crawford took this franchise through its most embarrassing goaltending blunder with Dan Cloutier... and that's saying a lot considering that the Kings have done everything with goalies from drafting Jamie Storr 7th overall to thinking that Roman Checkmanek would lead them to the playoffs. The fact that a NHL team is paying Crawford to coach again is a complete mystery to me.

Sean O'Donnell... just a dude that likes to do interviews with his shirt off.

Of course for Kings fans, the biggest news tonight was the absence of Dallas Stars forward Brad Richards. But sliding in under the radar was Coach Murray's benching of Kings star forward, Alexander Frolov. Unhappy with Frolov's play this season (and understandably so)... Murray held back nothing in his assessment of the soon to be Free Agent...

"It’s got to get better. You’ve got to buy into the team. That’s the only way. If we’re going to change our culture… That was a big issue last year, with me coming in here, in my meetings with players at the start of the year. We’re changing the culture, we’re changing style, philosophy, system, and we need total buy-in. That’s the only way you can become a good hockey club."

This is the difference between a team that is young and learning and a team that is expected to make the playoffs. Last season, Frolov doesn't get benched and the Kings try to make do with his sub-par play. This season, with the expectations high... Frolov gets a short leash. This sends a big message to him and to the rest of the team, as no one is free from the possibility of a healthy scratch. And you may have read in the last The Royal Half post that this team was due for a shakeup. Well, Kings... meet your shakeup. Frolov will be back in the lineup on Thursday against the Stars at home. Coach Murray is smarter than to keep him out of back to back games. But more than ever, in a season that was to be spent tracking the trade progress of this enigmatic star winger, the trading of Frolov might soon become a distinct possibility.

I'm trying to decide if I want to make one a friend and one part of the family.

Since I'm patting myself on the back for my last post... tonight with a few minutes left in the 2nd period, Dustin Brown came streaking down the left side, pulled a toe drag move and drew a penalty. It's refreshing to know that both the Kings management AND players are frequent readers of this blog.

I'm sorry for how I played the last 2 games.

The Kings have been running this all season... but tonight was the first game I really noticed it. They have a new sponsorship with Timberland shoes (because nothing screams hockey like Timberland). They sponsor the play of the game, naming it "Stay on Your Feet."

Timberland! For all your hockey needs!

Well, that's exactly what the Kings did tonight. They stayed on their feet, played their game and looked incredibly solid against a division rival. The Kings have ended their longest road trip of the season only 1 point out of first in the Pacific.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Sick Loss

I think I figured out what the difference is with Dustin Brown this year. Sure, he's scored 2 goals on this road trip... but he seems like a different player out there on the ice. Last season, when Dustin played the left wing, he could (and did!) pull a move like this each night.

Wow... life before HD video grabs.
And yes, that is injured defenseman Jack Johnson with the insightful analysis.

This season... on the right wing... he physically can't make that move. But it's not the move itself, it's the Dustin Brown who keeps his legs moving forward during this move and would usually draw a penalty. Where has that Dustin Brown gone? Oh and Jon Quick... in the midst of a 2 game losing streak on a long road trip... it may not be the best time to stop with your pre-game tradition.

Oh! So this is what an opening face-off looks like. Cool.

Kings 1, Blue Jackets 4

One aspect of the Los Angeles Kings game that I'm not digging right now is the placement of forward Justin Williams on point during the powerplay. I haven't really seen what the upside of this move is quite yet. I don't mind Jarett Stoll at the point on the other powerplay unit (mainly because he has a massive shot) but I'm feeling that after tonights game... the Kings powerplay units are in for a shakeup. In fact, I think this entire team is in for a shakeup from Coach Murray and his staff. With at least 3 sick players in the lineup tonight... it's pretty easy to see why the Kings played so pukey. HEY-OH!

Talk about a flu blug!
Hey Blue Jackets... you may want a mascot that doesn't scare children.

If this bad play continues (and you better believe me, this has been some bad play... one great period does not make a full game) one can only wonder how long before Kings fans start calling for the players heads. Uh-oh... we may be too late.

It was fun while it lasted, Jon Quick.

And I may not be an NHL caliber player... but I'm pretty sure that if I could clearly see the puck in front of me, I wouldn't be raising my arms in celebration of a goal like Antoine Vermette did tonight after Jon Quick made an amazing save.

The puck is clearly in front of him, right under his armpit.

And finally, I saw one of the greatest examples of fan dedication during the game tonight from the Blue Jacket home crowd.

It's not so much that he's really fat and dancing.
It's not so much that he painted a six pack of beer cans on his stomach.
It's not so much the dude taking a camera phone pic of him.
It's that he took the time to write tiny little "Bud Light's" on each of the cans.
That's dedication.

Special thanks to dedicated Royal Half reader, one-time blog contributor and fierce fan of all things cake, Brian, for this link:

Apparently, someone made the saddest LA Kings cake ever. They must have made it to celebrate this 3 game losing streak.

Scar 2: The Revenge

Guess whooooo's baaaaaack?

Oscar Moller's back. Back again.

With a strain of the Swine Flu apparently running rampant amongst the Kings... Swede Fan Favorite Oscar Moller has been called up in preparation for a few Kings not being able to play in tonight's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. One of the few training camp surprises in the sense that many Kings fans thought Moller would be able to secure a spot with the team... I was fine with him being sent down to Manchester to get some first and second line duty in. But tonight, if I'm Teddy Purcell... I make sure I find a way to be in that game so I don't lose my 2nd line spot to the "Scar."

Those precious little crowns get me every time.

I'm actually really excited to watch the Blue Jackets versus the Kings tonight as they seem to be mirror images of each other. Except for one huge factor... the Blue Jackets have one of the best young goalies in the league.

Steve Mason will eat your pucks and spit them out.

The Kings win tonight and they can finish this road trip at Dallas on Tuesday at the worst .500. But with 4 possible Kings Day-Quil'ing it up tonight... who knows what will go down?

Thursday, October 15, 2009


How does a rational Kings fan react to these back to back losses? Do you panic that the 4-1 start was a compete fluke? Do you rejoice in the fact that the Kings have dominated most of the past 2 games but just have run into some great saves by experienced goalies? Do you worry that Alexander Frolov had a hard time staying on his feet this game and that during a crucial 3rd period possession near-rookie Teddy Purcell reached out with his stick instead of putting his body forward to keep a puck in the Detroit zone? Do you hope that Coach Murray does plenty of drills where the Kings practice keeping the puck in at the blueline? Do you give up on the young season and start checking out who the hot prospects are for the draft? Or do you realize the Kings are still tied for first in the Pacific and are 2-2 on their longest road trip of the year? Sometimes being a Kings fan just makes you want to scream.

It's nights like this that make Rudy Kelly proud of his Ryan Smyth hatred.

Kings 2, The Stupid Team that Always Beats Us 5

The demise of the Detroit Red Wings has been greatly exaggerated. Sure they may not be flying out of the gate like seasons past, but even without Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen... the Red Wings still have Zetterberg, Holmstrom and Rafalski. Even the statisticians are grasping at straws to make the Detroit start seem worse than it really is.

Really? 2-3 is your worst start in 8 years?
There are seasons where I would have killed for the Kings to start off 2-3.

They may be a little slower... a little older (or maybe not without Chris Chelios in the lineup) but I'm sure the Detroit Red Wings will be a team to contend with this season in the Western Conference. Whether or not the Los Angeles Kings will be right there with them... well that remains to be seen. If this team cannot win an offensive zone faceoff or stop a team on the powerplay... keeping up the elite pace they have going so far will be a difficult chore. Oh, and Fox Sports West HD... I think you are starting to get a little too cutesy with the "See What Develops" campaign.

I hope Jim Fox was the hand model for this one.


Now I know why Anze Kopitar has looked so great during the start of this young season... he has horribly debilitating Obsessive Control Disorder!

Take a look at this video (no audio) from the Kings 6-3 win over the Minnesota Wild on October 8th.

Take a sniff of the smelling salt... water over left shoulder, water over right shoulder...
a little water on the toes... and then go out and get 4 points.

And then last night, during the Kings 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers.

I love how Justin Williams is looking around, just trying not to stare.

Pro Sports athletes having rituals is nothing new. Some have been truly been bizarre. While others are completely awesome to watch. Heck, even I for some stupid reason always put my right skate on first, then my right shinpad, then my left skate, left shinpad. (I think I do this because I read that Gretzky did it in his auto-biography, Gretzky: An Auto-Biography)

So the fact that Anze does this makes me like him even more. It's refreshing that a player with immense talent still feels like he needs a little luck at the start of each period. At least it's worked out better for Kopitar than it did for this guy.

At the end of the day... it's a little silly to be so obsessive over something. It would be like taking the time to upload videos onto youtube every time there is something wrong with an on-screen graphic during a game. I mean... how crazy does that sound?!? Almost as crazy as facing towards the net every time before the puck is dropped to start a game.

Los Angeles Kings vs Detroit Red Wings tonight. The Kings have a lot to prove in this game if they want the hype to continue. Pavel Datsyuk is out and this is a great opportunity to show the Red Wings they won't have the Kings to kick around anymore. Check out the great Abel to Yzerman or Winging it in Motown for some Detroit coverage of tonights game.

Wow, so I guess that KingsVision had a video of Kopitar doing this up on their site. I had no idea that it was there. And I wasted my freakin' time creating and uploading these videos!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ragtime Blues

The Los Angeles Kings looked lifeless at times during their game versus the New York Rangers tonight. They over skated pucks, bobbled blue line passes and just kind of looked like they weren't having fun at all. But with that said... they actually could have won tonight. 36 shots against the best team in Eastern Conference ain't all that bad. The Kings played a better overall game than the New York Rangers... well better than everyone on the Rangers except for goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Kings 2, Rangers 4

Ryan Smyth arrives in NYC the only way he knows how...
with total effin' style.

With all the excitement over the Kings recent play and the hype for the match-up between two of the hottest teams in the NHL... I was beyond excited to get home and watch this game in glorious HD... aw what?!?

This was what I watched from 15:00 until 10:00 in the first period.

Really, Fox Sports West HD? This is now the 2nd time in a week you've had to throw the old test pattern up on the HD box. And to think, I was just about to become your friend on Facebook. I mean, you are putting hints everywhere... even on the scoreboard.

OMG, Fox Sports West. You are so desperate.

Is there a more bad-ass looking coach in the NHL than John Tortorella?

If I were a network executive, I would do a remake of The Rockford Files
starring John Tortorella and I'd call it "Tort's Law."

Ok... I can think of one coach that is more bad-ass than Tortorella.

You don't want to see Coach Murray upset.

In between periods, Superstar GM Dean Lombardi paid a visit and chatted with Bob Miller. Lombardi has to be smiling big this days, as his team is the talk of the hockey world and no one remembers that he actually signed Ladislav Nagy a few years ago.

Listen... just cause a guy is a dominant force among GM's
doesn't mean he can't have a pen in his pocket.

And Canadian Thanksgiving might have been Monday, but it's never too late to celebrate all things Canadian.

Well it would be silly to have a Canadian night without inviting Captain Canada.

Hey Kings marketing. The Tragically Hip? I could think of a few better Canadian rock bands that would be a little more geared towards a hockey crowd. Whom do you ask?

The Band
Neil Young
The Guess Who
Bachman Turner Overdrive
Tom Cochrane
Jeff Healey
Anne Murray

Former First Round Draft pick Brian Boyle (selected just before Corey Perry) complained today that the he always felt like the Kings coaches were riding him hard... always looming over his shoulder. Well, you know why they did that Brian? Because you aren't a good hockey player. And they were just trying to get you to be a better one. Brian Boyle's play in tonights game is very typical of his frustrating young career. A goal scored by him only to be followed by a lazy hooking penalty and a power play goal against. Good riddance to Boyle and I'm glad he's the Rangers problem now.

Speaking of New York Rangers problems... it's good to know that Sean Avery is back in mid-season form.

Maybe he just dropped his tear sheets on the ice.

Oh man, Anna is gonna be pissed if I can't find these.