Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kings vs Flames: We're En Fuego!

After an abysmal November, the Kings have finally caught fire and have a solid win streak going with their third victory tonight against the Calgary Flames.   The Flames have been one of those teams that give the Kings problems no matter where they sit in the standings, so this win was another important test of the Kings mettle.  They passed with flying colors, folks.

Some observations and notable moments:
  • Kyle Clifford FINALLY broke it open and scored his first NHL goal!  The joy on his face was unforgettable, and the whole team smiled right along with him. It will be at least a week before we wipes it off.
  • Later in the first period, Cliffy dropped the gloves and went rounds with Flames enforcer Tim Jackman.  Sadly, a Gordie Howe Hat Trick was not to be, but it was fun watching the kid scrap with a dude at least a head taller!  Hats off to Jackman for being classy with the scrap and giving Cliffy a night to remember.
  • Yesterday was Drew Doughty's 21st birthday, so signs were in order.
Nice try, honey...

Let The Queen show you how a REAL sign is done.....
  •  Some of the Flames were kind enough to have a polite little chat with Dewey and wish him well on his big day.

Stajan: "Hey, congrats on the big day, man.  Beers on me."
  • Rene Bourque is NOT one of the polite ones.  When he next returns to Staples Center, The Queen will be borrowing a goalie stick from Quick and be ready to spear him right in the nads as payback for his mean and completely uncalled for treatment of her favorite defenceman.  You shamed your family name tonight, Rene.  And payback is a b***h...just ask Bobby Ryan.
  • The only bad thing about the December is the return of the tacky silver Ice Girl Santas.  There's just no reason for this kind of humiliation, is there?

The Kings end their current home stand Saturday against the Minnesota Wild, which will include the return of one of The Queen's beloved former Kings.   Does Santa have one last win for us before our pre-Christmas roadie?  Be at Staples Center to find out.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Make My Monday: Holiday Cheer Edition

The holidays are fast approaching, and if you're like me, a special breed of insanity takes over your life.  You're happy to be buying awesome gifts for people, you love decorating, baking holiday goodies is a blast -- but it's all work!  So you need a reality check every now and then.  Laughs always work for me, especially when they're hockey related!

If you know about "Make My Day Monday," you know Dustin Brown is the KING of do-gooders in this department.  He always posts his MMDM's on Twitter, and I always feel good reading them.  Sometimes he makes you laugh as well, like this Monday's installment....

Apparently the tally of broken ornaments was ONLY 4!  Pretty good considering Brownie's little ones are both boys and their Dad crushes big dudes for a living.

On the gift front, I've been dealing with too much mailbox traffic from the catalog fairy lately, but I did get a NHL gift flyer with some interesting ideas.  I'm thinking one of my dear friends needs THIS for Christmas....

Yeah, maybe not.

For me, nothing beats a Drew Doughty tapestry throw!  Who better than your favorite defenceman to keep your feet warm while you're watching hockey and drinking a toasty beverage?

Whatever your gift choices this holiday, make it Kings-themed and you're GUARANTEED to make someones Monday!  And it's more fun than lifting Christmas trees....just ask Brownie.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kings vs Wings: Yes, This REALLY Happened!

A funny thing happened on my walk to Staples Center last night.  I was headed down Figueroa, minding my own business, when I noticed two men approaching me, wearing Red Wings jerseys.   I didn't try to make eye contact, because I've read that staring down animals in the wild is a good way to get attacked.

No, this wasn't one of the guys, but he sure looks like he could attack something....
Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw one approach me.  I stopped dead in my tracks, which is what you're supposed to do to help the wild animal know you don't want to hurt them.

"Which way is Staples Center?" he asked.

So now I had a dilemma. These poor guys were walking the wrong way.  It was the classic case of the Devil on one shoulder and the Angel on the other,  both whispering in your ear:

Devil:  "Damn Wingnuts!  Of course they'd be this stupid.  They're probably bandwagon fans anyway, and there will be thousands of them at the game tonight.  If they're too stupid to look up directions, they don't deserve to see the game!  Let 'em keep going until they end up in Koreatown!"

Angel:  "These poor boys!  Maybe they don't have the best taste in hockey teams, but they're hockey fans!  And you've needed help yourself before visiting other cities.  The right thing is to get them turned around and on their way.  They even have time to see the Christmas tree lighting ceremony, and won't that be a fun memory for them to have of Los Angeles?"

And so as much as I found the Devil's arguments interesting, I listened to the angel, redirected the poor lost Red Wings fans the right way, and guaranteed my place in Heaven.  I was also hoping maybe, just maybe, my good deed would earn the Kings some goal scoring karma.  Especially when the guys thanked me, then finished the thanks with, "But we're still going to beat you."  And you wonder why we hate Red Wings fans?

When I arrived at Staples Center, I shared the story with some friends and made a bold prediction -- the Kings would score 2 goals since I saved 2 Red Wings fans out of the goodness of my heart.  As it turns out, The Hockey Gods heard me.

The Kings won a stunning upset in overtime in front of a sell-out crowd at least 50% composed of Red Wings fans.  And the number of goals scored in regulation? TWO.

Let's talk about some key individual performances that stood out (at least to me).

Trevor Lewis: OK, has this kid starting doubling down on his Wheaties, or is it just me?  Lewis was en fuego last night!  He skated like a demon, and he was all over the ice, but in a focused way, making some key reads on the forecheck and being in EXACTLY the right place at the right time to catch passes and start driving into the Red Wings zone.  I have never been especially high on Lewis since training camp, because he never stood out to me.  It's a great example of a guy stepping up when the coach takes a chance and gives him some responsibility.  Consider me a new Lewis fan.

Alec Martinez:  His first couple of games after being called up from Manchester were rough, to say the least. To me, he let far too many pucks slip past the blue line in the defensive zone, his puck handling was just okay, he had no business being on the power play and he didn't look all that comfortable in general.  What a difference a few games makes.  With a goal and an assist, Martinez logged his first career multi-point game last night.  Let's hope it's the first of many.

 Peter Harrold:  Who IS Peter Harrold?  I mean really?  The guy that sat virtually all of last season as a healthy scratch now has 2 points in 2 games?  I don't have the stats to prove it, but I could swear he's logged more ice time in the past week than he did the past two years.  Okay, maybe that's exaggerating, but only a little.  Wherever this current bit of hockey magic is coming from, the Kings need to find a way to bottle it, because it's the new "Kings Kool-Aid."  Davis Drewiske needs to start crushing some of that Kool-Aid...STAT.

Drew Doughty:  It's no secret I have almost unhealthy amounts of love for my Dewey.  Listening to news outlets, bloggers and fans berate him for being out of shape has been painful, and don't even get me started on the  "party-boy" rumors.  Here's the reality folks.  Doughty will NEVER be a gym rat, so get over it!   Last night, he played a career high 30:41 and looked better doing it than he has all season.  If he was that out of shape they would have carried him off the ice after 30 minutes.  More importantly, this guy has what many other players don't -- off the chart COMPETITIVENESS!  He has a passion to win.  He doesn't quit.  That, plus his incredible hockey sense, is what we're buying.  He's bringing it.  Finally.

A few more game notes and observations:
  • After 2 games in row taking bench minors for too many men,  I saw more on-ice communication between lines and players than I've seen in a month or so.  The Kings started to look like a team again out there last night.  
  • Anze Kopitar came up big last night, exactly when it mattered.  That's why he's "our guy."  Why no one has seen fit to give him a #1 Star of the Night after 2 game winners in a row is simply beyond me.
  • interesting is a good word.   Maybe the game looks that much different from the press box than from the 7th row.
  • Wayne Simmonds' game has looked terrible ever since Ponikarovsky's injury.  That 3rd line had so much chemistry coming out of camp, it may have disguised some real issues with Simmonds.  No matter which line he's played on since, he's been just awful -- lousy skating, bad puck handling, the whole nine.  He'd better turn some things around soon, or he's looking like trade bait.
  • Was Davis Drewiske even playing last night?  I know we buried him on the fourth line when we moved him from defence to wing (still scratching my head over that one), but I swear I don't remember noticing him on the ice after the warm-up skate.  Too busy watching that wizard Harrold, I guess.
  • While we're on the subject of weird line-up moves, is Terry Murray crazy or a genius?  It took balls to make that Harrold-Drewiske line-up decision in a match-up against the Western Conference leader.  I don't have them.  Coach Murray apparently does.  I guess that explains why I don't make my living coaching a hockey team.  A few more of those gutsy decisions pay off, and he's in the race for the Jack Adams -- hands down.
Finally, some craziness....

I was virtually surrounded by Red Wings fans in my section.  Most of them looked "normal."

One, however, was anything BUT....

"Rally Al?"  Really?  REALLY?
In spite of being surrounded by the enemy, The Mayor always protects our section with his special brand of heckling.  He insulted Todd Bertuzzi so badly the big guy finally shot him a dirty look, which I caught on camera.

That's right big guy...your team is going DOWN! Love, The Mayor and The Queen
And just in case you were wondering, my Moustache Conspiracy Theory is now proven fact -- just sayin.'


Friday, December 3, 2010

The Sturm Und Drang of Trades In A Wired World

When news of a Kings trade with Boston for left winger Marco Sturm broke Thursday morning, I found out via text from a hockey buddy.  In the 5 minutes it took for me to hop on Twitter and get a handle on what was happening, what we now know was really a rumor took on a life of it's own and became a full fledged deal.   

By the end of the day, there were stories on every major hockey website (including, every blogger had tackled the issue, and they all had to be edited or rescinded when word came down that it was all just a discussion...and an early one at that.  All, that is, except posts from the LA Kings Insider himself, Mr. Rich Hammond, who once again proved he knows his stuff better than most.

Maybe news moves a little too fast these days for it's own good.

Putting aside the traditional press vs. New Media issues, it's understandable how something like this happens.  The Kings have a fan base more excited about the team than they've been in over 10 years.  The season started with a bang, and now the gaping hole at left wing we couldn't fill during the off-season is threatening to sink the ship like the Titanic.  Everyone is looking for an answer -- a solution to the problem. 

Is Marco Sturm the answer?  Maybe, and maybe not.   But in the light of day twenty-four hours after the mad rush started, one thing is clear.  None of the right answers will be fast ones.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kings vs Panthers: Finally a WIN!

It wasn't pretty.  We're still not the dominant team we were in October.  But boy, the Kings needed one in the win column and they finally got it, outscoring the Florida Panthers 3-2 in regulation.  That's two huge points and critical momentum going into Saturdays contest against the Western Conference leading Detroit Red Wings.

Jarret Stoll and the Geezers got it started right in the first, only to see the Panthers tie it up before the end of the period.  The second was up and down, and mostly down on the officiating side of things.  For anyone reading who attended the game, is it just me or did we Justin Williams get royally ROBBED of a breakout goal?  And then the robbery continued with NO penalty shot when there was obvious interference.  Oh, and we don't get ANY KIND OF PENALTY?  Just kill me now!

Then early in the 3rd, I was reminded what a crazy game hockey can be.  I'm chatting with my buddy Collector Joe and I pose the question, "Can you explain this attraction we have with Peter Harrold?"  I was fully intending to finish the thought with, "Drewiske is bigger and doesn't play worse, right?"  Then the unthinkable happened.  Clifford freed up a puck in front of the Panthers net, made a nice pass back to Harrold near the blue line, and Harrold BURIED IT!  I turned to Joe and asked, "Did that just happen?"

Kudos to Harrold on his first goal this season, and BIG UPS to rookie Kyle Clifford on his first NHL point!  Let's get this kid a goal next, shall we?

THIS GUY also had a big night - #1 Star of the Night.

I'm not gonna lie to you.  When they announced Kopitar as the third star for getting the game winner, I honestly thought Quick was going to get YET ANOTHER #1 Star of the Night.  Doughty played more like last season's Drew Doughty against the Panthers than he has all year, but was still far from what he's capable of doing.  Did he win points with the media for saying this was a "must win game?"  Maybe.  Maybe this will be the moment that opens the floodgates and returns that waterfall of talent to the ice.  We love you kid, just keep your foot on the gas pedal, because you AND this team still have work to do.

Are the "real" Kings back?  The big test comes Saturday against Detroit.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Kings vs. Ducks: The Curse of the Ponda

When you become a Kings fan, you instantly adopt an innate hatred of our crosstown rivals, the Anaheim Ducks.  It's one of those unspoken and automatic things, like Caps fans hating the Penguins, or Leafs fans despising the Habs.   The sight of a Ducks jersey prompts an uncontrollable gag reflex.  Mention of Corey Perry makes you see red.  And Bobby Ryan...well, don't get me started.

This is why I refuse to set foot inside the Honda Center.

It's like the Bermuda Triangle of hockey.  Bad things happen there.  Unexplainable things, like The Blair Witch Project meets The Exorcist bad stuff.   The Kings drowned in The Pond tonight, suffering their fourth loss in a row and the seventh one in their last eight games.  I was home listening on the radio and doing my best not to break my Doughty stick in half.

Some observations:
  • When Kevin Westgarth has more shots on goal in the third period than any other forward, you've got offensive problems.  And by offensive, I don't mean how bad his nose looks. although apparently he plays better with it broken.
  • When your best shooter has the puck and gets robbed by the opposing team goalie, you're either snake-bitten or your shot needs work.  Thoughts on that, Kopitar?
  • When your Norris Trophy-nominated defensive phenom creates a turnover and two penalties that lead to the game winning goal, you've got work to do.  How about it, Drew?
  • When your defense overall coughs up the puck enough times that you lose count, you're thinking someone is getting benched.  I'm looking at you, Jack Johnson.
  • When your hallowed defensive core turns into your Achilles heels overnight, you're re-evaluating the depth chart if you're Dean Lombardi.  You're probably also working the phones a little harder trying to fill some holes at both ends of said chart.
  • When you're wondering when Coach Murray is ordering a bag skate, you know EVERYONE in in the doghouse, unless your name is Jonathan Quick.
November cannot end soon enough for the Kings.  This game did confirm at least one thing -- The Moustache Conspiracy theory is REAL.   As my fellow blogger Matt Reitz of View From My Seats Tweeted me tonight....

Is it December yet?

If there was one bright spot tonight, it was the Kings FANS.  A kick-ass group of folks, led by the Die Hard Los Angeles Kings Fan group, rocked the Ponda so hard the Ducks fans were put to shame.   Keep those chants going, my friends!  Our team will find the answers, and our next visit to Anaheim will have a different outcome.   The Queen salutes you!


Friday, November 26, 2010

Kings Alumni Score and Support Local Hockey

Every hockey player remembers the place they first fell in love with the sport - their local rink.  Those young players who grow up and enjoy the ultimate success of a professional career in the NHL always remember where they began, and many return to give back to the communities that gave them a start.  Tonight, a group of LA Kings Alumni supported that very idea with a charity event at Ice Station in Valencia, CA.

The Kings Alumni entertained a capacity crowd, playing a high scoring contest against the Ice Station All-Stars and raising money to benefit the Valencia Flyers Junior A squad.   

The Alumni proved they still have moves to spare, led by Kings Player Development staffer Nelson Emerson who scored a hat trick en route to a 14-9 win.  But the best parts of the game were the less serious ones, including a goalie swap, a brief scrap on the Kings bench, and one tossed stick sliding half way down the ice courtesy of Ian Turnbull.

And then there was Marty McSorley.  Say what you want about Marty, but he knows how to have fun AND he makes sure everyone else has a great time too.  Before the game, he flashed a huge smile for fans looking down from the bleachers hoping to get his photo.  On the ice, he was like a stage director, coordinating group photos and generally organizing everyone and everything.  But his finest moment was in the shoot-out.

During the first intermission, the Kings staged a shoot out skill event against players from the Valencia Express Youth Hockey Club.   I'm pretty sure our Alumni were getting a little tired already, because not too many shots went in.   The kids in goal may have been a little on the small side, but they sure had focus!  Especially the kid that went up against Marty.   Check out the video!

So nice to see a hockey legend provide such a memorable moment for a kid learning to love the sport!  

That was exactly the point of the evening.  Work hard, compete, but above all have fun.  And when you grow up to be a famous hockey player, remember to give back to the place that got you started.


P.S. - You can check out more shoot-out videos and event photos on the Kings Court Facebook page!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Moustache Conspiracy

You can point to a lot of reasons why the Kings aren't winning these days.  Defensive breakdowns, a still power-less power play, too many penalties or a weakened penalty kill.  But lately, I've been thinking none of these are the REAL reason.  So what is?


I am not a girl opposed to a little scruffiness, but for some reason moustaches have never really appealed to me.   They always make me think of bad TV from the 70's, or B-movies, or The Village People.  I appreciate our boys are helping the NHL support Movember and bring attention to prostate cancer research, but I'm really starting to think the extra facial hair is stealing our mojo.

"I think I've done my part for the year...I know I look weird, but I'm still cool....right?? And for the last time, I am NOT Italian!  Leave me alone, already!"
So if we want to go back to our winning ways, I think a shave-down is in order.   The sooner, the better.  Is it December yet?


Hockey Watch, Montreal Style!

There are plenty of places to enjoy a Kings hockey watch party in Los Angeles.  But when the Kings play on the road in Montreal, there is really only ONE place to watch --  The Redondo Beach Cafe. 

Home to the best Canadian food, beverage and hospitality in the South Bay, RBC is owned and operated by proud Canadians who are also incredible Kings supporters.  For that reason, we regulars forgive the fact that they're also Habs fans.

I like to know when things are happening at RBC, so I subscribe to their e-mail newsletter.  For the unacquainted, here is more information about RBC from one of their recent e-mail posts:

The Redondo Beach CafĂ© is owned and operated by native Montrealers. We proudly serve a Montreal Menu, featuring Smoked Meat brought in from Montreal, authentic Poutine with real Curd Cheese, Montreal Style Greek Food “Awarded South Bay’s Best” including our famous Tzatziki Sauce, Montreal Style Subs, Hamburger Steak as well as Montreal Bagels and Tim Hortons’ Coffee. Our homemade desserts sont incroyables! This year’s featured dessert will be Maple Syrup Sugar Pie!

Montreal food aside, these folks love the Kings so much they name food after our players!  That's right!  I can personally attest to the warm goodness of "Foxy's Chicken Noodle Soup," and "Lucky Luc's Original" foot long legend submarine sandwich is a do-not-miss.  And of course, it's the best place to get that Canadian artery clogger we all love -- POUTINE!

Tonight, RBC hosts a watch party with some pretty sweet ticket giveaways!  Check out this link to the event info on RBC's site for more information.

Section 117 Ticket Giveaways - Tonight only!

The puck drops on all the fun at 4:30 PM, but be sure to get there early.  The Queen and her entourage will be there, so you don't want to miss it!


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Kings-Predators Recap: Mullets Are Awesome

The Kings have been unstoppable at home this season, but when the Nahsville Predators rolled into town, I started to worry. 

Yes, they were dealing with key injuries.  Yes, Shane O'Brien would undoubtedly plan to rattle my boys.  And Shea Weber....well, we all remember the Olympics last year, yes?  The shot so hard it nicked the back of the net and put the fear of God and Team Canada in everyone's hockey hearts?  Yes, that Shea Weber is CAPTAIN of the opposing team. 

Saturday games were quite simply Kryptonite for the Kings last year -- especially Saturday afternoon games, especially against the Predators.  Thank goodness the hockey powers that be rescheduled the game from 1 PM to 7 PM to help us out!  And this year, we had a secret super-power more critical than rocket-hard shots and $10 million sniping left wingers to help bring home a win.

We had mullets.

If you missed Kings "Mullet Mania," you were sleeping under a rock for the past 24 hours.   Go to the Kings Court facebook page and fix that...NOW.

It started at practice, with all the Kings players wearing mullets in honor of Ryan Smyth's 1,000 NHL game.  It continued when the players skated onto the ice wearing said mullets, taking a few laps around the ice, and then tossing them over the boards to the elation of fans.

I think this look works for Westy and Willy....
I love this team!

Beyond the obvious comedy factor, this is when you know you have a group of hockey players that are a REAL TEAM.  They care enough about each other that they think of something unique and personal to honor one of their own.  Anyone can chip in to buy a watch.  It takes a real team mate to make a fool out of himself to show the love.  Well played boys, well played. 

Of course, the real mullet has power of it's own.

The man, the mullet, the legend....
The power park it in front of the net for the 1,000 time, screen yet another superb opposing goaltender, take a feed from the team mate that wants you to have your moment of glory be as magnificent as possible -- and score a goal.    A momentous night for a gentle warrior and model King.

And thank goodness for the power of the mullet to energize the crowd, because after war with Tampa Bay Thursday night, this game felt like a bit of a snooze-fest, albeit a winning one.  It was probably especially boring for poor Kevin Westgarth, who still can't get a fight.  Nice to see Shane O'Brien brought his brain to the game for once and kept his mouth shut.

So with the 4-1 victory, the Kings are perfect at home, hold a 10-3 record and sit at the top of the NHL standings, 1 point ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. 

The Kings look good, even with an out-of-date hairstyle....


Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Devil Went Down to Georgia"....Uh, Make That LA!

Halloween always makes me think of the Charlie Daniels' song "Devil Went Down to Georgia."  Couple that thought with the pending appearance in Los Angeles of an overly priced NJ Devil who formerly played in that lovely state, and inspiration struck.

Here's my Kings-Devils version of the song.

The Devil went down to LA, he was looking for a game to steal.
He was in a bind 'cos he was way behind: he was willin' to make a deal.
When he came across this young man shootin' pucks and hitting nets.
And the Devil jumped up on top of the bench and said: "Boy let me tell this:
"I bet you didn't know it, but I'm a hockey player too.
"And if you'd care to take a dare, I'll make a bet with you.
"Now you play a pretty good hockey, boy, but give the Devil his due:
"I bet a stick of gold against your soul, 'cos I think I'm better than you."
The boy said: "My name's Kopi and it might just be a sin,
"But I'll take your bet, your gonna regret, 'cos I'm the best that's ever been."

Kopi, you tape up your stick and shoot those pucks real hard.
'Cos hells broke loose in Jersey and the Devil deals the cards.
And if you win you get this shiny stick-blade made of gold.
But if you lose, the Devil gets your soul.

The Devil opened up his bag and he said: "I'll start this trick."

And fire flew from his fingertips as he taped up his stick.
And he slapped his stick and launched the puck and it made an evil hiss.
Then a band of demons crashed the crease, but still the puck just missed.
When the Devil finished, Kopi said: "Well you're pretty good ol' son.
"But sit down on that bench, right there, and let me show you how its done."

Fire on the mountain, shoot boys, skate.

The Devil's in the house, but our Kings are great!
Quickie in the goal crease, pickin' off shots.
"Simmer, does your bruise hurt?"
"Absolutely NOT."

The Devil bowed his head because he knew that he'd been beat.

He laid that golden stick-blade on the ground at Kopi's feet.
Kopi said: "Devil just come on back if you ever want to try again.
"I told you once, you son of a gun, I'm the best that's ever been."


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Happy Homecoming: Kings vs Thrashers

Oh what a difference a year makes!  At the Kings home opener last year, they endured a brutal loss, played terribly and ultimately got booed of the ice.  Fortunately, that disaster ended up being a case of opening night jitters for a young team that moved on to it's most successful season in 10 years.
Fast forward 12 months and the Kings kicked off their residency at Staples Center in much better fashion, beating the Atlanta Thrashers 3-1 in regulation.

Things got off to a chippy start and the Kings were down 1-0 at the end of the second period, but perseverance and experience paid off, thanks in large part to the hard-working Ryan Smyth and a rock solid performance in goal by #1 Star of the Night Jonathan Quick.

Here are some other observations I had from the game and game related festivities:
  • Hockey themed cupcakes rule.
  • The fact that a bunch of solar energy nerds got a bigger portion of LA Live than the Kings still bugs me.  
  • The sight of Kevin Westgarth exiting a Ford Bronco just emphasizes why the dude is so cool.
  • I had a brief Hendrix air guitar moment watching Slash play the National Anthem.
  • The Kings brass had better lock down Wayne Simmonds.  He got the biggest applause of the night during player introductions -- HANDS DOWN. 
  • Brayden Schenn is the real deal, people.  Brian Burke hates us even more now than he did when we drafted the kid.
  • I am all for Terry Murray changing lines to get the best offensive production, but I hope he gives Lotkionov more time with Kopitar.  I really think that could be magic.
  • Drew Doughty has spent so much time in the box so far this season, he's started putting his hands in the air immediately after her makes contact with anyone.    I think the refs are being paid off by the "Mike Green for Norris Trophy" committee.  Drew isn't having any of it, people.
  • Brent Sopel's hair is still as greasy as I remember.
  • Dustin Byfuglien is HUGE.  Just...HUGE.
  • He was only with the Kings a small portion of last season, but I kinda miss Freddie Modin.
  • It was nice to see the Kings honor the sizable Armenian community here in LA since Thrashers' Zach Bogosian is the only Armenian player in the NHL.  It's also good the players from the Armenian National Hockey Team in attendance have very broad shoulders -- that's a lot of letters on the back of a jersey.
  • And finally....the fact that roster cards are gone SUCKS!  This will require a separate blog.
Congrats to the Kings on a fabulous start to the season so far. 


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pre-Game Rituals

Much has been written about athletes and their pre-game rituals.  For hockey players, it's everything from eating the same meal to napping to putting on your gear left to right, or vice versa.  As a fan, I have my own pre-game routines.  Now that the home opener is finally here, it's time to get back into the groove!

Today is a little different for two reasons.  It's the home opener, so there are special events going on before the game I want to be involved in.  And this year, I actually had the sense to take the day off from work so I could really enjoy the whole game experience. 

But I do have a "normal" pre-game routine I follow for the rest of the home games during the season.  Here's a look inside what it takes to get The Queen game ready!

Night before the game
Yes, I actually start the evening before.  Planning in crucial to a successful game day, and I've learned through hard experience that tons of stress can be avoided on game with a little pre-emptive strike.
  • Plan game outfit. (Which jersey is the team wearing? Is it clean?  Is everything that goes WITH the rest of the outfit clean?)
  • Do laundry if required by findings of bullet point one.
  • Put ticket in wallet.
  • Manicure.

Purple? Check! Sparkly? Check!

Day of the game
  • Check pre-game news and reports on-line during breakfast.
  • Post anything noteworthy to Facebook and Twitter.
  • Make notes of things to watch for post-game blog.
  • Get dressed for work.  Game day outfit MUST include purple or black.  No exceptions.
  • Work
  • Leave work by 4 PM.
  • Arrive home, check on-line sites again for any critical pre-game news (injuries, line changes, etc.).
  • Pre-game 30 minute power nap.
  • Dress and perfect purple eye make-up.  Make sure all appropriate game day accessories are included with outfit.  
I have lots of Kings jewelry, but this is the critical piece.                                                                                                                

  • Double check wallet for ticket.
  • Stop for pre-game Starbucks on walk to Staples Center.
  • Check Kings Care booth and LA Team store for must have apparel and collectible items.
  • Stake out good photography spot for warm-up skate.

And of course, the most important step....chant GO KINGS GO!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kings Music Monday

Sports and music are a natural fit, and many athletes have music they use to get them in "game mode."  The Kings are certainly no exception.  Alternate Captain Matt Greene, in particular, has gone on record as a Hall & Oates fan!

The Kings are continuing the tradition of combining great sport and great music via a new partnership with Pandora Internet radio.  Here are the details I received in The Royal Report, the Kings season ticket holder newsletter.

LA Kings Partner with Pandora Music
Your LA Kings recently partnered up with, Pandora, the leading personalized radio service, to launch a new "LA Kings Mix" radio station on Pandora. The Kings are the first professional sports team to use the help of Pandora and disseminate a mixtape of the team's favorite music to connect with fans. 

Kings players Ryan Smyth, Jarret Stoll, Rob Scuderi, Jack Johnson, Brad Richardson, Peter Harrold, Kevin Westgarth and Jonathan Bernier provided Pandora with a list of their favorite songs that fans can add to their Pandora station. Visit

 It's been a while since I've used Pandora, so I thought it would be fun to re-engage with the site.  It has a pretty cool look when you log on, featuring the Kings logo and defenceman Drew Doughty!

The playlist I got featured plenty of expected hard rock and up-tempo tunes.  The big surprise was Rick Springfield's "Jesse's Girl!"  Apparently one of our hard hitting Kings is a closet softy!

If you haven't tried Pandora before, don't be afraid to jump right in!  It's completely free, and registering for the service only takes an e-mail and a few minutes time.  Then you're on your way to enjoying the same music as your favorite Kings!  And you can even share the whole station or specific songs with friends in all your social networks through Pandora's built-in networking features.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hits and Misses: How Well Did The Queen Predict The Roster?

It's a few hours until puck drop in Vancouver, and before I head out to enjoy the action at the Kings official Watch Party in Burbank, I thought it would be a good time to follow up on my roster predictions.  During training camp, I offered my best guesses on which players would make the cut. 

Looking at the results, a few things are clear. 

1) I was wrong more than I was right.
2) I will never make money as a NHL scout.
3) Scott Parse getting injured during camp messed me up big time, since many of my picks were contingent upon him starting the season healthy.
4) Dean Lombardi still has the power to surprise me.
5) I'm actually happy to be wrong.

Let's start with the hits.  

I correctly predicted Davis Drewiske, Peter Harrold and Kevin Wesgarth would make the roster.  I was also right in predicting Bud Holloway, Alec Martinez, Dwight King, Justin Azevdeo and Oscar Moller would return to Manchester.

Now for the misses.

Who saw Jake Muzzin coming?  He won the open defensive spot fair and square from Thomas Hickey, in part on on the strength of his size, which has always been one of Hickey's downsides.  That said, I don't think we've seen the last of Hickey, and this story will be one to watch throughout the season.

Trevor Lewis making the team still surprises me based on his performance in camp.  He also seemed just a step off in his pre-season appearances, but perhaps he'll find his groove with more NHL play.   If not, I predict he'll be a scratch if Scott Parse gets healthy later in the season.

The Clifford-Clune battle was one of the more interesting in camp.  Clune came into the season with the best fitness testing scores and a partial season on the Kings roster last year.  Yet who dropped the gloves during the pre-season and brought the more openly physical game?  That was Clifford.  The kid clearly saw his chance to make the squad, risked some penalty minutes with his aggressiveness and earned the right to stay.  Clune was placed on waivers and remains Kings property, now playing in Manchester.

I am actually thrilled I was wrong about both Andrei Lotkionov and Brayden Schenn. 

Schenn was determined to make to big squad.  Hard work pays off!

They were both terrific in camp and more than earned their shot.   I thought they wouldn't get it because of the number of roster spots.  They are both also young and have long term NHL potential, so risking their development would not be a good option for the Kings organization.  In Schenn's case, the WHL rules meant he could not have been sent to the AHL, so putting him on the NHL roster was the best option.  I have been a Lotkionov fan since I first spotted him in camp 2 years ago, and he played in Manchester last year, so no complaints there either.

As the regular season kicks off tonight, Kings fans will know pretty quickly whether these picks are true winners.  Schenn, Clifford and Wesgarth are the fourth line tonight in Vancouver...


Friday, October 1, 2010

A Beginners Guide To Frozen Fury

So you've rolled the dice and journeyed to Las Vegas to take in the Kings annual pre-season classic in the desert - Frozen Fury XIII!

You have many reasons to be excited, and trust me when I tell you you're going to have a great time tomorrow night with your fellow Kings faithful.  But it's also normal to be just a little stressed about what to expect.  Fear not, because The Queen is here to guide you on your quest for the ultimate Frozen Fury experience.

So without further ado, here are some Frozen Fury do's and don'ts to help you prepare for your big day tomorrow.

DO Dress Appropriately
This is Las Vegas, so go big and glam, or go home.   These ladies have the right idea.  Team colors are essential, but accessories really make a Frozen Fury outfit.  Vegas is full of sparkly things, so I'm sure if you didn't pack correctly a quick shopping trip before the game tomorrow will fix you right up.

DO Participate in Pre-Game Festivities!
The guys over at KingsCast hold a little soiree every year that fits the bill perfectly, so make sure to stop by and see them!  The Queen will be making an appearance as well.  Here is a link to the party:

DO Cheer Loudly When You See These Guys
Your Kings like the MGM Grand Garden arena LOUD!  Trust me, they score more goals that way.  And when in Vegas, one should score, if you know what I mean.

DO Heckle These Gentlemen
And by heckle, I mean reduce them to tears with chants of "Go Kings Go" and "Avs Suck!"  It is the way of the Kings fan to loudly taunt the opposing team, and Las Vegas should be no different than Staples Center in this regard.

DO Celebrate Safely
There are SO MANY Kings fans (rightly so, I might add) packed into this place that accidents can happen if you're not careful.  We want fun, but dislike injuries.  So when you're riding your friends shoulders after the Kings big victory, just make sure you have a spotter or a "safe word" in case things start to get a little too intense.  Otherwise, be sure to wear your hockey helmet with your game attire.

And most importantly. don't forget the magic words....


Monday, September 27, 2010

Make My Day Mondays

Has someone ever done something for you that absolutely made your day?  I could have been a big thing or a small thing, but the feeling of gratitude it gave you was probably stronger than any thing else you felt that day.  Guess what?  It feels pretty amazing for the person doing the giving as well.  That's the concept sports agent Scott Norton is working to promote through "Make My Day Mondays."

"Make My Day Mondays" came on my radar by way of Kings Captain Dustin Brown, a Norton Sports client and tremendous doer of good things for other people.  And when my Captain gets behind something, I follow him.   Here are two of Brownie's recent do-good Tweets!

Dave Strehle over at NHL Hot Stove wrote a terrific post on Norton's new initiative, and since he's five times the writer I will ever be, I'm simply going to link you to what he wrote so you can learn more about the "Make My Day Monday" movement:

The bottom line is this -- every Monday, do something to make someone else's day a little bit better.

Here are some examples of good deeds and positive buzz for the "Make My Day Mondays" movement on Twitter just this morning:

So here's where YOU come in Kings fans.

If you're on Twitter, use the hash tag #MMDM when you post what YOU did to make someones day better.  Mention our Twitter handle (@LAKingsCourt) and we'd love to feature some of the great things our followers are doing in future blog posts!  If you don't want to start Tweeting, you can simply post your MMDM good deeds on the Kings Court Facebook Fan Page.

And I'm going to start things off.  I have two extra lower level tickets to Frozen Fury in Las Vegas.  I want to give them away to someone who wants to see the game and cheer on the Kings.  I can't pay to get you to Vegas, but I can treat you to a game.  The first person to DM me on Twitter will get them.  Good luck!


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Training Camp Casualties

So the Kings made their first round of cuts from training camp, and so far the players I chose to stick around are still in the hunt.  The only miss on my list so far is Brandon Kozun, who was assigned to Manchester.  While I didn't pick him to make the squad, I was hoping the kid would get a longer look this time around, including an appearance in Las Vegas.  But don't worry, he's far from done.  I hope he takes the criticism I've heard that he's too small to ever play at the NHL level and use it as motivation to become the league's next Martin St. Louis.

More cuts will be coming in the near future, and while the full picture is still far from clear, I didn't see anything in training camp this weekend to change my mind about who makes the squad and who will eventually go home.  I'm excited to see how it all plays out.

But training camp also created a casualty of a different kind -- a personal one.  It happened the first day of camp, and it took me a little bit of time to calm down enough that I could talk about it.  Now that I'm convinced everything is OK, I can share the story of how training camp almost killed MY PHONE!

I get a lot of comments about my iPhone for two reasons.  First, it's rarely out of my hand.  Second, it has a very cool Kings-themed skin.  One of my dearest friends (who incidentally doesn't like hockey) got it for me last Christmas, and it's probably my very favorite gift from last season.  If you'd like to "skin" your phone, laptop, or other electronic device and show your Kings loyalty, here's a link:

What you may not have noticed in the photo above is a chunk missing from my previously perfect Kings logo skin, and beneath it, a ding in the phone itself!  Let's take a closer look.

Ouch...that hurts!  So you're probably wondering how on Earth this happened if the phone never leaves my hand?  Well, let's just say I was a little excited to be seeing the boys at camp and I combined that excitement with a little too much multi-tasking.  I was sitting down on the floor next to the glass shooting photos and video.

Shooting STEADY video takes two hands, so I sat the phone down on my leg.  Then a woman came walking by and asked me to move.  A security dude (the same one that sees me sit on the floor at EVERY PRACTICE) had already come by once to say I couldn't sit there because someone (NOT a practice regular) complained, so I figured I had better oblige this woman.  As I shifted my leg, the phone slid off, hit the glass, and bounced down into this narrow space between the boards and the floor.

I sat there stupified for a minute.  My practice-watching companions, Jen and Brianna Wells, noticed from the look on my face something was wrong as I stared at the floor.  When they asked what was wrong, I blankly stared and said, "My phone."  "Where is it?" they asked.  "Down there," I pointed.  Confused looks ensued.  Then they laughed.  It's a good thing I love them.

After we all got our bearings and notified facilities, I waited.  And stewed.  And started to panic.  I knew I depended on my phone for pretty much EVERYTHING , but I honestly felt completely lost thinking about it down there.   Would I ever get it back?

Then Mike Timoney, one of our friends from the Kings Crew, came by to watch practice.  When we told him the story, he got us real the form of Kings Alumni Daryl Evans.  After briefly surveying the situation, Daryl just shook his head. "But it's a KINGS PHONE!" I pleaded.  "If it was a Kings phone, it would have already jumped back up out of that hole," Daryl replied.

Daryl did confirm the phone could be retrieved, but I had to wait until the crowd cleared out because they had to pull up one of the bleacher seating boards.  WHAT?  I can't be the first person who's done this, right?  Isn't there a door to a crawl space?  Something?  Sadly, no.

So at the next break in practice, Daryl got one of the facilities guys to come out with his fancy screwdriver, pull up the bleacher seating in one section, and climb down to save my phone.  It was moist from the ice condensation, beaten and permanently scarred, but thankfully still working.  And now every time I walk into Toyota Sports Center, Daryl looks at me and just shakes his head.

I am now convinced my phone was a hockey player in a prior life.  They get beaten up every day and still come back for more.  And every scar has an interesting story.


Hockey Humor: The Official Canadian Temperature Conversion Chart

Hockey fans are serious about their teams, maybe even a little TOO serious sometimes.  So when this came through my e-mail, I knew it was just the blog topic to lighten things up a little.  Unless you're a Leafs fan....

The Official Canadian Temperature Conversion Chart                          
50 Fahrenheit (10 C)                                                    
 Californians shiver uncontrollably.                                      
 Canadians plant gardens.                                                
35 Fahrenheit (1.6 C)                                                  
  Italian Cars won't start                                                
 Canadians drive with the windows down                                  
32 Fahrenheit (0 C)                                                      
 American water freezes                                                  
 Canadian water gets thicker.                                            
0 Fahrenheit (-17..9 C)                                                  
 New York City landlords finally turn on the heat.                      
  Canadians have the last cookout of the season.                          
-60 Fahrenheit (-51 C)                                                  
 Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.                                    
  Canadian Girl Guides sell cookies door-to-door.                        
-109.9 Fahrenheit (-78.5 C)                                              
 Carbon dioxide freezes makes dry ice.                                  
  Canadians pull down their earflaps.                                    
-173 Fahrenheit (-114 C)                                                
 Ethyl alcohol freezes.                                                  
 Canadians get frustrated when they can't thaw the keg                  
 -459.67 Fahrenheit (-273.15 C)                                          
 Absolute zero; all atomic motion stops.                                
  Canadians start saying "cold, eh?"                                      
-500 Fahrenheit (-295 C)                                                
 Hell freezes over.                                                      
 The Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Who Goes Home?

As I watched the Kings-Coyotes game at Staples Center last night, I couldn't help thinking about the rookies and prospects participating in the game.  Playing on NHL ice was the dream of every one of those guys growing up, and just as soon as they get a taste of the dream, they must also face the inevitable decisions from the club they hope to join -- because roster cuts are coming.

Like many things in life, not everyone gets their dream when they want it.  They have a shot, but there just isn't room to keep everyone.  So they work hard in camp, try to play their best and showcase their unique (or in some cases not so unique) talents, hoping to catch management's eye.  During warm-ups last night, I watched them intently.

Some looked perfectly at home, while others seemed scared, ready for the other skate to drop at any moment.  In reality, even the ones that feel confident may not get a spot.  Sometimes the club is just "going in another direction."  But like life, setbacks are temporary, and if you're completely committed to your dream, you'll do whatever it takes to make it happen one day.

With so many potential new Kings in camp, I haven't been able to watch everyone closely enough to comment on their future, so I'll just list the guys I have spent time watching and share my predictions on where they're headed.  I'll report back in a few days and we can see how I did.

Let's start with defencemen.
  • Davis Drewiske wasn't playing at the end of the season last year due to a shoulder injury, and Coach Terry Murray publicly shared that he didn't think Drewiske's level of grit and board play was the same after coming back supposedly "healthy."  Watching him in camp, I think he's back to his old pre-injury self and will earn a spot on the roster.   It's a win for our defense because he's a big body and a solid, though not exceptional puck handler.
  • Peter Harrold is probably in the strangest situation of anyone on the squad because he's been used in both defensive and offensive roles.  He's not stellar at either, and he's not the biggest body on the team, so I'm not sure where that leaves him.  Unless he's packaged as part of a trade, I suspect he stays with the club and is a healthy scratch most of the season.
  • Alec Martinez was a call up a couple of times towards the end of the season, and serviceably filled his role but didn't do anything memorable.  At 6' 1" and 208 pounds, he's not the biggest guy out there but he's physical enough.  Even so, I don't think he earns a spot out of camp and will play in Manchester.
  • Jake Muzzin is a big physical guy with an interesting back story.  He did an overage year in juniors due to injuries and has really had to fight to get to this point.  Dean Lombardi likes that kind of character, so they're giving him a long look, but ultimately a season in Manchester will tell the story of his true potential.
  • Colten Teubert will never play at the NHL level.  I know it might sound mean to pick on the guy when he has a hand injury and hasn't really even participated in camp.  But I've never been a Teubert fan, and I'm not starting now.  Expect him to play with the Ontario Reign to stay close to Los Angeles in the event they can offload him as a part of a trade package.
  • Thomas Hickey is at a crossroads in his career.  He was plagued with injuries during his first AHL season, but battled through them to make an appearance with Manchester in the Calder Cup play-offs and make a positive impression on the coaches with his contributions.  He's been working out in Los Angeles all summer, more than sufficiently handling his duties at camp and the coaches are high on him.  I'm gonna go out on a limb as say he makes the squad out of camp.  Whether he stays will depend largely on how he fits into the defensive picture when Matt Greene returns from shoulder surgery and we have an "extra" D-man.
And now for the forwards.
  • Bud Holloway had an exceptional play-off run with Manchester, but has never seemed to bring that level of game to camp, at least in a way you notice.  He's a terrific guy, but sadly I don't think he has a shot.
  • Trevor Lewis also won't be making the team.  Maybe it was nerves, but he looked a little lost during the game last night, and he's not the kind of aggressive physical presence to fill a third or fourth line role.  Back to the Monarch's kiddo.
  • Dwight King looked like Trevor Lewis last night, only slightly taller.  He'll be back in Manchester as well. 
  • Justin Azevedo will also be headed back to Manchester.   He's one of the smaller guys out there at 5' 7", and he's less skilled than other small guys like Kozun, so he doesn't fill the kind of role the Kings need up front.  
  • Brandon Kozun will stick around longer, and may even make it to Frozen Fury in Las Vegas because he's a dynamic player to watch with a good scoring touch.  Ultimately, he needs to grow a little more physically, which he can do most effectively back in juniors.  He's got plenty of time.
  • Andrei Lotkionov will also see more playing time before his eventual return to Manchester.  He shows a ton of promise, but we're loaded at center and he has too much scoring talent to get wasted on the 4th line.
  • Moller, sadly, has reached the end of the line with the Kings.  He played almost a full season 2 years ago, in the same rookie class with Drew Doughty and Wayne Simmonds.  When he didn't make the squad last year, I expected he would go back to Manchester, rule the ice as one of their top 3 scorers, and prove he deserved to be back.  It didn't happen, and in camp this past week everything about his body language and lack of jump in his step spoke volumes.  It makes me sad because I've always been a Moller admirer, but I'm pretty sure he's done.
  • Brayden Schenn will be one of the last cuts, but I predict he'll go back to juniors for another season.  Not because of lack of talent or physicality, mind you, because the kid has all the tools, and he showed it last night going hard to the net to help Dustin Brown bang in a dirty, gritty goal.  But Schenn is a long term play for the Kings -- he's a keeper, and patience will pay HUGE dividends with this kid.
  • Rich Clune will make the team.   The nickname "Clunatic" makes him a fan favorite, he's a fast skater and good but clean agitator who will drop the gloves and take on a guy a head taller than he is if that's what it takes to get the job done.
  • Kyle Clifford has a similar game to Clune, although he's also bigger and just a bit faster in my estimation.   To a great agree, Clifford's fate is probably tied to whether Kevin Westgarth makes the squad.  Westgarth is more of a "traditional" heavyweight enforcer, and if he proves his skating ability has progressed enough during the summer he will take the spot on the 4th line that could otherwise be open for Clifford.   I predict Westgarth makes the squad.
So now you have my picks to fill the Kings open roster spots.  I'd love to know what you think, so get those comments coming!