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.'


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