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.