Monday, January 3, 2011

Kings-Blackhawks: Not Ready For Our Close-Up

After a lethargic start to the New Year against the division rival San Jose Sharks, the Los Angeles Kings had serious incentive to jump start them tonight -- a rare nationally televised match-up against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.  

The best teams find energy for big moments like this.  Right at the moment, the chance for the struggling Kings to stop their current losing skid in a very public way and prove they have what it takes to go the distance over a whole season is a pretty big moment.

Remember to keep your feet moving tonight...people are watching!

So of course we squandered a golden opportunity.

Things actually started off really well.  The Kings brought great intensity in the first period, quickly out shooting the Blackhawks and drawing first blood on a gorgeous Jack Johnson shot, tipped in by Michal Handzus for a power play goal.  Then Blackhawks sniper Marion Hossa tied the score late in the first.  The fact that Hossa's goal was yet another blow to the Kings previously unstoppable home ice penalty kill was a sign of things to come.

The energy started to drop in the second, with the Kings allowing the Hawks a second power play goal, this time to Patrick Sharp.   Ryan Smyth brought us back to life when he took a nice pass from Justin Williams and buried it to even the score at 2-2 with a little more than a minute left in the period.

The Hawks scored 5 minutes into the third (that sneaky Patrick Sharp again....) and the momentum dropped off even more.   Yet the Kings still showed signs of life on 3 power plays in a row, including one with 23 seconds of 5-on-3 action.   It took the third power play, but the puck finally found Ryan Smyth, who scored his second goal of the night to tie the game 3-3.

Don't know what Toews was explaining to Hossa, but it sure helped the Hawks kill some penalty minutes.

Everything on the score sheet indicated we were still in the game, but looking at the play on the ice it was clear the Kings were struggling to close the deal.  Then we got Toews'd with 5:27 left and never made it back, mentally or physically.

Final score: 4-3 Hawks.

Watching the Kings come out swinging and fade halfway through a game is getting REALLY old.   Perhaps what this team needs most is a case of 5-Hour Energy drinks before every game.  Heck, if it helps, I'll spring for a round of Starbucks.

In spite of the disappointment of losing and likely dropping further in the standings, there were a few entertaining activities off the ice.
  • Marty Turco MUST have a rider in his contract excluding him from playing in Staples Center.   Apparently he enjoys being heckled by The Mayor because he smirked at every insult...and there were many.

  • A message to the bandwagon Blackhawks chick in the Toews jersey blocking my view -- "Don't hassle with the Hossa!" is officially the dumbest slogan ever.  Putting it on a sign only made it dumber.
  • How fun is it to be Stan Lee right now?  Whether you like The Guardian Project or not, he gets to go to games around the league and ride Zambonis.  It's almost a better gig than creating comic book characters.

Our worn out Kings finally get a rest, as Coach Murray already announced he's giving them the day off tomorrow.   Hopefully the boys can get their legs back under them and end this losing streak before the start of the year turns into the end of our season.


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