Saturday, January 8, 2011

Kings vs Blue Jackets: Still A Long Way To Go

When you're in a slump, one way to get yourself out of it, at least mentally, is to change your routine. Michal Handzus shaved his beard. Jarrett Stoll was showing off a new scar from getting hit between the eyes with a puck. Ponikarovsky and Mitchell got tired of their gym sessions and made it back into the line-up.  And Dustin Brown attempted some Doughty-style turns during warm-ups.

Since my Kings were making an effort to right the ship, the least I could do was help. I ditched my customary black turtleneck. I left my "lucky" Drew letter bracelet a home. And I didn't take my usual warm-up skate photos, instead electing to stare intently at each player as they skated past, hoping to burn some good karma into their brains.

And whether it was the karma stare, the changes in routines, or just good puck luck, the Kings finally got a win.

The Kings dominated the first period, scoring 3 goals without one response from the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets.  For a while during the second, it looked like we going to stay in charge for the duration.  When Columbus netted one, we didn't panic, stuck with the game plan, and ended 40 minutes of better than solid hockey with a 4-1 lead.

Then the third period happened.  Columbus' star Rick Nash finally found his game and hit us for 2 goals.  Our defensive game broke down, Quick made some puck handling mistakes and suddenly Columbus was within one goal.  Thankfully, we found our 5th gear, and Justin Williams finished the night with an empty netter to leave the final tally at 6-4.    The Kings faithful breathed a huge sigh of relief.

So we ended our losing streak at 5 games and got a critical win, but we're not out of the woods yet, Kings fans.  Forty minutes of great hockey is an improvement over thirty, but we need sixty minutes to be a contender.    As good as it was having Poni and Willie back in the line-up, we saw tonight that they are not the answer to all the Kings problems.   Letting teams back into the game like we did will earn us nothing but another first round exit from the play-offs, and that's if we manage to make it there.

The journey is still long, but tonight was a step in the right direction.  Now we need to take another one against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.


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