Friday, January 7, 2011

Kings vs Predators: Its' All In Our Heads

After watching the Kings slog through 5 games in 7 nights, it was nice to see them looking refreshed and happy during the warm-up skate Thursday night.  

I felt cautiously optimistic we might end this losing streak at 4 and get the ship righted.  The recent slump wasn't a slump at all, just a bunch of over-worked, over-tired players.

I really hate when I'm wrong.

This same old story of 30 minutes of good to decent hockey, followed by mental meltdowns, blown leads and lost point opportunities is beyond tiresome.  Any human that can understand body language saw EXACTLY what happened to this team when Nashville scored the tying goal in the second period.   The shoulder slumps and heads down when the Predators scored the 3-2 go-ahead goal less than 2 minutes later sealed the deal.  We were done after 40 minutes and the entire team knew it.

I'm also sick of players giving the same lame quotes after every loss:

"We need to work harder."
"We need to battle more."
"It's just a matter of bringing more focus to the little things."

Well guess what, boys,  The fans are tired of it.  Lame excuses aren't good enough any more.  That's the reason the fans booed you at the end of the game.  Maybe you should hear some other things fans are saying as well.  During an impromptu bitch session outside Starbucks after the game, here are the things some of my hockey buddies and I were tossing around -- and interestingly enough, we all agreed.
  • There are 4 players that have kept up their end of the bargain this year at their respective positions: Kopitar,  Clifford, Scuderi, and Quick.  Everyone else needs to look hard at themselves in the mirror and figure out how to be better.
That means you too, Greener.  And the answers aren't down there....
  • Wayne Simmonds is not the player he was last year.  Nice to see you can break someone's nose, Simmer, but goals win games.  Skate better, handle the puck better, and go get some.
  •  Moving players away from their natural side of the ice isn't working.  They'll tell the coach they're willing to do it because they want to play, but they're not helping the team having to re-learn their position.
  • Doughty and Johnson together is too much ego for one blue line.  One of them needs to go, and Doughty isn't the biggest ego in that pairing.  Just sayin'....
  • We need a new power play coach.  With the fire power we have, there just isn't a reason we can't score with a man (or more) advantage.  Sometimes a fresh set of eyes is all it takes.
If there is a team poster boy that holds the key to our redemption, it's....KYLE CLIFFORD.  You heard me, Kyle Clifford.  Because you know what I see when Clifford plays?  I see Drew Doughty two seasons ago.  I see Kopitar as a 19 year-old rookie.  Those guys had no expectations, no pressure, and they just went out and played hockey.  Just flat-out PLAYED!  Why?  Because there were no voices in their heads making them doubt what they could do.

Looking at this team Thursday night, I saw a bunch of guys filled with doubt and fear.  Fear of losing.  Fear of actually succeeding because of the pressure that builds after the success.  Until we shake that fear and start believing in ourselves, don't look for this team to win a game, regardless of what line combinations are on the ice.

But guess what, Kings?  Even though we get frustrated and boo, YOUR FANS STILL BELIEVE IN YOU!

The question is whether you believe in US enough to win.


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