Friday, March 25, 2011

Kings vs Sharks: Captain Brown Navigates Rough Waters

When you've watched a team for a whole season, you get pretty good at knowing what to expect in certain game situations.  So as you can imagine, I was just a little nervous about the Kings match-up with the Sharks. 

I feel ya big guy. I'm a little scared too.
The Pacific Division title was at stake.  The Kings play-off hopes were (and still are) at stake.  It was a situation tailor made for a playing-under-pressure meltdown, and  I was virtually positive the Kings would buckle under the weight of it all.   They almost did, especially during that insane Patrick Marleau goal with 3.2 SECONDS left in the third that sent the game into over time.

But the Kings are one team in the league that should be glad the shoot-out exists.  Stoll is money in the shoot-out this season.  Quick makes it look easy -- most of the time.  Just not THIS time.  It took five rounds, and in the end it was current Kings Captain Dustin Brown versus former Sharks Capatin Patrick Marleau to decide it all.   OUR captain came up huge and the Kings nabbed 2 critical points with the win to hold on to 5th place in the Western Conference.  

I just hope the Kings don't end up in a tie break situation wherever they land in the standings.  These shoot-out wins could become their Achilles Heel in term of play-off position based on the new point calculation rules.  Not to mention the fact that shoot-out skills don't matter beans in the play-offs.

Notes and observations:
  • I can't say enough about Dustin Brown.  He played an incredible game, scored 2 goals in regulation, got the shoot-out winner and earned a well deserved #1 Star of the Night.   So many Kings fans, including my seat buddy, think there are better choices for Captain of this team.  They all have the same reasons.  He's not the best player. He's not vocal enough.  He's not a leader.  I've always said the same things in response. Unless you're in the locker room, you don't know if he's a leader.  You don't know if he's vocal.   And a real leader doesn't have to be your best player every night.   He just needs to be your best player when it matters. Captain Brown was clutch for us last night.  He was hands down the best player on the ice, exactly when it mattered.  That's why he wears the "C."
  • Oscar Moller more than held his own as a replacement for Justin Williams.  He did some nice work driving to the net in the first period, got an assist and got up when he inevitably got knocked down.   The kid was scrappy and fast, just the way we like him.
  • Oscar was also the subject of my first "Stalk a Player" photo session.  I've been getting bored shooting warm-ups, so I asked the Kings Court followers which player they wanted to see and I focused all my attention in one place.  I had fun doing it, so "Stalk a Player" will stay as a regular feature here at Kings Court.  Thanks to Oscar for being such an entertaining subject. This is my favorite shot of the bunch.

  •  If you're a regular Kings Court reader, you know my section is frequently invaded by obnoxious opposing team fans.  We've had some real winners in 119 this season, but this one took the cake.  She's was a screamer, and I'm still suffering a bit of tinnitus from being near her.  I'm pretty sure they heard her screaming in San Jose.  Or maybe she was just trying to be loud enough to connect with the other screamer sitting with the KingsCast boys.

  • On a more positive note, Kings Care and the ASPCA teamed up to raise money for the animals by auctioning dog bowls decorated by some of your favorite Kings (or their ladies).  It was no surprise that Kyle Clifford's Big Red Dog bowl earned the highest bids. 

  • Speaking of dogs, I have to give a shout out to loyal Kings fan and animal lover Gabby Vyskocil. She's had a rough time dealing with the loss of a member of her furry family and has sat out a couple of games.   If you see her back at Staples, give her a hug.  Sometimes we can all use one.

The Kings next challenge is a classic "trap" game against the Colorado Avalanche, who are already out of play-off contention.  It should be a simple 2 points -- but it is a Saturday afternoon 1 PM start.  Stranger things have happened.  So be there and be loud.   You know how we do it....


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