Sunday, March 27, 2011

5 Solutions To Fix A Kopitar-less Kingdom

Like many Kings fans, I've spent the better portion of the day reliving the awful loss of this guy to an ankle fracture yesterday.


Here's the thing Kings fans.  We have to accept Kopitar may be gone for whatever remains of our season, including the play-offs.  Yet as many of you have pointed out, a team is about more than one player, and we have talent.  We can do this!  It just calls for a little creativity.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I spent the day thinking of some slightly out-of-box solutions to our dilemma, and we have options.

Here are 5 solutions to fix our roster and keep us on the winning track.

1) We all know Jonathan Quick can perform Jedi mind tricks stopping the puck, but he's been hiding the fact that he can also do tricks SCORING with the puck.  I've checked the NHL rule book and Jedi mind tricks are legal, so get ready for some Quick goals!

And you thought the ears were just for decoration, right?

2) Drew Doughty moves to forward.  Dustin Byfuglien did it and won a Stanley Cup.  We all know Drew is better than Big Buff.  On a line with Wayne Simmonds, this pairing will fully leverage all those NHL-11 gaming skills they practice at home.  They'll be unstoppable. 

Totally in the zone....

3) With Doughty's departure, Kevin Westgarth moves to defence.  If he'll willingly throw his face in front of a punch, he can throw it in front of a puck.   Having an additional shut-down D-man gives the new pairing of Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell more room to drop bombs from the blue line on the power play.  Mitchell has certainly been lighting up the scoreboard lately, so let's use that to our advantage.

You knew I stopped pucks, but you didn't know I could score, did ya?  And I can do it with one eye closed....

4) Peter Harrold fills Westgarth's old spot on the fourth line, including his enforcer responsibilities.  Petey has proved he can be a go-to utility guy in almost every situation during the past couple of seasons, so this shouldn't be any different.  And if he has trouble with the enforcing part, Kyle "The Big Red Dog" Clifford will be there to bail him out anyway.

Cliffy, ya better get out there.

5) If all else fails, let's pull this guy out of retirement.  I hear he's pretty good.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Kings vs Avs: A Big Win But Even Bigger Loss

Hockey, like life, has a way of putting things in perspective.  You obsess over little things that don't matter that much, only to get smacked upside the head with something awful that leaves you reeling, wondering if anything will ever be the same.

Coming into this afternoon's Kings-Avalanche match-up, I was worried about the Kings getting caught in a trap game.  I was worried about a 2 point win.  So when we started the first period with a couple of goals, I settled in for an easy ride to the finish, confident the Kings had steered away from potential disaster. 

I wasn't prepared for the sound of 18,000 plus fans becoming suddenly silent in the middle of the second period. 

I didn't see the play happen.  It was at the far end of the arena from where I was sitting, on the same side as my section but hidden by glass and people blocking my view.  I glanced up at the Jumbotron to look for a replay and saw nothing.  No music played.  None of the players moved.

Then I got a text from a friend watching at home that simply said "Oh no. Please be OK."  I still couldn't see, so I asked who, and as I waited for a response, hushed words rippled through the crowd. "Oh my God, Kopitar is down."

Anze Kopitar was playing in his franchise record 330th consecutive game when he caught his skate in a rut during play along the boards.  He fell backward awkwardly, the skate stayed put and the portion of his leg above the ankle went the opposite direction.  In a matter of seconds, his season was ended by a broken ankle.   In those same seconds, the Kings lost the best player on their team.  They lost little bit of heart in that moment too.  The 4-1 regulation win we so badly needed was little consolation.

What this awful and unexpected development means for the Kings play-off chances is any one's guess at this point.  Lines will get shuffled.  Perhaps a call-up from Manchester's already depleted roster.   Maybe this just means healthy scratches like Brad Richardson and Kevin Westgarth will have to find an extra gear they haven't shown so far this season.  Everyone on the roster will be digging deep this time.   There are no easy answers, no quick fixes.  What we lost today is irreplaceable.

During my walk home from the game, it all seemed liked a bad dream.  Then I started to think maybe the Kings suffer from a Gretzky curse similar to the "Curse of the Bambino" but in reverse.   Do the Hockey Gods hate the Kings?

In an attempt to make myself feel better, I looked online for a parable or motivational story of some kind that would sum up the challenge in front of the Kings as they work to recover from this unexpected loss.  Amazing the things you can find on the Internet.  This one seems to sum up the situation perfectly.

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally he decided the animal was old, that the well needed to be covered anyway and that it just wasn't worth retrieving the donkey. So he invited all his neighbours to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement, he quietened down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer's neighbours continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!   
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up.

On to happier things....
  • Ryan Smyth finally got his scoring touch back and also got the #1 Star of the Night against his former team.   That had to feel pretty good.
  • Today was unofficially dubbed "Burger King Jersey Day" by those that chose to celebrate.  I was not one of them, but whatever floats your boat, folks.  Most of you have been Kings fans longer than me, so feel free to make up your own Kings-related celebrations.  Had I been a Kings fan back in those days, I probably would have bought one of those jerseys anyway, because I'm that much of a homer.

  •  Did anyone notice our military hero of the night had a nameplate on his uniform that said "Cupcake" where the last name normally goes?

  •  Just when I thought Bailey had brought every genius prop available to taunt visiting goalies, he upped the ante -- a SIEVE.  That is just pure mascot genius.

The Kings have a day off tomorrow to shake off the proverbial dirt and start climbing out of their own well.  Their next stop is Edmonton on Tuesday.  It's going to be a tough road ahead, but if a donkey is smart enough to escape, maybe we can beat the odds too.


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....


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kings vs Flames: The Hockey Gods Giveth AND They Taketh Away

I'm not a particularly religious person, but I believe in God.  God loves hockey.  He also loves torturing Kings fans.   It's the only possible explanation for the conclusion of last night's Kings - Flames contest.

The Kings came into the game looking to break a 4 game home losing streak.  We were holding on to 6th place in the West, but hampered by anemic scoring and a still-powerless power play.  In our favor was the fact that the last meeting between the teams featured a huge Kings win at the Saddledome in Calgary for the first time since before the lock-out.

The Flames were only 2 points behind the Kings in the Western Conference as of last night.   They have struggled mightily this season and most people (including myself) had written them out of the play-off picture in February. Yet somehow they managed to claw their way back into contention.   They had also lost the night before in Anaheim.  For most of the season, teams who have lost in Anaheim before playing the Kings normally come into Staples Center angry and looking for payback.

 So we had two teams in desperate need of points and willing to do just about anything to get them.

Did we REALLY need to be reminded how close the Conference race is?

The formula the Kings needed for success was simple -- score goals. Score lot of goals.  Yeah....that didn't happen.

Thanks for the stick tap buddy, but maybe you could give me some goal support instead?
So what did happen?
  • It was a tough, physical, play-off style, old school crash and bang game.
  • Drew Doughty played his most physical hockey of the season in the first period.  Jack Johnson....had some trouble with the puck.
  • The second period started with a penalty kill featuring Matt Greene breaking his stick and getting stuck without a change for almost half the PK (Hockey God takes).  Thankfully our friend Mr. Crossbar stopped a couple of shots during the same period (Hockey God gives).
At least when when you're not holding a stick your hands are free to shove some dudes.
  • The last 2 minutes of the second was some of then most frustrating hockey I've ever experienced. Two back to back power plays and not one goal between them.
  • With just under 10 minutes left, disaster struck when Justin Williams got checked into the boards and skated off the ice with difficult, holding his arm.  After a visit with the doctor today, the verdict is a dislocated shoulder and 3-4 weeks rehab.  That means missing the rest of the season, and possibly the play-offs.
I told Bobby Scribe you were due for an injury.  Is Hockey God punishing me?
  •  Things looked up when the Kings finally scored in the 3rd.  Of course, then they did their usual mental meltdown and gave up a goal about a minute later.
  • When the regulation part of the game ended tied 1-1,  I posted this status to Facebook and Twitter.
    "Once again we give away a point to a conference opponent and we're off to OT. Hockey Gods, please help us."
  • Hockey God responded with a team lobotomy and a penalty for too many men on the ice for the last 2 minutes of overtime!  NOT WHAT I HAD IN MIND!
  • But Hockey God was ultimately kind, got us through overtime and to a shoot out.  Jonathan Quick was the Goalie Jesus and saved our butts once again, with some goal scoring help from two Saints named Stoll and Kopitar.
WOOHOO!  Time for some locker room jams, homies!

Now for the fun stuff....
  • HUGE props to Kings Captain Dustin Brown for donating $9425 to Red Cross Japan Earthquake relief. That's one dollar for every new Twitter follower he gained since he started the campaign.
PLEASE give my Captain the NHL Foundation Award!
  • It was weird to see former Kings Freddie Modin and Raitas Ivanans on the healthy scratch and injured reserve lists respectively.  Poor Raitas.  He's played ONE game THE WHOLE SEASON.
  • I love playing Canadian teams. You're always guaranteed to see people dressed like this on a day Los Angelenos are wearing coats and scarves.
Aren't your toes just a LITTLE cold? 
  • Judging by the lack of Canadian national anthem singers I could hear in the crowd, the Flames didn't bring many fans.   At least not patriotic ones like the Canucks.
  • Red is a great Afro color, but our Afros are better than your Afros, Flames fans.

  • How ironic is it that there was an Oscar Moller stick on the Kings Care auction last night, and now he's being recalled due to the Justin Williams injury?
  • Someone let Rental Man back in the building!  If you hate this guy as much as I do, join the Facebook "I Hate Rental Man" support group by clicking here.

So now the Kings face their toughest test of the week as they take on the visiting San Jose Sharks on Thursday.  San Jose is currently riding a 3 game win streak and leading the Pacific Division, so we have our work cut out for us.  But with or without Justin Williams, we can do this! So say it with me....


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kings vs Ducks: Going Mental

Players and coaches alike talk about the demands of an 82 game hockey season, and that the difference between winning and losing this time of the year is often between the ears.  This is the point in the season where bodies start to ache.  Time starts running out.  Pressure builds.  Doubt and fear can set in.

It's the same way for fans.  When you've seen your team through the highs and lows of a long season, patterns emerge.  You sit there watching a game unfold and remember the last time it looked like what you're seeing on the ice at the moment.   You start to see the outcome before the game is even over, because you've seen it over and over already.  Your heart lifts with a tying goal, and then the fear sets in because you see how much time is left.  Earlier in the season, you would have optimistically said "Plenty of hockey left!"  Now you're looking at the same clock, saying "God I hope we find another goal soon."

When your hopes are finally dashed by a villan, you're spent.  You want to be violently angry, but instead you just feel tired and defeated.  You just watched another opportunity get squandered.   At the beginning of the season, it would have been "We'll get these guys next time."  Now you're thinking, "Am I watching us play ourselves out of the play-off and letting THESE jokers in?"


This is the part of the season where the only thing that keeps a team winning -- and fans cheering-- is to stay focused and dig deep.  This is the part where faith comes in.  The choice to believe isn't a logical one, it's an emotional one.  We know in our hearts this team can win.  We ALL just need to believe.

Next up...the Calgary Flames.  Monday.  Staples Center.  Be there with your heart on your sleeve.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Do You Cheer Or Just Boo?

I'm fascinated by the debate raging over Kings fans booing the team after their horrible performance Thursday night.  Fascinated because this is far from the first time it's happened.  In fact, the first bad booing I remember was the Kings home opener in 2009.  They stunk up the joint big time that night as well, yet ended the season by making the Stanley Cup play-offs for the the first time in eight long years.  So maybe booing isn't always a bad thing.

I suppose the reason the booing became such a big deal this time is because of Terry Murray's reaction.  He's since softened his comments, and even taken some blame on his shoulders for not properly preparing the team.  I've read comments on Rich Hammond's posts where people even suggested Murray got a talking to from the Kings brass for not keeping his mouth shut, especially given the season ticket price increases we fans are all enjoying.

Empty seats are not good for the health of ANY franchise.
Message boards, Facebook groups, mainstream media and the blogosphere have all weighed in on whether fans have the "right" to boo or not.  America is the land of the First Amendment and free speech, so of course you have the right to express yourself, which includes booing.  It's also the right of other fans to openly disagree with you.  That's the awesome thing about free speech.   But in the flurry of arguments about frustration over ticket prices, fan expectations, players feelings and anything else that could factor into whether booing is acceptable or not, the REAL issue isn't being brought up.  And the REAL issue is your personal responsibility as a fan

For me, if you're going to exercise your right to say things about your team, you have to be shouting during the good times AND the bad.  So for everyone who booed Thursday night, I have a question for you.  When the Kings perform well, are you also screaming until your throat hurts?   Or are you only raising your voice when there is cause to complain?  Because if you're not doing both, I encourage you to SHUT YOUR MOUTH.

I suspect many of the complainers that booed Thursday were also the people that remained quiet as Vancouver Canucks fans took the energy out of our barn on March 5th.   That's the way it is with fans in Los Angeles, and not just Kings fans.   For the life of me, I don't know what it is about this city that breeds a sense of entitlement among our fair-weather fans, who react as if the team doesn't "deserve" their support if it doesn't win every game.   Of course, this is also the same fan base that will loudly cheer "Team XXX SUCKS!" any chance they get.  After all, nothing says class like putting down someone else.

I know there are plenty of Kings fans out there that don't fit that mold.  If you're one of those, it's your job to set the fair-weather fans right.  We're in the middle of an identity crisis, Kings fans.  I for one don't believe this booing, negative garbage is who we are.  We're better than this.  We should strive to win with grace and humility, and be good sports when things don't go our way.  That's what winners do.  That's what true fans should do, too.


Sports is like life, folks.  Things aren't always rosy, and if you throw out the baby with the bathwater every time things don't go your way, you're not the kind of fan I want supporting my team.   We have so much to be proud of in our Kings, and they have more than earned our support -- even and especially when they have a tough night.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kings vs Blues: Beaten With a Shillelagh

According to Wikipedia, a shillelagh is a stick Irishmen once used to fight.  Right at the moment, I'm inclined to believe all the members of the St. Louis Blues ARE Irishmen and they thought their hockey sticks were actually shillelaghs, because they beat the Kings senseless tonight.

The puck is back there, Quicker....

On the walk home from the game, I was thinking of possible explanations for the Kings performance tonight:
  • Leprechauns snuck into the equipment room before the game and cursed all our sticks.
  • O'Johnson, O'Doughty, O'Kopitar and O'Simmonds decided to rebel against getting their names changed and played like crap.
  • Drew spotted The Queen in an O'Doughty shirt, got confused and figured she left him for another guy.
  • The Gatorade bottles were actually filled with green beer.
  • The boys were confused by the new uniforms, thought they were the Philadelphia Eagles and forgot they were playing hockey, not football.

So Simmer, you're going out about 30 yards and I'll hit you with the

Here are the more likely answers:
  • St. Louis played a faster, more physical game than we came prepared for.
  • We had no puck possession, and couldn't connect a tape to tape pass if our lives depended on it.
  • We spent 75% of the game in our own zone.
  • We couldn't put shots on net.  Lack of puck possession will allow that to happen.
So...we're off to a SLOW start...

You've gotta be kidding me!

  • To a man, no one showed up to play.  Except maybe Jon Quick, and the team repaid him by playing with as many holes as Swiss cheese.
So the Kings got shelled, the fans booed at the end of the 2nd AND 3rd period, and my seat buddy was so disgusted she left before the end of the game to beat traffic.  Actually, a lot of people left.  By the end of this debacle the arena was only about one third full.    What a huge disappointment that our team played so well on the road, only to leave their hometown fans disappointed with their near total lack of effort this evening.

There were a couple of bright spots to the evening.

The green jerseys the Kings wore during warm-ups are being signed and auctioned to raise money for The Kings Care Foundation and Japan Earthquake Relief.  The Handuzs, Drewiske, Harrold, Richardson and Simmonds jerseys were done at the game tonight.  But if you're interested in another player besides those 5, you can place bids on the NHL website until March 25th.  Here's the link:

Even Bailey's jersey is being auctioned!

The Kings "Heroes of the Game" were the Los Angeles Police Department Medal of Honor winners.  Give them your love, because they keep us safe.

And finally, please send all your healing karma to two members of the Los Angeles Kings family.  Jon Moncrief, who covers the Kings for The Examiner, and Michael Zampelli (aka Rink Rat) who runs the Let's Go Kings fan site and is also a professional photographer who covers the Kings, have both been in the hospital this week.   I am privileged to call Jon a friend, and Michael was more than patient with my photography questions the last two seasons when I sat behind his shooting spot in Section 114.  Staples Center is not the same without either of them.  Let's hope they return to action soon.

Hopefully the Kings can have short memories and shake off this loss fast, because the cross-town rival Anaheim Ducks are in town Saturday night in the first of 3 meetings between now and the end of the season with HUGE play-off implications for both squads.  Saturday is also the Kings final Heritage Night this season, this time honoring Bob Pulford.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Kings vs Stars: Shooting Ourselves In The Foot

If one thing is consistent about the Kings, it's that nothing comes easy for us.  Either that or we make things hard on ourselves.   Right at the moment I'm more inclined to believe the latter, and I really hope I get proven wrong.  The sooner, the better.

Why boys?  Why do you do this to us?

We started the night 1 point behind the 7th place Stars in the Western Conference standings. You don't have to be a math major to figure out the play-off implications there. 

Rumors flew prior to the trade deadline about the possibility of Stars Captain Brad Richards becoming a King, which of course didn't happen.  Now he has a concussion and wasn't even in the Stars line-up, so maybe we dodged a bullet.   I personally had designs on former Stars left winger James Neal, who ended up in a Penguins uniform.

The sad part is that even without those two big names in their line-up. the Stars shone brighter than the Kings in this contest.   Even though the Kings scored first AND held a lead going into the third period, we came out flat in the last 20 minutes, gave up a short-handed goal and put the momentum squarely in the Stars favor.  It took less then a minute for them to finish us in over time.

Why can't we put this many pucks on net DURING a game?
We're still in 8th place, but we're running out of chances.

The Queen's quick hits:
  • I had a blast during warm-ups dissecting all the Kings problems with Bobby Scribe.   We don't always agree, but I love a good hockey debate and he's always prepared.   He also mentioned he and Surly are looking for someone to be the "&" jersey in their line-up.  If you're interested, drop him a line!  And if you're not already checking out his blog on a regular basis, you're losing out.  Don't make me smack you silly.
  • Drew Doughty had a terrible giveaway early in the third.  Did it cost us the game?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Bottom line - it's a mistake.  He's human.  Moving right along....
You looking at me?
  • Matt Greene has become a penalty magnet the last few games. Our PK is still performing well, but let's not push it, Greener.
At least you took another guy to the box with you this time...
  • Justin Williams' goal was a study in tenacity.   He fought for TWO rebounds off his initial shot before he buried it, and he never gave up.  Good things happen when you shoot AND follow up.
"Get to the net. Get to the net. Get to the net..."
  • I will never get tired of Kyle Clifford's goal face.  It's like watching a five year old kid score his first goal every time he gets one.  So cute!

Of course the "Thousand Yard Stare" is a great look too.
  • And last but not least, my seat buddy and I got to try out a new spot last night.  We got a great view of the Kings bench AND 5 seconds of fame in the process.

So now the Kings get a break from Staples Center and hit the road for important four games - Detroit, Columbus, Dallas, and Nashville.   Not to be overly dramatic, but this could be the turning point in our season, folks.   Time to put up or shut up.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Kings vs Canucks: The War Continues

The last time the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks met, the hockey season looked a lot different than it did today.  It was the first game of the season, in Vancouver.  Our boys were starting off on a high note, full of promise and potential after a solid training camp and positive additions to the roster during the summer.  There was left over bitterness against the Canucks, who ousted the Kings from their first play-off appearance in eight long years.  Combine all those factors, and the first meeting was a battle royale eventually decided in a shoot-out resulting in a 2-1 Kings win.

Some Kings bore the battle scars longer than others.

Remember how ugly this was?
After that initial meeting, the Kings and Canucks went their separate ways until today - 141 days later.    While the Kings have had ups and downs the entire season, the Canucks have torn up the Western Conference and hold the best record in the NHL.   But no matter where they sit in the standings, when these two teams meet it's a play-off atmosphere.  It's always a war, and today was no different.

Things were chippy from the opening face-off, with the end of every play resulting in a scrum.   Then the Kings drew first blood as Dustin Penner logged his first goal as a King only 5:28 into the first period.  Four minutes later the Canucks answered back with their own goal, and the period ended tied 1-1.

Someone drew blood on Smytty too!  The Queen is NOT amused!

The second period was more calm than the first, almost as if both teams knew this would be a bitter fight to the end and some energy should be conserved.   With no additional score, the warriors headed into the third -- and then all hell broke loose. 

The Canucks scored the go-ahead goal on a controversial play that involved cross-checking to Drew Doughty and possible goaltender interference on Jonathan Quick.  Neither penalty was called and the goal was not subject to review.  The Kings anger got the best of them, and an ugly exchange between Keith Ballard, Alex Burrows and Drew Doughty resulted in some of the worst officiating of the night as Doughty was called for diving after being struck in the face and falling to the ice.  The kid lost it. The team lost it.  The empty net goal that sealed the Kings fate added insult to injury.  So did the additional 10 minute misconduct Doughty received after the game was over.

He looked calm during warm-ups, but he opened a serious can of whoop-ass on the zebras...

Final score: 3-1 Canucks.

There is no denying the officials did a terrible job in this game.  I've never seen so many guys thrown out of face-off circles in my life.  Yes, Drew Doughty needs to watch his mouth, but these refs did not deserve respect.  They deserved the tongue lashing he gave them.  When Coach Terry Murray gives a pissed off interview, you know things were badly managed.  That said, the Kings need to learn how to control their emotions.  These kind of games happen every night in the play-offs, and to win a team has to overcome the adversity and not let it rule them.   

The Kings power play has also been their Achilles Heel all season, and tonight was no different.    It's gotten to the point where the fans don't even get excited about a 5 on 3 opportunity because this team NEVER converts on them.  To win the war, the Kings have to find a way to win those battles within the game.  Getting rid of Jamie Kompon and finding someone to craft a fresh power play strategy will not happen this season, but it needs to be a priority this summer.  In the meantime, we have to find a way to battle through it.  Shooting the puck would be a great start.

The great thing about the Kings is they are WARRIORS.  Today's battle was lost, but the war is far from over.   Wounds will heal, and the Kings will live to fight another day.  Count on it.

Warrior.  Enough said.

Now on to happier topics:
  • I like Canadians, but they're kind of odd creatures sometimes.  And there were far too many of them at Staples Center today.  Thanks for visiting and spending your money boosting our economy, but please leave now.
These folks have the right idea bowing to The Great One...

...although I'm not sure the shorts and hockey jerseys are helping you blend in.  Especially you with the boots....
  • Happy Birthday to Bailey, by far the BEST mascot in the entire NHL!  Although looking at some of his competition, it's not exactly tough to be the best.
And there's no way Fin could be the best mascot in the NHL...WAY too violent.
  • Last but not least, the BEST part of my entire day was seeing Andrei Loktionov and his surgically repaired shoulder taking in the game.  I just want to take him home and mother him until he's all better.
Hello, My Little Russian!  The Queen loves you.

Now it's time to forget this day happened and prepare for the Kings next opponent.  The Dallas Stars are headed to town Monday, and if the Kings goal is to win the Pacific Division title, they're one of the teams in the way.