Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kings 5, Wild 2: Scoring by Committee is Possible!

Hey, Minnesota, thanks for bringing your crappy weather to LA.  I had to put on a jacket today and that does not make me happy.

I was a little concerned today about which Kings team would show up tonight.  After awhile I finally decided that I would be happy with any outcome as long as the Kings didn't take more than 2 penalties.  Lately their lapse in discipline has been killing them since the Kings penalty kill is nowhere near as good as it was last year at this point in the season.  Last season I sorta didn't mind too much that the Kings couldn't score on the power play because at least they weren't allowing many goals against during the penalty kill.  The opposite is true this season.; the power play is finally clicking, but the penalty kill is not very awesome, which sucks since they've been taking so many damn penalties!

(Getty Images/Jeff Gross)
Best NHL Movember moustache? Indeed.

Here are three highs and three lows that I took away from the game.    Let's start with the negatives since I like ending on a positive note.

The Not-So-Low Lows:
  1. The Kings did take more than 2 penalties, but at least they didn't run into penalty trouble until after they had established a wide lead.  Furthermore, I fully support penalties when you're standing up for your teammates for a dirty play.  On the replay of the Brad Staubitz checking Anze Kopitar, you could see that Staubitz swung his arm around after the check to try and hit Kopi in the face.  Uncool, dude.  So fucking uncool.  I was very happy to see Simon Gagne hurl himself onto Staubitz to stand up for Anze.  That was pretty sweet (and I mean sweet both as in awesome and adorable).
  2. The Kings almost went scoreless through 3 consecutive power plays totaling 9 minutes.  But, with less than a minute remaining on the 5 minute major power play, Martinez fought off a Wild player to somehow get #stickonpuck to get the Kings a much needed power play goal.  This goal put the Kings up 2-0 and I wonder how different the game would have played out if the Wild had killed off that 5 minute major penalty.
  3. The Kings kinda got lackadaisical in the third period.  The Kings need to channel the 2009 New Orleans Saints and learn to "Finish Strong".
It's always a relief anytime both Dany Heatley and Devon Setoguchi are invisible.  Let's be honest: the Wild looked like shit.  I don't believe for a second they are as bad of a team as they looked tonight.  I'm just glad the Kings were on top of their game.  There were many strong points in this game; here are three highs that stuck out to me:
  1. Kings finally got "scoring by committee".  I mean c'mon, Colin Fraser scored!  Matt Greene scored! Anytime a 4th liner scores or a defenseman not named Drew Doughty or Jack Johnson scores will be a good game.  It got to the point that the crowd at Staples Center sounded like they expected any decent shot by any Kings player to go in. 
  2. Minnesota didn't get a power play until 19:20 of the second period.  This was the Simon Gagne penalty that I described above and I think it's fine that he took the penalty even though the Wild eventually scored on that power play in the 3rd period.  The next Wild power play wasn't until 4:22 of the third period.  The Kings were disciplined, but still played aggressively and with lots of energy and intensity, especially early in the game.  I'm sure Jonathan Quick was relieved he didn't have to stand on his head through half the first period.
  3. Not only did the Kings get scoring from unlikely sources, but they scored early!  None of this "cram amazing hockey into the last 15 minutes of the game" crap.  They started strong, built up a nice lead, and then held on to finish off the Wild.  
Feel free to add your highs and lows in the comments. Overall, a solid game by the Kings.  Well done boys!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kings 2, Canucks 3: I don't even know what that was

DOH!  Kitty says you fail.

That game sucked. The Kings had 6 power plays so they had plenty of opportunities to get back in the game well before they needed to pull the goaltender. Sorry guys, you can't squeeze 40+ minutes of hockey into less than 2 minutes of hockey.  Let's just forget this game happened and move on.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chill the F**K out Kings Fans

Seriously....chill out Kings fans.

So the LA Kings are on a losing streak. BFD. It happens. It doesn't mean the coach needs to get axed. It means the players need to get their shit together. This is not a poorly coached team. I haven't watched these games and thought for a second that the guys don't care anymore or that they're not listening to the coach or that a different coach would make a world of difference.

There have been a couple games where the Kings looked slow and out of sorts. But that shit happens. I remember playing games where for some reason it felt like my legs were made of concrete or games where nothing any of us said (coach included and he could yell at us till the sun went down) could get us out of the shitty funk we were in or games where yeah, there was a lucky or bounce or two. So yes, the Kings have had a bad game or two where the bounces didn't go their way and another couple games where they just purely looked like dog poop during this losing streak. It's understandable.  That shit happens.  Losing streaks happen.

You know what's been a problem? Taking stupid penalties. The Kings could have (should have) won the game against Pittsburgh, but they pretty much only could be competitive for two periods because they were killing penalties for almost half of the other period. And when they had the momentum and looked like they were going to finish off the Penguins, what happened? A Kings player committed another unnecessary penalty. And in the following game the Kings were very competitive in the first period against the San Jose Sharks but that momentum screeched to a halt during a rash of penalties in the second period and then shit hit the fan after that.

I was pissed after the game against the Penguins because of how terrible half the forwards played and because I felt like the Kings should have won that game. But after the game against San Jose, all I could feel was sadness. Because this team is so much better than the outcomes they're getting. I firmly believe it's just a matter of time (a couple more games at most hopefully) before things turn around. People need to stop freaking out and placing blame where it doesn't belong.

This season is only 13 games old. There's plenty of hockey left. Better to have a losing streak early in the season than later. Check out the Western Conference standings and ask yourself if you thought for a second that it would like this:

Vancouver, Detroit, Calgary, and Anaheim are all behind the Kings. Anaheim, who has Getzlaf, Perry, and Selanne, have scored 3 fewer goals than the Kings. Dallas is leading the West? GTFO. They won't be there come April. Edmonton leading the Northwest? No effing way that's gonna hold. Phoenix in the top 8? Puh-lease, bitches. You know who should fire their coach? Columbus. Because a 2-11-1 record is atrocious. A 6-5-3 record? It's middle of the road. It's fine for now while the players figure their shit out. Most of them are adults, most of them have been in the playoffs, and most of them have tasted bitter defeat and disappointment. I would be shocked if any of them would place the blame of this current losing streak on Terry Murray.  I fully expect Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, or Justin Williams to hold a players only meeting within the next week, if they haven't done so already, and sort shit out.  There are a lot of talented goal scorers on this Kings team and I think eventually things will get better. Murray has been tweaking the lines when things haven't worked out.  The priority is getting Penner on the scoresheet and he's rightly moving him around trying to find with whom he works best while giving him the best opportunity to be an offensive threat.

I don't think a coaching change at this point of the season is necessary.  When January rolls around and if the Kings are a sub-500 team....then it would be appropriate to expect Lombardi to make changes, either a coaching change or player trade.  But for now, simmer down folks.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Can the Kings Build Off the Momentum from Saturday's Game?

The LA Kings played one of their best games of the season on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins despite losing in the shootout.  Even though it wasn't the most offensively explosive game or the most disciplined game, since the Kings played against arguably one of the best teams in the league (even though the Pens are without the best player in the NHL), I'm going to chalk this up to the best showing of the season so far.

First let's talk about the negatives so I can end on a positive note.  The craziest thing about how great the game was is that it looked like only two Kings forward lines showed up to play on Saturday.  I promised myself before the season started that I wouldn't be too critical of individual players, but I have to break that promise for this post because I was down right appalled at the play of the bottom two lines, especially the third line.   For the past several weeks I've tried to look at all the positives of a certain Kings player and point out every good thing he has done in hopes that they were baby steps towards getting the monkey off his back.  But holy hell, he looked like shit on Saturday.  He looked slow.  He was making passes behind players.  And did anyone else think he just looked lost?  #17 looked even worse, but he's not being handed a boatload of criticism because no one expects him to be a 30-goal scorer. I still don't know why the Kings signed him over the off-season.  He took two completely unnecessary penalties and got fined for one of them; I was actually hoping he would have an appointment with Principal Shanahan so Terry Murray would be forced to bench him for a couple games.  This line was on the ice for Pittsburgh's tying goal in the third period and was completely outplayed during that shift.

I was a little surprised that Trevor Lewis was benched in favor of Kevin Westgarth.  Maybe Murray didn't get the memo that Matt Cooke has been a saint this season, but someone must have told him early in the game as is evident by Westgarth's ice time.  I suppose I can't be that mad at the 4th line when none of the guys played more than 10 minutes, but I can be upset that Clifford and Richardson didn't play well enough when they were on the ice to garner more shifts.

I think my anger is all out so I can move onto the positives of this game.

The Kings power play did an amazing job in the first period and they came so close to killing off all the penalties.  Someone on Twitter said the Penguins power play didn't score a goal so much as the odds finally kicked in.  (I can't remember who tweeted it...) The Kings easily could have been down 3 goals in the first period and were lucky to only be down by 1.

Mike Richards once again looked like a badass....if only he can score on a penalty shot!  The Brown-Richards-Parse line looked really good again.  But no line compared to the Gagne-Kopitar-Williams line.  That line looked phenomenal! Just check out the passing among these guys:

It looked like Murray was only using the top two lines in Saturday's game, occasionally throwing in the third line, and I was amazed at how much energy the Kings forwards had. However, the Kings have back to back games this week, first up San Jose, then Nashville, so there is no way the Kings will be able to heavily rely on only two lines and have a chance at winning both games.  I think Bernier should get another look in one of these games and, based on the lines from Sunday's practice, Penner might get another chance on the second line.

The game against the Penguins was low scoring, but it was the most exciting game the Kings have played since the home opener when they ripped the Blues a new one.  There were many moments during the third period and overtime that I could barely breathe because either the Kings or Penguins were so close to scoring.  That's the type of hockey I like to watch and even though the Kings lost, and despite the negatives I mentioned above, the top guys played really well and it blows my mind to think what this team is capable of accomplishing.  Hopefully the Kings can keep it up and get all four lines rolling.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Kings Gameday: I Can Haz Win?

When the NHL Schedule was released and I saw the Pittsburgh Penguins would be coming to LA, I made a mental note to keep tonight open in case Sidney Crosby would be concussion-free and playing in LA.  Crosby has played at Staples Center at least once, maybe twice or thrice, but for some reason I never went to those games.  I really, really want to see him play in person and I was really, really hoping he would be healthy by early November.  Sure, seeing Malkin play in person is also worth the price of admission, but to me it's just not quite the same as seeing Crosby play in person.  Go ahead and hate all you want (that's what the comments are for), but I think Crosby is a phenomenal hockey player and I would be upset with myself if I passed up every opportunity to watch him play against my Kings at Staples Center.  I'm sad he's not playing tonight and because he's still out of the lineup, I will not be going to tonight's game.  But I will be watching at home, which means I'll be able to rewind and watch all of Quick's great saves and replay every freaking time the LA Kings go off-sides.

Did anyone else notice how many times the Kings were offsides in Thursday's game against the Oilers?  And they weren't even close, they were so offsides you could see it happening as soon as they crossed the red line.  Once again the Kings were just off.  They looked lazy.   Their play was lackadaisical.  The only block of time they looked like they had some fight in them was the first half of the third period. But once Moreau took that stupid penalty, the Oilers took back the momentum and there was no hope left for the Kings. 

Dustin Penner has been receiving so much criticism in the past week.  Here are a just a few tweets I came across:

Twitter is a cruel world
Everyone is jumping on the 'Criticize Dustin Penner' bandwagon, but he's been playing better and better with each game.  And the Kings aren't losing because Penner is playing poorly or not up to everyone's expectations, they're losing because lately all the other forwards can't seem to get it together.

Tonight will be a tough game for the Kings because the Penguins have been playing very well this season even without Crosby. Remember last season when the Kings lost to the Penguins even though they didn't have Crosby AND Malkin?  Yeah, that was a bitch.  

Sometimes the Kings make me so sad.  I guess I need to lower my expectations.  Before I sign off, here are a couple things I was thinking about last night:

1. Dustin Brown is a dork.  He seems like the nicest guy in the world and is probably the most amazing father and husband, but I can't help but think he's a total dork.  A couple years ago my husband and I were driving around town and we saw a father and son riding bikes together.  It looked cute, but the dad had a fanny pack on or something lame and my husband commented that no matter how badass a guy may be, as soon as he becomes a father, he immediately becomes a dork.  Hockey players are no exception.  Case in point, last night Dustin Brown tweeted this:

"I love fruit"????  What?  The only thing I could think of was: He received an edible arrangement.  Even if it wasn't a bouquet of cut fruit, what could possibly be super cool and awesome AND have something to do with fruit?  I'm not sure we'll ever know because he never let his followers know what he received.

2.  Alec Martinez kinda looks like Ralph Macchio.  On Friday's PTI they were talking about Ralph Macchio and showed some photos of him and I couldn't help but think he resembled a certain LA Kings defenseman.  What do you think? Not an exact match, but similar, right?

Alec Martinez, The Karate Kid

Game Prediction:  Kings lose, but they don't embarrass themselves.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kings Gameday: The Oil are in Town

Fact: I've never liked the Edmonton Oilers.

I'll save my hate-fueled rant about the Oilers for another day.

Apparently the Edmonton Oilers have a couple of young sprightly talented hockey players.  You can follow their lives on Twitter: Taylor Hall & Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.  Both of these kids referred to California as "Cali".  I hate them already.

There's an article about RNH and his start in the NHL and comparisons to his days in Juniors.  It's all very inspiring and heartwarming, but the part that made my eyes bug out was the description of Edmonton having "the best goaltending in the NHL".  Guhhhh-WHAT?! Impossible! (say it in a French accent for a better effect.) Since when does Edmonton have the best goaltending?  I didn't trust the writer so I checked the NHL stats and sure enough our beloved Jonathan Quick has been bested in GAA and SV% by one goaltender: Nikolai Khabibulin.  Is anyone else shocked by this?  He goes from Tent City to top of the NHL in a matter of months.  That is crazy talk.  Also, this doesn't bode well for the scoring-challenged LA Kings.

I'm a bit frustrated, or maybe it's jealousy that's talking, to see Ryan Smyth with 10 points (5G, 5A) in 11 games.  You have got to be kidding me.  The guy had 7 points last season (3G, 4A) in 11 games and based on his play during the rest of the season, I figured his stats would continue to fall in the following season.  It pains me to see him doing this well considering there are some Kings who haven't yet contributed very many points.

LA Kings Insider reported on Wednesday that Simon Gagne will be back in the lineup, which means I can now restart my 'Anze for MVP' campaign. Anze has been most effective this season when Gagne is playing alongside him.  I expect at least 3 points from Anze tonight. Totally doable!

Things to watch for tonight:

  • 5-on-5: will the Kings be able to dominate at even strength?
  • Stupid penalties: Green has been good lately about staying out of the box, but now Parse is having trouble avoiding taking unnecessary penalties.  
  • Turnovers: Recently the Kings have been shooting themselves in the skates by turning over the puck way too many times
  • Penner vs. the Young Guns: Who will garner the most attention and will it be positive or negative?

I hope the Kings get out of their funk tonight.

Go Anze Go!