Follow The Under Dog. Hold On Its Collar Tight.
This City Loves A Scrum. One Day Its Gonna Fight.
Good Days Bad Days, Kaiser Chiefs, Off With Their Heads 2008
Forgive me a bit of nostalgia? If you read my playoff coverage last April, well, I apologize. Uh, I mean, you’ll recognize the lyrics above. However, understand, the last time I did this…… this exact thing, the Los Angeles Kings won in overtime. You remember that yeah? Our injured Anze Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds saved the Kings from a 2-0 deficit against tonight’s opponent, the Vancouver Canucks.
As for me? I was attending a watch party, in a room that was simultaneously lacking the air to breathe and filled with hope. It was just across the street from a silent Staples Center at the ESPN Zone. Then, with the second period winding down, the Hockey Gods smiled on the Kings and during a three on one break, Kopitar slid a pass to his teammate with sonar radar. Simmonds thanked him by putting home a goal that would send game two into overtime.
We all held our collective breath until the 7:28 mark of overtime. It was then that karma came back to Kopitar and he won the game on a power-play goal (ironic, isn’t it) that delivered euphoria. Suddenly I had twenty new best friends and the Kings were coming to Staples for the first playoff game in eight years, tied 1-1.
Tonight, the Kings play those same Canucks, with their second-season having already started. And again, I’ll be in the house for a watch party. However, unlike last time it is not at the ESPN Zone, but at Leo’s Sports Bar and Grill in La Crescenta. Another difference? The Kings find themselves down their leading point producers (Kopitar and Justin Williams).
Battle one of this war, which was Dustin Penner’s return to Edmonton, and a win against the Edmonton Oilers, was a confidence builder. Tonight the Canucks are lined up for a fight on home ice and Vancouver is not the Oilers. The number one team in the Western Conference has a message to send. From last season, and for this year’s playoffs. There is no room for the Kings power-play to rank eighteenth in the league at seventeen percent. For perspective, the New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche are ranked higher, and the Canucks lead the league.
Unlike the NFL, the Kings can not decline penalties. The set-up is a mess from the drop of the puck. It could almost be said that they are so tight defensively that they can’t let go and shoot. Needed speed and tenacity to successfully open the lanes, crash the net and create rebounds continues to allude them. Throughout the season blue-line cannons that are well timed and placed have been present but now are gone, MIA or badly timed. The Kings are holding their sticks too tight, thinking too much, and almost seem to be working the fourth best penalty-kill in the league when they are the ones on the power-play.