Greg is back, and so are his Kings; next up is round 2 against the Blues. Greg relives the series over the Canucks and shares THE best spot in LA to watch a Kings game. He’ll also tell you about the downsides of making twitter avatar bets. Follow him there; he’ll buy you a drink: @gpmurphy
There is no other word to describe this season for the Los Angeles Kings beside the word tumultuous. Terry Murray was replaced by Darryl Sutter. The team could not score in a brothel if they all had $100 bills hanging out of their zippers. Players that were penciled in as top 6 forwards were injured (Simon Gagne), not producing (Mike Richards), or busy eating pancakes (Dustin Penner). The penalty killing and defense were near the top of the league all season, and the absolutely superb, Vezina caliber goaltending of Jonathan Quick kept them close in the playoff race.
With the Kings close but still on the outside looking in as the trade deadline approached, Dean Lombardi made a blockbuster deal. He sent Jack Johnson and his disturbingly high cheekbones to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for “Party Boy” Jeff Carter. <note: we all would love to see Jeff Carter in the same Party Boy outfit that Chris Pontius made famous in the Jackass movies>.
As a result, the team won 9 of 13 and found themselves in a first place tie with the Phoenix Coyotes for the Pacific Division lead going into their last two games. A home and home series sweep against the San Jose Sharks would give the Kings their first division title since 1990-1991.
Going in to the third period of game #81, the Kings found themselves with a 3-2 lead. The Kings have not lost in regulation when leading after 2 in their last 643 games, or some ungodly number like that. San Jose would push back and a wild third period would see the score 5-5 late in the third period. With the Kings already on a power play, Ryane Clowe reached out and played the puck to break up a potential odd man rush. Would have been a great defensive play if CLOWE HAD NOT BEEN ON THE BENCH WHEN HE DID IT!
No call, because none of the four officials happened to be looking at the puck carrier in a tie game with under three minutes left. No two-man advantage. San Jose goes on to win in a shootout. Thank you Ryane Clowe, you cheating moist steaming turd of a hockey player. We might not have scored on that two-man advantage, and the result of the game very well might have been exactly the same, but we should have been afforded the opportunity. You blatantly cheated, and you will never deserve your name on the Stanley Cup.
The Kings would go on to lose the next game in overtime, and as a result, they would end up as the #8 seed in the Western Conference. Instead of playing an inexperienced St. Louis Blues team, and instead of having home ice against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Kings would have a date with the Presidents’ Trophy winning and defending Western Conference Champion Vancouver Canucks. JUST great. Most said Vancouver in 4 or 5. Hell, I even said Vancouver in 6.
The Kings outplayed the Canucks in game 1 and win 4-2. Vancouver is much better in game 2, but on the strength of two shorthanded goals by Dustin Brown the Kings shock the Canucks again by a 4-2 score. They would not only have a 2-0 lead, but they would also win me a twitter avatar bet with our resident Toronto Maple Leafs blogger Andrew.
The avatar was of his choice. He chose this: Well played Andrew. Well played indeed.
Back home for game 3, the Kings have a familiar problem; they simply can’t score. The Canucks are clearly the better team through the first two periods, but Quick is SPECTACULAR, keeping the game scoreless. In the third, the Kings are much better, and Dustin Brown would break through to give the Kings a 1-0 lead. Because of Jonathan Quick, that’s how the game would end. The Kings were up 3-0 against arguably the best team in the NHL, and I would win another avatar bet with Andrew. This time, the avatar was my choice. I chose this:
The Kings have never swept a seven game playoff series, and unfortunately still haven’t. Game 4 saw the return of the evil ginger twin and with it the return of the vaunted Canuck power play. The Kings played arguably their best game of the series, hit two posts, missed a penalty shot, and gave up two power play goals giving Vancouver a 3-1 win. More importantly, I lost the avatar bet. Here is the monstrosity that a stupid Coldplay concert forced me to have for 4 freaking days!
As I said, a stupid Coldplay concert forced a 3 day break between games 4 and 5. It would turn out to be worth the wait. Doing his best impression of Adam Deadmarsh, another #28 Jarret Stoll would score early in overtime to give the Kings a 2-1 win and a 4-1 series win. Kings go crazy, Canuck fans are stunned. But that’s not the best part of the game.
The best part is where I watched the game. I have watched every road playoff game at Gym Bar in West Hollywood, the only gay sports bar in LA as far as I know. I showed up as the game was about to begin and was greeted by a small contingent of Kings Fans. We all watched together; we yelled when the Kings refused to shoot the puck on the power play. We groaned when evil ginger #2 gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead. We screamed when Brad Richardson tied the game at 1 in the third period, and high-fived when Stoll scored to end Vancouver’s season. This was the first time I had encountered a random group of gay Kings Fans. It was pretty awesome knowing that there are others just like you, living and dying with their hockey team.
Since it was the last game of the season for Vancouver, Andrew will be forced to have this as his avatar until the start of the second round. I know I know…I’m a bitch.
Oh yeah, one more thing…BRING ON THE BLUES!