Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Kings Gameday: For Eff's Sake....

Los Angeles Kings (9-13-1, last in West) @ San Jose Sharks (11-8-3, 1st in gay)

7:30 PST, FSN West

Kings' Record in November: 3-6-1

Will everyone please calm the fuck down? I know the Kings are on a little bit of a losing streak, but still, there’s no reason to panic. For all the gloom and doom, they’re only 7 points out of a playoff spot because the West is the weirdest thing this noble writer has ever seen. (Seriously, look at the Central and tell me there’s not some sort of voodoo going on there.) If the Kings win 4 games in a row and all of a sudden they’re back in the thick of it and everyone starts making reservations for the playoffs. Breathe, people; it’s a long season.

What bothers me more than people who overreact to the ups and downs of the season are the people who try to give a team fatal flaws like they’re in some sort of Goddamned Greek tragedy. The Kings’ fatal flaw? They’re “soft.” What does that even mean? Do teams enjoy checking Lubo because he’s all cuddly? (I like to think he actually is, by the way.) This perception is only reinforced when the Kings play the rogues to the South because they led the league in fighting last year and won a Cup, so that of course was the reason they won. For the last time, and this can’t be stressed enough: FIGHTING HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE DUCKS’ STANLEY CUP. If I had to rank it somewhere, I’d put it right below Earl’s cartoons and right above George Parros’ moustache. The Ducks didn’t win the Cup because they fought; they won because they were good at hockey.

"His skin is so soft I could punch all day!"

Besides, who cares if the Kings aren't tough? I mean, it’s not like John Zeiler is getting hit and then immediately crying on the bench. I tend to think the whole emotional impact of checks and fights are overrated among fans anyway, but even if it is real, the Sharks, Red Wings, and Senators all manage to do just fine. You only really hear about teams being soft when they lose; why is that?

Now, I’m not a world-renowned psychologist (I’m only renowned in the former Yugoslavia), but I think it’s because fans (and writers) get mad when a team loses a game and want the team to retaliate in some way. They want an indication that the team is as mad as they are, shown through a check or a fight; when that doesn’t happen, they decide the team has no “heart.” It’s an easy reaction, but just because it’s easy doesn’t mean we have to go with it. The Kings are all hockey players and they’ve all bled and sweat more than we’ll ever be able to fathom to get to where they are. Now, if someone wants to deride a player’s actual ability at the sport of hockey (Jon Klemm comes to mind; seriously, Nagy wouldn’t have helped us in that game?), then I’m all for it. These little psychological profiles from afar, though, are getting really, really annoying.


Jaroslav Modry is gone for a while as he has gone back to Slovakia or the Moon or wherever the fuck he’s from to see his sick dad. That okay, I guess. Jon Klemm will be taking his place, and I can pretty much guarantee that after tonight Jon Klemm will be my least favorite person on the planet. Let’s run down the checklist:

Not good at hockey? Check.

Old, and therefore unlikely to improve the team long-term? Check.

Old, and therefore a beneficiary of the ol’ “Veteran Presence” card? Check.

One of Crawford’s buddies? Check.

He sucks, but Goddammit he sucks with HEART.

Yeah, that should about cover it. If I were Peter Harrold, and I just got passed over by Jon Klemm to go to the NHL, I’d be pretty pissed right now.


The Kings play the Sharks again this month up in San Jose, where they’ve already won 2 games this season. The Sharks are well-versed in this whole “this team is soft” mantra, which always seemed ridiculous to me because they’re usually one of the biggest teams in the NHL. Why is it that making a run at someone when there head is down makes you tough, but being able to hold off a defender while also making a beautiful pass does not? I will bet 10,000 Sleek bucks that if the Sharks win the Stanley Cup this year credit will go not to Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau or Milan Michalek or Evgeni Nabokov, but to Craig Rivet and Doug “Don’t Call Me Doug” Murray. When that happens, my head will explode.

Prediction: Kings lose, 2-3. They will be up 2-1, but then the Jon Klemm effect will take hold. That’s how he rolls, baby: shittily.


tony said...

play nagy.

jon klemm has old balls.

that is all.

spade-in-victorhell said...

I actually agree with you (cue the home alone face) ...fighting and other shinneagans that ducks do didn't win the cup or help them this year...but as evidence in last nites game...it's sure provides great entertainment especially when my team starts sucking ass...I'd rather lose kicking some (insert team here) tail or getting a free cross check after (insert unsuspecting poor sapp here) scores a goal..than my team sucking ass and just skating around with there thumb up there ass...till the horn goes al la the kings....

RudyKelly said...

Don't get me wrong, I love watching Ivanans fight and Brown laying the boom, it's one of my favorite parts of hockey. I just don't think it really has a big impact on the outcome of the game.

And I'm convince Chris Pronger only plays hockey so he can get those free cross checks. I think he'd rather do that all day than win another Cup.

Earl Sleek said...

If I had to rank it somewhere, I’d put it right below Earl’s cartoons and right above George Parros’ moustache.

Don't underestimate the cartoons. I think they might have won three postseason games all by themselves.

As Spade has said, though, the importance of fighting becomes apparent when your team loses all the goddamn time. At least there's something to talk about the next day.

spade-in-victorhell said...

the rough stuff is really for the fans...burke knows this and crafted his team that way...as far as detriot goes..( Ill look for the link) they had a poll and asked the fans of detriot what were 3 reasons your not going to the game. the 3 top answers were..somthing like the detriot economy..STYLE OF PLAY...I forgot the 3rd one..I think they miss the shanahan lapointe cicerelli mcarty days...

as far as ottawa goes well there candian so they love anyway its played...

point is and don cherry said it during the stanley cup final...americans love violence..hello the UFC is super popular...burke is catering to the people and its working

your right though it does nto impact the game..but its fun to watch!!

p.s. there showed the first ducks-kings game....crazy had gretzky and kurri...the grim reaper todd ewen...it was awesome they showed it after the kings-ducks game

Ian said...

I'll respectfully disagree that the Duck's fighting had nothing to do with their success. Fighting won't win you a Cup, but toughness very well might.

A player like, oh, let's say, Datsyuk will (unconsciously?) pull back a little more along the boards, or in front of the net against a team like the Ducks.

Want a good indication that Pronger is on his game? Look at his penalty minutes. Elbowing, roughing, boarding, slashing, and fighting: good. Holding, interference, high-sticking: bad. If he's playing right at the very edge of legality, and occasionally going over the line (but not too often), he's being an effective player, like Scott Stevens.

If Pronger is playing like that, it's going to lead to fights, inevitably. And Datsyuk is going to be that much more careful when going into the corner against Pronger. He's off his game a little bit, and that's the difference between scoring and not scoring in the NHL.

Disclaimer: I f$*%&*ng hate Pronger, but he's damn good at what he does.

Chris in Torrance said...

It's a tough sell to convince me that Klemm sucks any more than Modry. I also agree with Ian, toughness does win games. Ottawa breezed thru the Easter Conference playoffs last year, but as soon as the Ducks put the hammer to them, they folded up. Toughness does have a place in hockey and the Kings need to find some desperately!

spade-in-victorhell said...

haha good points on the last 2 comments fo sho

Anonymous said...

good article

RudyKelly said...

I think you have to make a distinction between a team being "tough" and playing good defense. Both Chris Pronger and Rob Blake are tough; the difference is that Pronger plays good defense too. Brendan Witt is tough as hell, but he sucks at defense, so he's not as valuable. On the flip side, Lidstrom is softer than Charmin but he plays good defense, so he's valuable. There's more than one way to skin a cat. Also, why would you want to skin a cat? That's disgusting.

And I think it's unfair to say the Senators lost because they ran into a hammer; they ran into Sammy Pahlsson's line. That brings up another point: is Sammy Pahlsson considered tough? He doesn't get penalty minutes and he's not overly physical, but I think most people would say yes.

bdub said...

And I think it's unfair to say the Senators lost because they ran into a hammer; they ran into Sammy Pahlsson's line

Sami's PĂ„hlssons line = hammer.
Go Ducks!

Earl Sleek said...

That brings up another point: is Sammy Pahlsson considered tough?

He will always hit harder than he gets hit, he's a pain in the ass along the boards, and he's unrelenting on his backcheck.

I'd say he's tough.

Chris in Torrance said...

The knock against the Ottawa Senators for years has been that they are skilled enough to breeze thru the regular season, but not tough enough to win in the playoffs, same has been the case for the Red Wings since Bowman's departure.

A quote from my favorite hockey anaylyst Barry Melrose "In hockey, will beats skill."

Earl Sleek said...

Yeah, my only complaint about labels on Detroit and Ottawa is that they're always applied after-the-fact. Once they lose, it becomes easy to say they choked or couldn't handle the physical side of the game. But when they win series handily then they have become "veteran" or "cagey" or some other label.

It's not that being tough is valueless; it's just there are more important factors involved in winning.