Soooooo…. The Kings are 3-5-0 so far this season. That’s a paltry 60-62 point projection based on a full season and worse than the dismal 71 points posted last season. You might say, “YIKES!” But you know what? I’m good with 2019-20 so far. Are you? If not, you should be.
This team is a ton better than last year. Maybe you don’t remember those guys, wandering through the 2018-19 season looking like a bunch of desert nomads without a GPS. In the dozen games I went to last season, the Kings produced one win. ONE! And the fans were fed up. Livid. Revolts were at hand. Torches and pitchforks were being assembled. Rebellion was imminent. StubHub had a ticket overload. Six-dollar Upper Level seats and $25 tickets in Premium Seating were easily had.
Last week I proclaimed that the NHL better beware because the Kings are coming. I have to tell you that after watching two shutouts and three loses sandwiched in between two encouraging wins on the last homestand did nothing but buoy that sentiment.
Say whatever you want about the five loses, but the Kings were in every one of those games. Better yet, they have outshot every team this season and not those junky 30 shots from the boards and perimeter nights. I’m taking high quality chances. The kind of game that required Marc-Andre Fleury, Petr Mrazek, and Carter Hutton to stand on their heads in consecutive nights to keep the Kings at bay. You have to figure that if those games occurred two months from now in Todd McLellan’s system those could’ve / should’ve been wins.
Speaking of McLellan, you have to love his not-so-covert “stupidity” shade he levied on Adrian Kempe and Ilya Kovalchuk in back to back games.
After the Carolina game, McLellan on Kempe:
“I thought it was a very evenly played game. We’re chasing parts of our game right now that we have to continue to work on, but I wasn’t real disappointed in the effort or the will to get things done”— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) October 16, 2019
Coach Todd McLellan shares his thoughts after tonight’s loss @LAKings pic.twitter.com/s1b672s4Kx
After the Buffalo game, McLellan on Kovalchuk (and some others):
“My concern is our approach to the game early tonight. The same line two shifts in a row made the same mistake. Eventually the guys are going to have to get it or we’ll be chasing games forever”— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) October 18, 2019
Coach Todd McLellan reflects on tonight’s fall to the Sabres@LAKings pic.twitter.com/7beiPBm2wu
Exasperated about 3-5-0 despite all of the pluses? Let’s compare how frustrating losses were handled from the top last year:
"We have to find a way to be better." - Head Coach Willie Desjardins pic.twitter.com/7r4eah3YjO— LA Kings (@LAKings) February 24, 2019
Right now, the Kings are run-of-the-mill at best. You can say it holds minimal or even no predictive value, but it doesn’t change the fact that we’re almost one-eighth through the season and this team looks spry and ready to embrace accountability. We expected a learning curve and this is what it looks like on the ice in real time.
Those of you who thought this season would be a rousing run towards a playoff spot need to get a reality check. Yeah, they hurt and it never feels good to look at your team in the mirror and see all of the warts, but it’s about time you do. Our Kings have been toiling in relative obscurity for around for 52 seasons, with those 49 of them ranging from “ill-fated” to “miserable.” Putting aside that magical three-year 2012-14 run (two Stanley Cups bookending a conference final in 2013), we, as fans have only a two other eras of note: the Rogie Vachon/Marcel Dionne Purple and Gold Era and the Gretzky Era. Those eras produced exactly one Stanley Cup finalist run, which ended from the worst possible manner (McSorley’s stick debacle).
I mean Kings fans haven’t been exactly tortured like Buffalo, Canucks, and Toronto fans with exactly zero real success in 152 combined season. We had a few nice seasons when the Kings suddenly started winning games and championships, hanging banners and shaming the rest of California hockey, and all of a sudden we’ve become a bunch of entitled whiners. Instead of feeling fortunate that we experienced a winning era only a few seasons ago, we are walking around thinking the Kings should be the reincarnation of the Canadiens, Oilers, and Islanders dynasties of years gone by.
I have news for you all: It’s not happening yet. But you can feel the tide turning. The Kings aren’t that easy win you’ve seen in three out of four recent seasons. Teams know they have to work. Teams know the shots will be coming in flurries. Just imagine if Matt Roy learns to actually play defense or if the Kings sit Joakim Ryan so they can get a little grit in the lineup in the form of Kurtis MacDermid. Say whatever you want about Kempe, Kovalchuk, or Jeff Carter losing his scoring touch, but the liability paring of Roy-Ryan has been a disaster of epic proportions. I cringe every time I see them on the ice. You should too because the way they have played probably wouldn’t even work in front of Cal Petersen in Ontario. They need to go.
But those of you who don’t want to embrace the learning curve, remember that there’s an expansion drat coming and showing too much of our young talent at the NHL level will be detrimental to team health. Only so many goalies and positional players can be protected. Who you see playing now has a factor in what you see on the ice. Also remember, since a Stanley Cup push this season isn’t likely, the Kings definitely want a shot at this guy:
You should want a shot at him too. Don’t be pennywise and dollar foolish. The future is around the corner. Remember the Cup Era when things don’t go well this season. You’ll be happier in the moment and happier in the future.