It the Los Angeles Kings versus the Boston Bruins, live from Staples Center on Chinese Heritage Night. I had slotted this for a running diary, but it’s been forever since I was able to watch the Kings fumble away victory in person, so I decided to watch the game without the pressure of living and dying with each power play and penalty kill and keeping heavy items away from my reach to avoid blunt force trauma on my television. Instead I took in a game that was an up and down affair filled with alternating despair and hope while battling off a crowd filled with yellow, brown, and black Boston jerseys trying to start their “Let’s Go Bruins” chants.
The Kings battled the much better—at least on paper—Bruins team to a 2-2 draw through the first 56 minutes and then everything fell apart. At the sixteen-minute mark of the third Brad Marchand hooked Jeff Carter and the Kings went to their version of the power play.
Despite a brilliant Ilya Kovalchuk power play goal earlier in the game, the Kings are hard to watch with the man advantage. This power play was actually worse. Disorganized. Poor Execution. Low awareness. Pick any of those descriptors and you’d hit a bullseye. When the Bruins put that power play out of its misery, two minutes remained on the scoreboard and you were fairly confident that at least a point would be earned this Saturday night.
And then, disaster struck.
For the second game in a row, the Kings gave up a goal with less than two minutes remaining in the third, making it 3-2 Bruins. Just thirty-six seconds later, the hero from last Saturday, Patrice Bergeron sealed the game with a one-handed takeaway for the dagger and the single, strangest call of a goal I’ve heard in a long, long time.** This time the late night missteps would cost them two points and added another loss, pushing them to within three points of last place in the league.
Bruins 1. Kings 1.
Bruins 2. Kings 2.
** - Bruins 4. Kings 2.
“Off With Their Heads...”
You know, I’m maybe one of the Kings harshest critics, but this call from the Bruins’ announcers seem to be a little extra. Yet, the NHL Network lauded it as one of their calls of the night. I say the smug Bruins announcers need some etiquette training. You decide:
Here are the things I noticed from my seat about twenty feet from the ice:
—Surviving Willie Desjardins. Look boys and girls, the Kings aren’t making the playoffs. Talk to me until you’re blue in the face about only being out of the second wild card spot by eight points. I know you think it’s possible, but clawing over seven teams and making up four plus victories in the final 24 games isn’t conceivable. At this point, I don’t really care about the wins. I care about whether or not the interim coach takes years off the careers of players like Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty. Regular readers will note my disdain for playing what’s left of the Kings elite core players in these now meaningless games (and let’s face it, the games have been meaningless for a couple of months now). Tonight, Willie Desjardins played Doughty 29 minutes, Kopitar 22 minutes, Brown 20 minutes, and a fresh-off-a-lower-body-injuryJeff Carter over 18 minutes. It’s no wonder Doughty was a minus three and looked nowhere close to the Norris Trophy missile of a defenseman we know and loved. It’s also no wonder that Kopitar was a bit heavy footed at the end of the game and the game winning goal went off the toe of his skate. Close your eyes and try to remember Dustin Brown’s last goal. Can’t remember? It was January 17th against Dallas. That was 11 games ago. There’s simply no need when players like Matt Roy (11:32 TOI) Kyle Clifford (10:19), Trevor Lewis (11:09), and Austin Wagner (9:35) can soak up some valuable time. The worry is real and shouldn’t be ignored.
—Ilya Kovalchuk. Not since the outrage of Dustin Brown’s contract a couple of years ago have I seen such a diverse set of polarizing opinions surrounding a player. Kovalchuk has stood out since the All Star break. He’s easily the most energetic, creative, and exciting player on the ice every night. All I ever read is that the “Kovalchuk Experiment” has failed and the Kings should try and trade him. When I look at the games, I see a group of players who haven’t been coached to match his strengths, especially on the power play. Seldom is the one-timer fed properly. I bet it’s cost the Kings five to ten goals this season. Don’t believe me? Watch a Capitals game. Alex Ovechkin is fed the one-timer perfectly, time and time again. He’s scored 39 goals this year and more than 20 have come from the exact same spot on the left wing circle. It’s amazing to see. The same should be happening for Kolvachuk. Also, for all of us bread lovers out here, he’s the single greatest recruiting tool that the Kings have to acquire Artemi Panarin. Imagine being able to get Panarin in Los Angeles AND getting one of those top three game changers in the draft.
—We still care. I didn’t notice how many Boston fans were in the crowd tonight until the fourth Bruins goal. It seems that the 300 level was 60-70 per cent Boston Bruins fans, but their black jerseys camouflaged them. Try as they might, every time they tired to get their “Let’s Go Bruins” chant going, they were shut down but the Kings faithful. They couldn’t get anything going all game. They didn’t even try to get that tired “BEAT LA, BEAT LA” chant going. We simply wouldn’t let it. Ask the Anaheim fans how humiliating it is for them when we invade the Honda Center chanting “Go Kings Go” all game drowning out their cheers. This wasn’t happening tonight and it wont ever occur at Staples Center.
"With having four minutes left and having a power play and a tied game, we have to find a way to score." - Anze Kopitar after tonight's difficult loss pic.twitter.com/EudgnElFVI— LA Kings (@LAKings) February 17, 2019