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Fear of Missing Out Playoff Running Diary: Flames @ Kings, Game 4, 1990 Smythe Semifinal

Kings Take Massacre on Manchester 12-4

Wayne Gretzky

The top of the Jewels From the Crown website said it all this morning:

Willie Desjardins gone, Toffoli calls practice effort “pathetic”, no new coach yet, Kings slip to fifth in the draft. WHAT ELSE?

With that in mind—and the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs starting—I needed to be part of the action. My fear of missing out (FOMO) had kicked in full force, so I got in the DeLorean and traveled back in time to just around this time in 1990.

April 10, 1990 was when the Los Angeles Kings laid down a beating in the Massacre on Manchester against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Calgary Flames in Game Four of the 1990 Smythe Division Semifinals.

Despite having Wayne Gretzky and his 142 points and Luc Robitaille (101 points), the Kings were a meager plus 8 as team for the season and mustered only 75 points on the year. Yes, in 1990, 75 points got you into the postseason—and in case you forgot already—this year the Kings’ 71 points got them 30th place in a 31-team league. None of this mattered against a 99-point Calgary team who were the Smythe Division champions and the Clarence Campbell Conference regular season champions.

In 1990, I went to games four and six of this playoff series. I found the tickets in the classified section of the Los Angeles Times and had to meet the guy selling them at the Unocal gas station a mile from the Great Western Forum. You could get arrested back them for selling (and buying) scalped tickets. (Yes they were called that back then and no there wasn’t some app you could purchase them with a couple of swipes.) Fifty dollars later, I had gained entry to some pretty special playoff games.

First Period

(Note: When you click on the clip above, be sure to rewind it to the start of the video.)

00:10—We are live from Inglewood with Bob Miller and Nick Nickson and Bob has already let us know that Al MacInnis is playing and that he missed last game with a charley horse. I wonder when charley horses became lower body injuries in NHL lore? Unsolved mysteries for sure.

00:12—Kings still playing dump and chase. Two Stanley Cups later and nothing has changed.

01:16—Steve Duchene is a one-man wrecking crew with two big hits to draw the 16,005 fans into the game.

02:00—Play is stopped after Gretzky takes a two-line pass and Tomas Sandstrom shoots it anyway. Flames Captain Doug Gilmour takes exception and dumps Sandstrom from behind as we go to commercial. Two important notes: 1) what was the NHL thinking with that no two-line pass rule? and 2) If someone like Brady Tkachuk dumped a point-a-game player (like Sandstrom was in 1990) in the 2019 playoffs, he would immediately be pummeled and maybe suspended for the next game.

02:16—Nick lets us know that if you want it rough and tumble then the Flames’ Gary Roberts will oblige, because not only did he almost double his point total from 38 to 72 but he also added 222 penalty minutes for good measure!

02:27—Here come the “Go Kings Go” chants as we have a Larry Robinson sighting for the first time tonight. He struggled in the regular season, but he’s playing in his 18th straight season in the playoffs (an NHL record).

02:52—Nothing beats old-time savvy as Robinson registers three hits on this shift so far.

03:46—Jay Miller enters the zone with some speed and gets spun around by MacInnis. Miller milked that one (that’s called embellishment in 2019) and Big Al goes to the box for holding. We will skate 5-4 for a while where the Kings were 2 of 12 with the two-man advantage during the regular season.

04:12—Kings score! No wait. The whistle had blown. But wait once more. Referee Andy Van Helleman is jawing with Gilmour at the scorer’s booth. We may have a Flames penalty. Ric Nattress with the incredibly dumb unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after he cross checked John Tonelli. My-oh-my has cross checking changed in the last 20 years. That was more like Nattress was chopping wood in Hamilton, Ontario. We’ll skate 5-4 for a while.

04:12 (continued)—Calgary coach Terry Crisp with some last second advice, sweater tugging, and what looked like some Marquess of Queensbury fighting instruction for Gilmour.

05:16—Flames are taking their liberties now as a Gilmour cross check goes uncalled and then Kings goalie Kelly Hrudey gets knocked over to the side the net by Joe Nieuwendyk. I could have sworn this was a home game for the Kings...

05:46—Flames kill the first penalty off as the Kings haven’t been able to solve Mike Vernon who is 9-3 lifetime against the Kings in the playoffs.

Kings 1. Flames 0.

06:38—Dave Taylor with his second goal of the playoffs off a brilliant Gretzky-like feed from Todd Elik. “This line has been buzzing all playoffs...”

06:48—The puck gets frozen intentionally along the boards in the Kings zone. You never see that anymore either, but once upon a time, this was much better than that energy wasting icing to get a stoppage.

Kings 2. Flames 0.

08:25—Tony Granato flung a nifty little wrister from the left-wing circle after rookie Rob Blake was knocked off the puck. Vernon could only manage a weak glove side stab at the puck as Blake pulled a combo two-man check/screen.

10:35—Nick lets us know that Gretzky got cross checked on the previous play (no call) as he checked the replay. Funny thing is we never got to see the original infraction or a replay. As a matter of fact, the telecast has no continuous graphics with a score, time left, or shots on goal. I mean, seriously, how did we watch games in the stone age of NHL hockey?

10:47—Tim Watters is hurt off another cheap shot by GIlmour! Hey Nick, let’s see the replay. What? No? Oh yeah, no replays allowed. That one was also a no call. I forget how badly the refs used to swallow their whistles.

Kings 3. Flames 0.

11:06—After all the abuse he’s taken all night, Sandstrom pushes the lead to three. Grezky led Sandstrom all the way to tip in the empty netter. Yes, Vernon was in net. Yes, the net was empty. That’s three goals on the last three King’s shots and that’s it for Mike Vernon on the Kings simulcast. Crisp pulls him and Rick Wamsley takes over.

“The Flames have been so concerned about hitting the Kings that they have forgotten how to play the game.” —Nick Nickson

11:22—Another hit from behind and Bob tell us that the Flames are shaken up and resorting to chippy hockey. These days “chippy hockey” is a slash near the shinguard, but back then, near removals of kidneys was the chippy course of action.

Kings 4. Flames 0.

11:55—A rare Luc Robitaille defensive sighting results in one, two, three shots as Taylor tips home his second of the game as Magic Johnson small fives from his glass seats.

13:08—Kings outshooting the Flames ten to nothing in the period. Western Canada must be going crazy.

13:22—Jay Miller on a two-on-zero break isn’t good enough to get set for a breakaway goal, loses the puck and decides to steamroll Wamsley who twists and turns to the left of his net as play continues. No one has sat down in minutes at the Forum.

14:09—The only thing that can stop play in this game are the dreaded two-line pass and Kings goals.

15:17—Marty McSorley gets a nice stiff elbow from Roberts. No call. Flames still without a shot on goal or a shot to win this game.

16:04—There goes the shutout. No the Flames didn’t score, they registered their first shot of the game.

18:57—Roberts and Mike Krushelnyski go for roughing as Roberts drops approximately 16 F-bombs on his way to the box. End of Period.

Kings with a smart measured game so far in a dominant first period. Calgary can be politely described as “a mess.”

Shots: Kings 13. Flyers 4.

Second Period

We move the second period and the Calgary Flames announcers led by Doc Emrick.

(Note: When you click on the clip above, be sure to rewind it to the start of the video.)

Kings 5. Flames 0.

02:26—Somehow, some way, Gretzky finds space to make a 20-foot pass to Tony Granato who was only three fee away as then somehow, some way Granato deked Wamsley three times before beating him. Then for some reason the cameraman focused in on one female fan for a very uncomfortable and very long three seconds.

Kings 6. Flames 0.

04:20—Inexplicably the video switched to the French feed as we see Jay Miller net a ricochet goal from behind the net and then whirlbirds himself in between the circles so we all knew than was his first playoff goal. If you’re a Kings fan, you are loving this. If you’re Rick Wamsley, you know that you could possible give up five to fifteen more goals tonight.

Kings 7. Flames 0.

07:58—We’re back with Doc, “Wayne Gretzky with a lot of room and boy does that favor him...” as his glides in effortlessly puts a shot down low and Sandstrom scoops up the loose change. Kings up by a touchdown as the Flames hear “I Love LA” for the seventh time tonight.

Kings 7. Flames 1.

09:16—There goes the shutout for real as Joel Otto knocks home the Sergei Makarov rebound. Hrudey is not too happy with the Roberts interference. The Kings are so used to losing that the organist cajoles the crowd into a “Go Kings Go” to ease the thoughts of a 7-0 evaporating.

Kings 7. Flames 2.

09:38—The Flames charge back 22 seconds later with as Paul Ranheim finishes from Joel Otto. Nervous time in Los Angeles.

Kings 8. Flames 2.

10:57—Order restored as Gretzky decides it’s time to score, stopping on a dime, pivoting and sliding one past a prone Walmsley. The Flames announcers are so starstruck by an “All My Children” star in the stand that they start imitating Rocky Balboa. Craziness reigns at the Forum.

Kings 8. Flames 3.

13:25—Theo Fleury unassisted off “not that good a clear by Rob Blake.” That’s the seventh goal of the period. The tension is again palpable in Los Angeles.

Kings 9. Flames 3.

16:44—Todd Elik breaks in off a smooth Dave Taylor pass and flicks it past Walmsley who looked like his glove weighed 61 points.

Kings 9. Flames 4.

19:05—That one ties the record for most goals in a playoff game period with nine. The Flames analyst moaning and groaning through four shots and a mad scramble and then yelling at his producer to get out of his ear is easily the funniest thing you’ll hear all game. Joe Nieuwendyk somehow found the net. Nineteen years later I defy you to actually see it going it. Calgary to within five again.

End of Period.

Minus the hitting and the cheap shots, this looks like one of those free-wheeling North America verses the World All Star Games. Kings with a seemingly safe 9-4 lead.

Shots: Kings 25. Flyers 20.

Third Period

(Note: When you click on the clip above, be sure to rewind it to the start of the video.)

The action opens in the clip with Mike Krushelnyski getting clotheslined and dragged down by the head. Of course there was no call.

Kings 10. Flames 4.

09:15—Thirteen years as an LA King and Dave Taylor has a playoff hat trick and the Forum is going nuts.

Kings 11. Flames 4.

13:59—Sandstrom from Wayne Gretzky for his hat trick. Here come the hats, part two! The Ultimate Warrior is in the crowd in a Kelly Hrudey sweater. Since the fans ran out of hats on Taylor’s goal, Dave Courtney implores the everyone to not throw anything but hats. Bedlam reigns in Los Angeles!

Kings 12. Flames 4.

17:04—Here come the imaginary hats, part three! Granato with the hat trick! Three consecutive hat tricks! Poor Rick Walmsley didn’t even try to stop that one.

End of Game.

One of the most exciting, violent games I ever saw. The Kings would lose 5-1 in the next game before returning home to take the series clincher in game six’s double overtime thriller.

Shots: Kings 40. Flames 24.


Up in the owners’ box, Bruce McNall, the Kings’ current owner, and Jerry Buss, the previous owner, were almost too shocked to celebrate:

”We were stunned,” McNall said. “It was crazy up there. Pandemonium.”

Dave Taylor:

”It is mind-boggling, when you look at the stats. You are going to have a game like that where the puck has eyes and they find the corners and they go in the net. We can’t get too fat because we scored a dozen goals. We just have to go to Calgary and get the fourth win.”

Calgary Coach Terry Crisp:

“We’re totally humiliated and totally embarrassed.”

GAME NOTES: Third Star—Granato, Second Star—Sandstrom, First Star—Dave Taylor ... LA’s three hat tricks break a playoff record … Taylor, Granato and Sandstrom scored on nine of 10 shots … Kings lead series against Flames, three games to one. … The Kings had only four previous playoff hat tricks in their entire history … The former King playoff record for points in a game was four. Three Kings—Granato, Sandstrom and Wayne Gretzky—had five apiece … Doug Gilmour and Brian MacLellan were both a minus 6 for the game.