Ottawa Senators @ Los Angeles Kings Game 45 Running Diary: Groundhog Day, Again!
“It’s awful. It’s just embarrassing, to be honest. Not much more to say than that.” Kyle Clifford, on tonight’s loss.
Tonight, the Perspectives From the Cheap seats team (dad, daughter, son) are live from the C-level suites at Staples Center where the resistible force of the Ottawa Senators visit the movable object known as the Los Angeles Kings. The Sens are coming off a 2-1 victory against the Ducks Wednesday night ending a nine-game* winless streak. Meanwhile, the Kings are Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-ing it lately, sometimes looking so good and sometimes so bad, going 6-4-1 over the last 11 games.
* - Speaking of nine-game winless streaks, the Ducks are on a 0-6-3 slide which makes every Kings fan feel so much better about the current 29th position in the NHL. Our schadenfreude is in full effect when the Ducks suffer.
I’m buoyed by the prospects of a win tonight. Ottawa is last in goals against in NHL and 5-14-1 on road, playing in So Cal for the second consecutive night. Also, the Kings should be looking for some measure of revenge after that 5-1 debacle in Canada’s capital back in game five. That’s a recipe for a win.
There’s no one here tonight with the building at about 55% capacity. Depressing to see the place like this...
6:25—Drew Doughty gets rung up on a ticky-tack holding call against Brady Tkachuk who then takes his liberties against Drew as the referees look the other way on what should have been a Sens roughing call.
The Daughter: Two things are for sure: 1) The Tkachuk Family does not like Drew Doughty, and 2) Drew Doughty doesn’t get much love from the referees this year.
Me: Decline the penalty.
6:46—Boom. Jake Muzzin with the huuuuuuuuge hit on Nathan White, bouncing his head off the glass. Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s your Toyota Tough Hit of the Game. Maybe of the year. White is destined for concussion protocol.
7:44—Carl Hagelin with the beautiful combo hit, takeaway, and tip pass to Jeff Carter, breaking him away for a shorthanded bid the other way, but after laying Sens goalie Anders Nilsson out, he hits the post with the backhander. Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s a microcosm of the entire season: frustration unlimited.
8:25—The penalty is dead and that’s the best the Kings have looked on the penalty kill since the November 3rd home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets where Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown scored shorthanded on the same penalty.
10:10—Word trickles through the Twitter that Gabe Vilardi wasn’t traded, still hasn’t played since getting cut from the World Juniors, and there is no real timetable to get him to the big squad any longer.
The Son: “Worst Kings draft pick ever. Well, not really. We could have had Nikita Kucherov but the Kings decided to draft (goalie) Christopher Gibson.”
The Daughter: “Vilardi is never going to play again.”
The Son: “Another black mark for Rob Blake.”
12:31—Kings to the power play!
Me: “Why is Willie D. insisting to send out four forwards and a D-man all the time? It doesn’t work.”
The Daughter: “Stop blaming Desjardins for everything; you’re a broken record.”
13:00—Jonathan Quick denies the Mark Stone shorthanded bid and he weaves around everyone including Ilya Kolvachuk, who does his whirling dervish impression. In Quick We Trust!
Me: “Told ya. With two D out there, that doesn’t happen.”
16:00—Another shorthanded bid by Stone on the PK, this time on a two-on-one breakaway. Quick denies again!
16:57—Willie D. sends out his second power play unit: Alex Iafallo, Tyler Toffoli, Adrian Kempe, Brendan Leipsic, and Muzzin. Snickers all around in Suite C26.
18:50—We have our first Obligatory Willie Desjardins Lost Look on the scoreboard. Yep, just how I remembered it: Clueless. Oh WIllie, I missed you while I was away watching Kontinental Hockey League games over the holiday break. I’ll miss you come April 8th. Kinda. Sorta. Really not at all.
End of Period.
Kings fairly dominant in the first, but walk away scoreless despite playing a team with the worst goals against average in the league and lots of juicy Nilsson rebounds. Kings surge with nine shots in the last five minutes of the period.
Shots: Kings 18. Sens 10.
2:05—Alec Martinez looking good in his return, drawing penalties, takeaways, pushing the puck towards the net. We truly did miss you Marty!
Kings 1. Sens 0.
3:47—Kyle Clifford with his seventh goal from Jake Muzzin and Austin Wagner! That’s a career high for Cliffy, tying him with pure goal scorer Tyler Toffoli.
The Daughter: “Kyle Clifford: Prolific Goal Scorer!”
14:49—Nate Thompson off for tripping, giving the Sens their second power play of the night. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 100 times this season: decline the penalty, NFL-style!
Remember, the Sens played last night and should be tired. Instead it’s the Kings who look beat. I’m getting that Groundhog Day feeling all over again awaiting the worst team in the league to take over. Please be wrong, please be wrong...
Kings 1. Sens 1.
14:59—Whelp, that didn’t take long. Ten seconds into the power power, Bobby Ryan picks up his own rebound and solved Quick. He started the scoring last night against the Ducks and provided the spark. Time for the Kings to dig in and not let this one get away.
Dear Willie: Now’s the time to call a timeout! How many times should I offer to be your timeout specialist? You don’t have a shot since the Clifford goal. That’s almost 12 minutes of game action. You’re allowing the Sens to build momentum. How about a timeout to give the boys a chance to regroup with your sage advice. Isn’t it clear that the game has gotten away from your team?
Sens 2. Kings 1.
Me: What’s Nate Thompson doing out there with Carter and Iafallo? That makes no sense.
The Daughter: Can you just stop with the negativity?
16:40—And, just like that, former Shark Chris Tierney with the go-ahead goal and the Kings look dead on the ice.
The Son: It’s impossible to stop. We are the worst team in the league.
Me: Told ya about the timeout. Ugh.
End of Period.
Staples Center is not pleased.
We can blame effort, lack of production, and all that on the players. Truth of the matter is that the Kings Interim Coach had a chance to control the flow of the game and instead let his team sit flat-footed, going over 16 minutes without a shot on goal, and put out weird line combinations that led to what will prove to be the game-winning goal.
Shots: Kings 24. Sens 19.
Sens 3. Kings 1.
1:22—Christian Wolanin’s long range shot flutters in off Muzzin’s foot. Unassisted goal. Gross.
Time for a long walk around the concourse. There’s no way the Kings come back tonight. There’s no energy, no ooomph out there. The trading deadline can’t come quick enough. Even the staff at Staples Center agreed with me. They immediately turned the up escalators into down escalators so the imminently exiting crowd can leave faster. That’s the earliest I’ve seen the escalator switch in years. Sigh...
[Due to time constraints, I move you to late in the game with the Quick on the bench, pulled for the extra attacker.]
Sens 4. Kings 1.
19:02—Tierney with the empty netter. The Kings with a net zero productive effort after Kyle Clifford’s goal and that’s a shame. Even Koptiar who gave chase after Tierney gave a lackluster effort trying to break his stick on the Kings crossbar. His stick lives to see another game.
End of Game.
Shots: Kings 34. Sens 27.
Boos rain down from the few thousand left in attendance. You can hardly wait to read the quotes of frustration coming from the Kings locker room.
The Son: “It’s okay, dad. I really want Jack Hughes. Or even Kaapo Kakko.
Me: “Even if we fall to to the third spot in the draft, we could get Vasily Podkolzin.”
The Daughter: “You need to add Fan That Boos Their Home Team to your list of worst fans. They are the worst.”
And then there’s this:
Yep, Groundhog Day, all over again.
NEXT: The Kings host Pittsburgh on Saturday and welcome back Tanner Pearson on Star Wars Night.
“You worry sometimes. I was a little bit worried going into San Jose, but I thought we had a great effort in San Jose. Coming in here, they played last night, so you think we might have an advantage, so maybe the guys relaxed a little bit, and that’s usually one problem that we have sometimes is for whatever reason, we relax, we think it’s going to happen. We just didn’t get enough out of everybody. We just didn’t get enough out of all the lines, and to say ‘you see it,’ if you see it coming, then you’d change something so it wouldn’t come. It was one of those where if we score on that power play, we probably win the game. We were up 1-0. If we go up 2-0, we probably have a pretty good chance in that game.”
“Lack of emotion. Lack of, you know, just everybody on the bench is to blame. It’s awful. It’s just embarrassing, to be honest. Not much more to say than that.”