Three months after starting to follow hockey, I know way more about it than noted hockey writer Bill Simmons
That's about as noteworthy as knowing more about sabermetrics than Joe Morgan, or knowing more about hip hop than Tony Kornheiser. In fact it's no more noteworthy than knowing more than Simmons does about anything besides the NBA. Still, after reading a dogshit piece he wrote for Grantland about the Los Angeles Kings, I couldn't help but smirk. I followed the NHL back when I was in middle school, stopped for almost 15 years, picked it back up this January, and could easily recognize that Simmons was talking out of his colon. Never change, Bill. Never change.
The L.A. Kings blew a chance to clinch their division (and a no. 3 seed) Thursday night, losing a shootout at home to San Jose. Those two teams play again on Saturday night, in San Jose, with the winner getting the no. 3 seed and the loser getting the no. 7 seed. (Late note after we posted:
Leitch and Simmons are the same person! Holy shit, it makes so much sense! It's like I just finished watching Fight Club for the first time!
Apparently Phoenix can win the division as well by winning its last two games.
Late note after I wrote this: my editors informed me that I didn't have all the facts correct. There's a first time for everything, I suppose.
I'm not too concerned because, again, it's Phoenix.)
Phoenix ended up winning those games and the division.
None of this really matters because seeds don't matter in hockey -- anybody can beat anybody anywhere at anytime --
Home teams in game 7s in NHL playoff history: 85-55.
but for the die-hards sitting in my section, it mattered for two reasons.
I love his insinuation that any RATIONAL fan doesn't care whether their team is the 3 seed or the 8 seed. It's only those crazypants lunatics who actually want home ice advantage.
1. The no. 3 seed potentially means an extra playoff game (Game 7, no less). Like everyone else who bought Kings playoff tickets, I wanted that extra game. Badly.
Ah, the perspective of the everyman fan that made Bill famous. I DEMAND THE OPPORTUNITY TO BUY MORE $200 PLAYOFF TICKETS! ALSO, DAVID STERN, YOUR REFUSAL TO MAKE SURE TEAMS PLAY THEIR STAR PLAYERS IN EVERY GAME SPITS IN THE FACE OF THOSE OF US WHO GO TO DOZENS OF GAMES A YEAR! I DID NOT BUY THESE CLIPPERS SEASON TICKETS TO SEE DERRICK ROSE ON THE SIDELINES IN A SUIT! A POX ON YOU!
I was rooting for the Kings like they were a Boston team last night.
Sitting in your section must be super fun.
2. I know this sounds impossible, but in 44 years, the Kings have only captured one division title. They even put up a banner in Staples Center for it. Is there a better way to prove your fans have been tortured than hanging division banners,
Lots of teams that aren't 80+ years old do that. I know it's funny to imagine franchises outside of PEDROIA NATION being excited about regular season success, but it happens.
or even worse, having one of those fans say during a game, "We need to get that banner?" (And yes, I heard someone say that last night.)
Lol what's that guy's problem? What is he, a fan?
So last night's battle against the Sharks felt like a de facto playoff game.
What a shock, considering absolutely nothing was on the line.
You can always judge the chippiness of any hockey game by the number of times after a goalie freezes the puck when an opposing forward does the "go an extra couple of feet and abruptly stops right in front of the goalie just in case the puck falls out" move, then at least one opponent whacks him in the face and they do the whole "Hey, what was that????" staredown/shoving/sarcastic swearing routine.
Hockey, explained by a nine year old pro wrestling fan.
The Kings and Sharks did that after just about every whistle.
And then dad bought us popcorn, but I spilled mine, but it was OK because then we got hot dogs.
Late in the third period, with the Kings pressing on a power play and Jarrett Stoll flying up the ice on a two-on-one, the evil Ryane Clowe (a bearded bully on the Sharks who had already scored a goal and won two fights) broke up the breakaway by deflecting the puck with this stick. This wouldn't have been a big deal except, you know, CLOWE WAS SITTING ON THE BENCH AT THE TIME!!!! Did all four referees miss him doing this? Of course they did. After the 75th time they replayed it on the video screen, everyone knew the Kings would lose because that's just how hockey works — when you get screwed over on something like that, there's no bouncing back.
"That's just how hockey works." - some asshole who is a famous sportswriter because of his super sweet Las Vegas bachelor party tips, his reality TV knowledge, and his ability to repeatedly drop the same tired references from the same five or six movies into columns that use sports as a backdrop for stories about his family
Of course, that wasn't my biggest takeaway from Thursday's game. Like always, the Kings got their asses kicked in all three fights. I grew up watching Terry O'Reilly, Stan Jonathan, John Wensink, Wayne Cashman, Al Secord and everyone else on the Big Bad Bruins, a team that fought so much, they even climbed into the MSG stands once to fight Rangers fans. The Bruins always know how to scrap; it's been that way for my entire life, and really, you couldn't have it any other way in Boston.
Last sentence sounds like it was lifted from a Dan Shaugnessy column. May you and him both contract Crohn's disease. ALSO: TOM BRADY STOPPED WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS EVERY YEAR, SO HE'S NOT ONE OF US ANYMORE!
So it's been disorienting to watch the Kings keep getting beaten up. Thursday night, Joe Thornton pounded Drew Doughty so relentlessly that we were watching it the same way Apollo Creed's wife watched the Drago fight.
Wait, what was I just saying about repeatedly dropping in references from the same five or six movies?
Was it a coincidence that the Sharks rallied back from a 3-1 hole after winning those three fights? Maybe, maybe not.
"Was it a coincidence that the Sharks rallied back from a 3-1 hole after winning those three fights? Maybe, maybe not." - some asshole who wrote a 4000 word column about how meaningful it was to hear Coldplay rocking a live show on Hollywood Boulevard the evening of the first Jimmy Kimmel live taping
The Kings have a well-balanced team with an outstanding goalie, and they chase the puck pretty relentlessly (at least lately). But you can push them around, and if you want to make a cheap run at Kopitar, Quick or anyone else, you definitely don't have to worry about someone making you pay. After sitting through half of their home games this season, that's their biggest flaw (that I can see, anyway).
Someone with stronger analytical skills might see that the Kings scored the second fewest goals in the league this season and arrive at a different conclusion, but you could be right. Another strong nominee? Too many division championship banners!
For instance, the Bruins
"Let me tell you about my night at the Kings/Sharks game. For instance, the Bruins [robble robble robble]" - some asshole who has about 50 million Twitter followers hanging on his every word just in case he drops a hot gambling tip, and who also routinely finishes under .500 against the spread in picking NFL games over the course of a season
Nobody captures their identity better than Dustin Penner, their frustrating 6-foot-3 forward who's evolved into something of a whipping boy for the Kings faithful. One of the biggest guys on the team, Penner barely throws checks, much less punches. Every time he wades into the corner and goes through the motions of not hitting someone, you hear this chorus of pissed-off "COME ON, PENNER!" hisses coming from every direction. I always want him to do well, just because it's funny when he scores and the fans instantly flip that switch and pretend to be Penner fans again. But if you're trying to win the Cup? You need less Penners and more Ryane Clowe.
Clowe has played his whole career in San Jose. During that time (the last six seasons) they have made the playoffs every season, and twice been the #1 seed in the West. They've also never gotten closer to the Cup than last year's 4-1 conference finals loss. In 2009 they won the President's Trophy and promptly lost in six games in the first round. Not to say it's Clowe's fault or something, I just thought Bill's analysis was funny.
You know who summed it up best? My 6-year old daughter,
Of course she did! I knew we weren't going to get through the whole article without hearing about some poor sap who has to spend time with Bill because they have the same blood.
who has somehow attended a whopping 14 Kings games this season and wants to marry Anze Kopitar. (I wish I were making that up.)
Brendan Fraser is offended on Kopitar's behalf.
We were watching the Zamboni drive around between the second and third periods last night when she suddenly piped up, "Hey, daddy, why doesn't someone teach the Kings how to fight?" Let's hope that doesn't become the epitaph for their 2012 season.
The real story if that ends up happening? Not enough Bruins on the team.