Whether the Kings can beat the Sharks tonight will not depend on whether the second line wakes up, Kopitar can hit the net, Quick/Doughty/Simmonds return to pre-nightmare form, or anything else so rational. My theory is: they will win tonight if they don’t freak out.
I think the big problem with game #1 — which I basically refuse even to acknowledge as a real game — was nerves, and nerves can really only affect the outcome of a game if you’re already in a psychologically fragile place, which the Kings are — due mostly to the fact that they have been asserting all summer that they are on the verge of not-sucking and they suddenly realized on Saturday that this was the time to prove they don’t suck, so naturally they thought about it and proceeded to suck worse than they ever sucked when they really did suck.
There has always been a tendency with the Kings — going back years — to think that when they’re not scoring they will NEVER SCORE AGAIN and when they are scoring they are going to just keep going that way all the way to the Hall of Fame or the Cup or Nirvana or pick your own metaphor. I guess all teams feel this way to one degree or another, but the Kings seem especially prone to it. It’s basically narcissism combined with extreme psychological fragility. They have fits of daring to think they’re possibly great, all the while unconsciously scouring for evidence that they’re fooling themselves, leading of course to a total meltdown unless they can first be talked out of it by a coach or savvy old veteran.
In other words, the Kings are a toddler.
Anything bad that happens just ruins everything and nothing will ever be good or fun ever again. And while we’re freaking out about this, a second bad thing happens, and we just wish we could go back to the happy time when there was only the first bad thing (“I can’t believe we’re down 2-0, oh CRAP 3-0!??!!). At which point the one or two or three bad things don’t even matter anymore because it’s all about the melt-down.
Which is why the Helene Elliott article from yesterday was so annoying. It was like the parent (I guess she’s more like the teacher with the ruler and the pointer, but whatever) of the toddler turning every isolated event into a symptom of a larger problem. When the solution is to be able to recognize which events are just things that happened (Martinez was nervous) and which ones are things to work on (“no turn backs” — see below). It’s rarely helpful in parenting to tell the toddler, “you’ve got some serious (or even MYRIAD) problems here, kid.” I guess this is why Terry Murray is the coach; because he’s nothing if not calm, and he’s all about patiently addressing only the things that are addressable and only then in very specific corrections. This is also why Terry Murray usually bores me to tears, even though I like him as a coach and am completely in favor of him sticking with the Kings. He’s got the demeanor of your laid-back uncle you talk to before you tell your parents what you did to the car. If he were a 30 year old woman, he’d be a great kindergarten teacher.
I don’t have a cute ending for this post. It’s just something I’m thinking about.