It is an LA Kings tradition that, following a loss, we snuggle up with Helene Elliott’s prickly verdict. The recipe for these articles is usually: start with a stylized but snarky opening condemnation, then alternate actual quotes from the judged with your own grumpy asides. Top it off with a curtly dismissive headline, indicating how disappointed you are. The effect is that we — the fans, previously disappointed and/or let-down by our team — now project those feelings onto the wily Helene, and criticize her for what are fundamentally ham-fisted exaggerations of our own fears. It’s purgative, and I have come to appreciate her elusive charms.
(I thought the Kings lost because (1) Justin Williams was mistakenly called for goal-tender interference, (2) on the ensuing power-play, Jonathan Quick didn’t pay attention and negated an icing, leading directly to a goal, (3) Smith made a handful of saves that could have gone either way, especially on chances by Richards, Lewis and Brown, and (4) the Kings, being a young team, are still nervous playing at home. But now I see that the Kings just “aren’t good enough to get the job done.)
If success had dulled the Kings’ memory of what it felt like to lose, if eliminating the Vancouver Canucks in five games, sweeping the St. Louis Blues and taking the first three games of the Western Conference finals against the Phoenix Coyotes had made them forget how deeply a defeat can sting, it all came back to them Sunday afternoon.
On the day they could have clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup finals, they instead had to pack for another trip to the desert to face a team that rediscovered its identity in a scrappy 2-0 victory at Staples Center.
A blown-call, a lapse of attention, and a ricochet. That’s their identity? Good luck replicating that.
“We were good. But good’s not going to get it done around this time of the year,” Kings defenseman Matt Greene said. “We’ve got to be better than we were tonight. They came out flying and we weren’t matching their speed.”
They didn’t match the Coyotes in any area that mattered Sunday, including an 0-for-6 power-play performance that left them two for 23 with the man advantage in this series.
See, she’s not having any of it. It’s not just “matching their speed”, Matt. But wait, what about shots?
Their 36-21 edge in shots was deceptive because most of their efforts came from the perimeter and almost none were generated off rebounds.
Hey, welcome back “shot mentality”! I almost hesitate to point out that 36 shots that are mostly not off rebounds is a hell of a lot of shots. I saw several excellent scoring chances that just didn’t convert. It happens.
(For comparison, here’s Pierre LeBrun’s article using the same interviews. Much more balanced, when compared to Helene’s home-town bias. The thing I can’t figure out is, why is her bias backwards?
“That was Coyote hockey,” Phoenix winger Ray Whitney said after his team’s persistence and pluck extended the Kings’ nearly two-decade wait for a conference title. [...][The Kings] [...] know they may come to regret giving the Coyotes even the smallest shred of hope to nurture into something bigger.
Excellent, sowing the seeds of ruin.
“They played really well. It’s a good lesson for us,” Kings winger Dustin Penner said. “We got the bounces, for the most part, up until tonight.”
They got no favors or bounces Sunday but didn’t deserve any in their first defeat since April 18 [...].
Right. And all those bounces that went our way in the three wins (think of all those pucks that bounced past Quick and somehow stayed out) went our way because Phoenix didn’t deserve the bounces? THEY’RE BOUNCES. The puck didn’t go off Scuderi’s (or Penner’s or whoever’s) stick and into the net because the Kings didn’t deserve a better bounce.
Or is this Newton’s undiscovered Fourth Law?
Ah, purged. I feel better already. Thanks!