“Kings aren’t good enough, don’t deserve bounces” — Guess who?

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.

Helene Elliott: Los Angeles Kings aren’t good enough to get job done in Game 4

(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.

Check.

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!

 
  • Sam

    I guess having the three best play-by-play men ever means we have to deal with bad writers. Where’s Jim Murray when you need him…

    • DougS

      Besides Murray, let’s not forget Scot Ostler, who bolted for The National. And Tim Kawakami, who left for the San Jose Mercury after he got passed over for the columnist spot that went to JA Adande.

      • sstephen17

        I was always a fan of Mike Downey back in the day.

        • DougS

          Yes, Downey was good, too. I think he’s writing somewhere else now; I forget exactly where.

  • USHA#17

    Hey, the Kings lost.  They couldn’t connect passes, made bad decisions and started to revert to Terry Murray perimeter hockey.   Quick snoozed, the refs called a bad game overall and the Kings lost.  It happens.  Big deal.  Go back to Sutter hockey and we’re fine.

    I imagine (I hope) at some point over the next week LA will be able to eek out at least a 1-0 win.  After that, if anyone doesn’t think they won’t lose a game or three to NY or NJ then they’re in for disappointment. 
     

    • Matt George

       I like the Kings in 5 over either one of those 2.

      Maybe 6 … maybe.

  • Uni

    Yes, a blown-call, a lapse of attention, and a ricochet is their identity. The Coyotes, when on their game, are basically cockroaches. They play to survive, blocking shots, relying on Smith to be their best player, and forcing shots to the outside. This can frustrate other teams, which leads to mistakes. Mistakes lead to bounces and Coyotes cash in on these moments that they wait the whole game for, eeking out ugly, opportunistic wins in the process.

    So that said, I think the Kings will need a bit more speed to set up shots just a bit quicker before the Coyotes can collapse into shot-blocking position. I feel like they tried to adjust this way yesterday but ended up just getting some harmless perimeter shots off. So hopefully they can couple increased speed with a more aggressive forecheck. I’d also say that getting a lead early is huge. Though they battled back from the PHX lead in Game 3 quite quickly, I don’t see the Coyotes being very good at playing catch-up. Cockroaches usually aren’t good at overcoming so much as they are, like I said, surviving.

  • m_and_m

    ” I have come to appreciate her elusive charms?”  Whoo, frightening.  Actually she has been a lot more positive lately (I mean, how could she not be?) and at times positively effusive.  I suspect Kings may be buying more advertising and she has been told to tone down the snark.

    My only gripe is when she, or any of the Times writers who have never paid for a ticket in their lives presume to speak for the fans, as in “Dean Lombardi has worn out his welcome in LA”.  Sez who?  AEG?  The Kings front office?  Or is she speaking for the great unwashed among the Kings ticket buyers?  Actually Plaschke is the worst at this.

    • m_and_m

       Oh and also you should remember that the writers don’t usually choose the title headlines for their pieces.  Usually that’s done by some clueless copywriter in the boiler room.

    • DougS

      If I had to psychoanalyze what’s going on with the LAT’s own Gladys Kravitz, I would guess that she’s effusive about the Kings when they’re winning because it’s fun to ride a team’s coattails when they’re as hot as the Kings have been even if you’re an “objective” observer and not a fan, and also because it just makes you look stupid to snark. However, the moment that they show weakness, as happened on Sunday, then the stiletto comes out again because it’s just too much fun to snark. In a sense, she’s more like an entertainment reviewer than a sports reporter, and all reviewers know that it’s easier to write negative stuff than it is to be positive.