Since the NHL Lockout ended, my friend Clyde and I have had a gentlemen's bet when it came to the Buffalo Sabres and the Los Angeles Kings... which ever team had the worse record... that fan would pay the other a dollar per point for the difference in points. Needless to say over the past few seasons I had payed out to Clyde a considerable amount of money. (I'm not sure if I ever paid Clyde in full or rather have just bought him beers every time I've seen him.) This 2009-2010 NHL season however, the gap between the Sabres and Kings might be small enough to be paid out with a 5 dollar bill. The last time the Kings had played the Sabres at the Staples Center it was December of 2007 and the Kings won 8-2 (which happened to be Jonathan Quick's first NHL victory.) Clyde left after the 2nd period. The next season the Kings were embarrassed by the Sabres in Buffalo during a 5-0 shutout. Jason LaBarbera took the loss in that game and interestingly enough... the next game began the Jon Quick era as full time Los Angeles Kings goaltender and savior. So when Clyde joined myself and Half Season Ticket Holder Buddy (plus brand new Kings Superfan Matt!) in Section 217 on a rainy Thursday night at Staples Center... was he there to see the Kings battle it out against his favorite NHL team, the Buffalo Sabres? Of course not! He was there to celebrate Armenian Heritage Night!
I'm not kidding... it was a rainy night at Staples.
Kings 4, Sabres 3
At least at last years Armenian Heritage Night... there was actually an Armenian player on the ice. And at this years Russian Heritage Night... at least there was a Russian player on the ice (if you count what Alexander Frolov has been doing the last few weeks as actually playing.) So even though there wasn't anyone of Armenian Heritage anywhere on the ice... the Kings did an excellent job of making sure the great culture of Armenia permeated all throughout Staples Center.
There were fans in Team Armenia jerseys.
There were Armenian dudes flirting with the Ice Girls.
There was Patrick O'Neal.
But in addition to the celebration of one of the former republics of the Soviet Union, there was also a Silent Auction going on as Kings fans had the opportunity to bid on jerseys worn in a recent celebrity game that was played at Staples Center. And yes, fans of The Royal Half... I almost bought this jersey:
I'll get you someday game-worn Jamie Storr jersey!
The price was too high for me... so I figured if I'm going to drop a lot of money to get a celebrity-game worn jersey, I should probably get it from one of my favorite current Kings.
Free with every purchase... the Jim Fox ringtone!
Well, Coach Murray busted out his now patented Coach Murray Line Combinations of Fun™and the latest incarnation is a 1st (?) line of Anze Kopitar, Wayne Simmonds and Brad Richardson. Look, even at one point during the game I leaned over to Half Season Ticket Holder Buddy and said "wow... I kinda like that Kopitar, Simmonds, Richardson line." But let's be honest here... it's a fun, happy line for a few games... but it's not the answer to the Kings scoring problems. Elite NHL teams have an Elite 1st line. And this ain't it. But what a great game... and what a great 3rd period comeback for the Kings. It had just about everyone in the building yelling and screaming... well almost everyone.
The Kings just narrowly won this game in a shootout. How narrowly you ask? This narrowly.
So the Kings complete the Eastern Conference Trifecta by beating the Sabres, the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins... all teams that have been at the top 3 in the East most of the season. This stat basically proves the Kings can beat any Eastern team in the Stanley Cup Finals.
"Excuse me... you mind? We're trying to have a private moment here."
So the Kings finish up the Homestand to End All Homestands at a disappointing 3-4. And what a better way to prove your worth as a team than to go on a 5 game Eastern road trip in the dead of winter. Oh... and your first game on the trip? It's against the Detroit Red Wings aka the team that is breathing down your neck for the final playoff spot.
"Dammit Howard... stop breathing down my neck already!"
Here is the thing that my friends don't understand about my passion for the Los Angeles Kings. I want to watch each and every moment of each and every game. (And not just for screen-grab purposes.) So when Half Season Ticket Holder Buddy and I go to a friend's co-ed baby shower (yes, apparently in Los Angeles these things are all the rage) and a friend says "Hey guys! I got the bar to put the Kings-Red Wings game on!"... it actually kinda screws up our Kings obsessive-compulsive ways. So instead of screaming and jumping around my house while watching the game on Tivo later that night... I saw the Kings beat the Red Wings amongst most of my good friends... at least I was told most of my good friends were there... Half Season Ticket Holder Buddy and I were busy watching the game.
I'll save the game recaps for the fine Red Wings fans at Winging It In Motown and Babcock's Death Stare. But check out this one glorious stat from Saturday nights game. When 1st line (!) left winger Brad Richardson scored in the 3rd to put the Kings in the lead, the Detroit Red Wings had been 17-0-4 when leading after 2 periods.
The Kings head to Toronto on Tuesday to take on the Brian Burkes of Ontario. And when the Kings head to Canada it can only mean 2 things... no Fox Sports West HD Coverage... and complete Canadian Media Masterbation of Drew Doughty!