Well, with only 8 games left the regular season, it's time to dust off the old Royal Half Los Angeles Kings Playoff Clinching Countdown... or as I like to call it... Did Calgary Lose Tonight?
March into the playoffs? More like limp.
Kings 1, Stars 4, Seed 7th
I should have known something was wrong the minute we walked into Staples Center. There had been plenty of hype leading up this game... and all Kings fans were instructed to wear black to the remaining home games. And then this was put in our hands:
A University of Phoenix sponsored LA Kings canvas bag.
Half Season Ticket Holder Buddy looked at me and said "Maybe we read the Kings site wrong... maybe it's Bag in Black." Little did I know the Kings weren't handing me something to put my latest purchases from Trader Joe's in... no, they were handing me something to put over my head as a Kings fan for these remaining games. Also, as part of the festivities, the LA Kings set up a private confessional booth, where you could share your fondest memories of the Los Angeles Kings... reality tv style.
"I remember the great playoff collapse of '10. Or maybe it was '06 or '04.
It's really hard to recall... there's been so many, you see."
Yes, I realize the Kings are going to make the playoffs for the first time in 7 years. Half Season Ticket Holder Buddy does a good job reminding me of that each day. I've come to terms with it actually. But the Kings sure picked the worst part of the season to be playing their most uninspired hockey. And what's even better than playing uninspired hockey in late March during the middle of a playoff race? A Captain-Coach Fight, that's what!!! From the desk of the Hound...
(on the need for urgency late in the season…)
BROWN: “We need urgency from every aspect of this team. Coaches, players, trainers, we all need to get that mindset. Ultimately, it lies on the players, and that’s the most important thing, but as a group, a team, here, everyone involved, we all need to have the mentality, that urgency, and we haven’t had it. Again, that’s unacceptable.”
(on Brown’s comments about the need for more urgency from everyone…)
MURRAY: “I’ll have to have a talk with him and ask him how the pecking order goes here. I don’t know how to answer that. I don’t have an answer. You’ll have to go talk to him some more. Did he explain any more to you? I don’t know what he means by that.”
Rich Hammond had more quotes from Coach Murray on the Kings recent play... and they went something like this:
Okay, this is what he really said...
"We’re in there right now, and everything that you do is going to be called very, very close. That’s not unusual. … But you guys are going way the wrong way with this game here tonight. Everything was good. We started fine. Everything is fine.”
You know what? I trust Coach Murray. He understands that this Kings ship could sink at any moment. And he'll continue to make his line changes and move Scott Parse, Peter Harold and Dick Clune in and out of the line-up each game... but ultimately Coach Murray knows that the Kings are going to make the playoffs... albeit at a lower seed than he might have thought... and he's got to make sure they stay confident. Sure, the Kings have 3 "games in hand" but if you don't win those games... they don't help you. 8 games left and a Captain and a Coach who are both trying to lead this team into the playoffs. The Kings better get it together over the next few games... otherwise there is a good chance they will end up as the 8th seed in the playoffs. And actually... that may not be the worst match-up. At least Joe Thornton will have an excuse for why he doesn't show up in the playoffs this year.
The good folks over at NBC's Pro Hockey Talk have asked me to chime in on who I think the Los Angeles Kings most frustrating player is. Alexander Frolov? Nah, too easy. Jon Quick? Are you kidding me, have you seen what this team has tried to use for a goaltender before? No, I think my pick for the Most Frustrating King might surprise you... but I'd be curious to hear if you agree or disagree. Fire up those comments, TRH fans! You can check out the article here.