This year was the first time the Kings and Ducks made the playoffs in the same year. Unfortunately for fans of both SoCal teams, the Sharks and Predators knocked out the southern California teams in six games each. Before tonight’s game, I felt pretty strongly that if the Kings weren’t going to win a game in front of their fans and play well in a home game they should have had the decency to lose the series against the Sharks in San Jose. I have to say that after tonight’s performance by the Kings I think it’s good that the Kings gave their fans this game to remember. Their previous playoff games at home in 2011 were horrible performances. The Kings looked terrible in games 3 & 4 once the Sharks pulled Niemi when the Kings started with a 4-0 lead in game three. Tonight, the Kings didn’t win, so clearly their fans didn’t leave happy. However, the Kings played really well and fans were able to leave tonight knowing that their favorite team tried to win the game and closed out the post season playing pretty well.
The performance of the home team at Staples Center in the playoffs so far this year didn’t keep the Kings from selling out Staples Center tonight, but the game was only sold out to the normal capacity (18,118) with no standing room sales. The fans in attendance did see the best home playoff performance the Kings had this year, so it was definitely worth the expense.
Should the Kings have scored on their 5 minute power play? No question. However, the Kings scored two power play goals in the game, which definitely wasn’t common for them. Their power play needs work and it was terrible last year, too. If the Kings don’t think about reorganizing their special teams coaching during the off season, I’ll be pretty stunned. Their penalty kill remained great in the playoffs (perfect on the road and strong at home), but the Kings’ power play was horrible in the regular season and post season.
The Kings had chances to take over this series and beat the Sharks, but didn’t seize their opportunities to succeed. A lot of that is surely due to the mostly young team. They got more playoff experience this year and hopefully that and a reorganization of their power play will help them in 2012. Not capitalizing on the five minute power play is just one time the LA team passed on chances to survive this round of the playoffs. Not scoring on that power play definitely cost the Kings the game, but if they’d scored on many other chances or taken shots on many of their other opportunities, it may not have come down to an overtime situation. Drew Doughty explained that “No one in here wanted to lose today, obviously, and we fully believe we could have won it, that’s why we’re so disappointed.” That’s certainly the most frustrating thing for the Kings’ fans, too. They see the potential of the Kings and wish the team could get to the point where they reach it. Even without Kopitar in the lineup, the Kings matched up well against the Sharks. Maybe that’s a sign that they can really build on what they learned this year and make it farther in the 2012 playoffs. Time will tell… For now, the only California team moving to the next round is the northern California team – the San Jose Sharks.
Tags: Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, fans, Hockey, Kings, NHL, penalty kill, playoffs, potential, power play, sellout, Sharks, special teams, Staples Center
Tonight’s game at the Honda Center in Anaheim was definitely exciting at times. Ducks fans got to see Bobby Ryan score one of the most amazing goals, but at the end of the first period their team was behind, they were tied after two periods, gave up the lead with just 36 seconds to go in the third period (with Shea Weber’s goal), and lose just only 1:57 into the first (and only) overtime period. Clearly, it would have been worse for the home fans if they’d had to wait until double overtime like the Lightning and Rangers fans (who lost to the Penguins and Capitals respectively). I’m sure that’s little comfort to the announced SRO sellout crowd of 17,385 (definitely the most full I’ve seen Honda Center this year). They were surely feeling good about their team with under a minute to go in the third period and then had to see their team collapse before their eyes.
Instead of being proud of a goal that will surely be played even on sports broadcasts that normally ignore the NHL, Bobby Ryan was upset by the heartbreaking loss. When asked about his amazing goal, Ryan explained “he had no stick, so he was a little vulnerable” and how Ryan himself didn’t have a lot of speed, so he tried to cut back as many times as possible and was a little lucky that he got it up over his pad, but “it’s kind of a moot point now.” Bobby also said you don’t have time to sulk at this time of year, since you have to prepare for the next game.
Good news for Ducks fans is that their team has won every other game so far of the post season, so it seems odds are pretty good that their team will be back at Honda Center for game seven Tuesday night. The down side is that the Ducks have been winning the even games and if they continue to only win even numbered games, they’ll lose the series to the Predators in seven games. In order to move on to the next round, the Ducks must win two games in a row. They need to win in Nashville Sunday (3pm Pacific) and then win again at home Tuesday. Like all hockey fans with teams still in the playoffs, all Ducks fans can do is hope and wait to see what will happen to their team.
Tags: Bobby Ryan, Capitals, Ducks, fans, highlights, Hockey, Honda Center, Lightning, NHL, Penguins, playoffs, Predators, Rangers, sellout, Shea Weber
After starting out okay, going down 3-0, and coming back to end the second period 3-2 after using their timeout to their advantage and seeming to turn things around, the Kings appeared to completely give up in the third period tonight at Staples Center in LA against the Sharks. Kings fans are surely still hoping to see their team again on Monday, but most fans I talked to were saying goodbye to their friends around them and their team for the season. They know the odds of the Kings turning things around are pretty slim at this point. They’re down 3-1 in the series and played horribly in their two games at home. Now, San Jose gets to host Saturday night’s game and the odds of them allowing the Kings to win there are slim.
When breaking down tonight’s game, Coach Terry Murray was able to make most of the game sound better than it looked. Positive spin is clearly his job – especially with the media. He pointed out that they killed off a 5 on 3 and “really liked our competition to make it a 3-2 game.” Murray did go on to say, “And then whatever happened in the third with giveaways, turnovers, lost face offs- that’s sometimes a hard thing to explain.” Hard to explain is probably an understatement for the announced standing room only crowd of 18,234 and the Kings fans at home.
Every home crowd deserves to see their team win in person during the playoffs. Unfortunately, it seems like Kings fans might have to wait until 2012 to see the Kings win a playoff game at Staples Center.
Tags: fans, Hockey, Kings, NHL, playoffs, sellout, Sharks, Staples Center, Terry Murray
Tonight’s game in LA was beyond disappointing for the Kings fans (18,216 sellout crowd with standing room only announced and unlike the Honda Center for the first two Ducks playoff games, Staples Center was packed). The Kings lost game one to the Sharks 3-2 after coming back from the very early Sharks goal. They bounced back from that to shut out the Sharks in San Jose Saturday night winning 4-0. They scored 2:26 & 2:39 into the first period tonight, ended the first period up 3-0, and even scored 44 seconds into the second period. The Kings scored eight unanswered goals after losing in overtime in game one. Then… they collapsed, hit the wall, stopped playing hard enough, … whatever you want to call it, the Kings had an embarrassing loss at home and many fans are (rightfully) upset with their team.
After the fourth goal in tonight’s game, the Sharks pulled goaltender Antti Niemi and apparently he took the Kings’ mojo and will with him. The Kings scored only one goal against Antero Nittymaki, who got his first win of the series, and allowed 5 goals in regulation to end the second period tied at 5 goals each. The Kings seemed to stop the bleeding when they answered the Sharks’ third goal with their fifth, but they allowed two more goals before that period ended and were quite simply outplayed. The Sharks looked like they had extended power plays. Though coach Terry Murray was happy with the way the Kings pulled themselves together for the third period, the only really good thing that can be said of the period is that the Kings allowed no goals against.
Unlike the regular season, where the Kings could do their best to survive five minutes of four on four overtime to win in the shootout (where goaltender Jonathan Quick was undefeated, 10-0), the playoffs don’t have a skills competition. Playoff hockey is 5 on 5 in 20 minute periods that become sudden death starting with the first overtime. TV timeouts are eliminated and intermissions get a bit shorter, but the game remains a real hockey game until a goal is scored. Devin Setoguchi scored the game winning overtime goal just 3:09 into the first overtime. On the bright side, since their team lost, at least the Kings fans were spared an agonizing 3 overtime game that ends with the same disappointment, but includes decreased sleep and a lot more disappointment.
Coach Terry Murray said you had to give the Sharks credit for their power play goal in the second period, “but outside of that, we did this to ourselves… we get caught out for extended shifts… you’re exhausted, you’re getting rattled…” It’s good that Murray acknowledged that the Kings brought the loss on themselves, since perhaps that means he’ll be able to address that problem with the Kings tomorrow, so they can come back from this demoralizing loss at home to win game four Thursday at Staples Center and re-tie the series.
There are a ton of stats (mostly not favorable) about teams (and the Kings specifically) who lose game three of a seven game NHL playoff series and go down two games to one. I’ve always thought those stats (even if they include the same teams from the year before, since there are always some changes from year to year) are as useless as knowing what numbers have hit recently in roulette or the recent coin flip stats. How the team performed when Wayne Gretzky was in the lineup is irrelevant. This team is a completely different team and only they can decide how they’ll play Thursday.
Regardless of what happens in the series, it was nice to see a southern California team properly celebrating the playoffs. The Kings do more for the first round of the playoffs than the Ducks did during the Stanley Cup Finals the year they won the Cup. The Kings had a DJ, live pep band, temporary tattoos, a beer garden, and other booths set up outside. They had The Briggs (who sing their theme song “This is LA”) perform inside before the game to get the fans into the game and after the second goal of the night, I can’t remember hearing Staples Center so loud before. I’m sure the “Frenzy on Figueroa” comeback win against the Red Wings in 2001 was louder and I was there, but it’s hard to remember the arena being that loud before. Kings fans are hoping their faithfulness and support will be rewarded Thursday and they’re sure to fill Staples Center with another SRO sellout crowd. Perhaps this time, the home crowd will be happier when they leave.
Tags: Antero Nittymaki, Antti Niemi, fans, Frenzy on Figueroa, Holiday, Honda Center, Jonathan Quick, Kings, NHL, playoffs, sellout, Sharks, standing room, Stanley Cup, Staples Center, Terry Murray, Wayne Gretzky
The Anaheim Ducks didn’t really have much playoff intensity when the 2011 playoffs opened for them on Wednesday. Their fans were certainly wondering what happened to their league leading scorers and even what happened to the Nashville Predators – known more for their defense than offense. Friday night, the Ducks showed their fans that they DO remember how to show up for the playoffs and started with two power play goals (one 5 on 3, one 5 on 4) at 5:24 and 6:02 of the first period. They were the only goals scored that period, but at least Ducks fans had seen their team score a goal against the Predators in the post season without a two man advantage. I’m sure they were hoping their team would work up to an even strength goal at some point. The Ducks’ first even strength goal of the 2011 playoffs came almost halfway through their second game when Bobby Ryan scored his first goal of this year’s playoffs. His second of the playoffs was the empty net goal securing the win for the Ducks.
Ducks fans breathed a sigh of relief as their team proved they were capable of scoring even strength goals against Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne. For some reason, the Ducks like to keep things interesting for their fans and let the Predators get a bit too close for comfort a couple times in the game, but they pulled out the win and managed to keep most of their fans in the arena until the end of the game. The announced sellout crowd, definitely much closer to the 17,174 capacity than Wednesday’s announced sellout, got to celebrate their team’s first playoff win of the year and know they will see their team at least once more at Honda Center this year (for game 5 on Friday, April 22).
In order to move past the Predators and on to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Ducks have to win at least one game in Nashville. They’ll play in Nashville tomorrow at 3pm and Wednesday at 5:30pm, Pacific. Ducks fans are hoping the team they saw Friday is the team that will travel to Nashville.
Tags: Bobby Ryan, Ducks, even strength, Hockey, Honda Center, NHL, Pekka Rinne, playoffs, power play, Predators, sellout
In the first day of the 2011 NHL playoffs, the Ducks were the only home team to lose. The Capitals had to get near the end of the first overtime period to win their game, but the Ducks lost 4-1 to the typically defensive Predators. Nashville was expected to be a good team defensively – especially with Pekka Rinne, one of the best goalies in the NHL, in goal. I don’t think many expected them to score four goals against the Ducks, though. Ellis hasn’t been the best goalie this season. In fact, he’s near the bottom in save percentage, but even if he’d played really well tonight it would have been rough for the Ducks. You can’t win without scoring and the only time the Ducks scored against Rinne was in a 5 on 3 power play. Teemu Selanne scored the Ducks’ only goal.
The only real good thin the Ducks can take out of this is (as Getzlaf pointed out) scoring the one goal means “we know we can get it past him.” The Ducks clearly realize that they don’t just need more traffic in front of the net to score on Rinne. Getzlaf explained that it’s, “not only traffic in front, we’ve gotta get good quality shots to the net… it’s not good enough just to throw them there, we’ve got to put them there with some enthusiasm and get there after the rebounds.
Though a sellout crowd of 17,174 was announced for Honda Center tonight, there were a lot of empty seats and I find it hard to believe the top corner seats were sold – especially since there were even tickets available on Goldstar. One of these days, I’d like to figure out what percentage of the tickets have to be sold before they can donate the rest of the tickets or give them to employees or whatever they do to ensure that they can announce a sellout at a sporting event.
Clearly, the Ducks are ready to move on from the first game and come back ready to take on Rinne and the Predators again on Friday. Hopefully, Honda Center will be more packed on a Friday night, in spite of it being more of a true hockey fan’s matchup.
The Predators were naturally happy about winning the first game away from home and essentially removing the Ducks’ home ice advantage from the equation, but they realize it’s a long series. They’ve just won one of the four games they’d need to win to advance to the next round and the series is far from over.
Tags: attendance, Ducks, fans, Hockey, home ice, Honda Center, NHL, Pekka Rinne, playoffs, power play, Predators, Ryan Getzlaf, sellout, Stanley Cup, Teemu Selanne
The Kings are now 9-2 in the shootout (and their #1 goalie, Jonathan Quick is 9-0) and 24-0-1 when leading after the 2nd period. They also scored two power play goals tonight (both by team captain, Dustin Brown), though their power play had been struggling lately. They’ve moved back into 5th place in the western conference and have 2 games in hand on the 4th place Coyotes, three points ahead of the Kings. The Kings also have back to back wins at home after playing horribly in their first game back after sweeping the recent four game road trip. Willie Mitchell scored a nice goal. Jarret Stoll scored his 7th straight shootout goal. All of this is very good news for the LA Kings fans.
The bad news is that the Kings gave up two leads against the Sharks (one with only 4.1 seconds to go), ended their penalty kill streak at 35, and lose the first tie breaker (wins not counting shootout wins) with everyone. The Kings are also only four points ahead of the 9th place Dallas Stars and being out of the playoffs. As much as the fans and players want to enjoy the playoffs at Staples Center again this year, only one team in the western conference has a guaranteed spot – the Vancouver Canucks have clinched the head of their division and are currently leading the NHL and the race for the President’s Trophy.
In spite of scoring both the Kings’ power play goals and the winning goal in the shootout, Captain Dustin Brown was clearly concerned about the team blowing two leads at the end of regulation tonight, saying it was “definitely not the way we want to do it… blowing two leads really with less than three minutes left or four minutes left.” It may not be the way a team would want to win, but at least the Kings are winning. The game against the Sharks was an exciting one. Both teams even fought hard to try to win in overtime and had decent chances. The sold out crowd at Staples Center definitely found going out in the rain (something southern Californians seem to try to avoid at all costs) and the money spent worth it tonight. I may not be a fan of the shootout (and I can’t see my opinion of it ever changing), but the shootout ending with Dustin Brown scoring the deciding goal was definitely an exciting end to a very intense game in Los Angeles.
The playoff race is definitely going to remain intense until the end of the season. All NHL teams have nine games or less left in the regular season and only ten percent of the teams have secured their playoff spots. No teams are listed as mathematically eliminated on the NHL site yet, but Edmonton and Colorado have been mathematically eliminated in the west. If they won all of their games and no one above them won a single game remaining this season (which is impossible given the schedules and all the teams ahead of them that play each other), the Avalanche finish higher than 11th in the west. (For the record, no one has been mathematically eliminated in the eastern conference.)
Tags: Avalanche, blown lead, Canucks, Coyotes, Dustin Brown, Hockey, Jarret Stoll, Jonathan Quick, Kings, NHL, Oilers, penalty kill, playoffs, power play, sellout, Sharks, shootout, standings, Staples Center, Stars, tie breaker, Willie Mitchell
I’m sure many Kings fans are wondering why they drove through LA traffic to get to Staples Center tonight. Though the announced sellout attendance (18,118) is definitely a stretch and was not all at Staples Center tonight, a lot of fans dealt with LA traffic to watch their team get shut out at home by the Coyotes tonight. I, personally, hadn’t been able to attend a Kings game in 2011 yet, since I was in Pittsburgh for the Winter Classic and then sick. I’m still fighting my cold, but thought I was healthy enough to head to LA tonight. Looking back on that decision, it’s too bad I bothered to drive from Orange County to LA tonight.
I know the Kings and their fans are upset about the call on the first Phoenix goal tonight on the power play. Was the puck above the cross bar when it got hit? Possibly. Did the puck hit Greene’s glove? I’d say definitely not. Could either of those been determined 100% from Toronto (or anywhere else) given the angles one has to review a goal? Sadly, probably not. The angles FSN had didn’t tell us the answer – even when I re-watched them in HD when I got home. Had the goal been called no goal on the ice, they wouldn’t have been able to overturn that, either. I know Dean Lombardi has already spoken out about the call in Toronto and I understand his frustration. However, referees make mistakes on the ice all the time. This situation is one reason I really think there needs to be some sort of device in a puck that can tell you where it is at any given time, including when it’s hit or covered by a goalie’s glove and hidden from view inside the net. In a regular season game like tonight’s in LA, a bad call isn’t a big issue. However, in the playoffs calls can really make a difference in a series and it would be nice to see the NHL address this issue. Puck calls are critical in close games and something needs to be done to ensure the proper ruling can be made.
Everyone can debate whether the 2nd Coyotes goal would have been scored without the potentially bad call on the 1st questionable goal all season. However, the hard fact is that the Kings needed to respond by stepping up their game, not coughing the puck up to allow an unassisted goal against them less than a minute after the call they clearly don’t think is fair. In the end, you can’t win without scoring a goal and the Kings had many power play opportunities they couldn’t convert. One goal against your team shouldn’t be the end of the world – especially less than halfway through a 60 minute game. Most fans know that when a team is winning, all the bounces seem to go their way. When they’re not, the bounces (and the calls) all seem to go against your team. Right now, that’s something the Kings fans are seeing the bad side of again. Sadly, they’ve seen the down side of that a lot the last few years.
Frustration is something all Kings and their fans know very well right now and tonight was definitely no exception. When I talked to Kopitar about the upcoming extended road trip (the Grammy’s are coming to LA, as always at this time of the year), he said looking back to last year it’s satisfying to know that they were able to pull off some wins on the road then and that this year, “There’s no other way, we’re gonna have to do it. If we want to get into a good playoff mix, we’re gonna have to do it on the road.” He went on to say the Kings “definitely have the character, the personnel, the talent” to do it and that they’ll break through eventually. Their fans are certainly hoping it’s soon, since the Kings are running out of time to turn things around this season and everyone knows it. They need to break out of this cycle now.
A side note about the standings and points for overtime losses… The Coyotes have lost 9 games in overtime or shootout situations this season. Until tonight’s game in LA, the Coyotes had actually lost one more game than they’d won (they’d won only 23 games and lost 24). Until they beat the Kings tonight, the Kings had more wins (24) than the Coyotes this season, yet the Coyotes were ranked 6th going into tonight’s game, while the Kings were sitting back in 12th. I’ve never agreed for giving points to a losing team. Perhaps it’s because I grew up with baseball as my main sport and there’s no such thing as getting a point for losing a baseball game – even if it goes to 22 innings. I don’t think one should get rewarded for losing and the difference in the standings between Phoenix and LA illustrate that perfectly.
Tags: Anze Kopitar, Coyotes, Dean Lombardi, fans, frustration, FSN, HD, high stick, Hockey, Kings, Matt Greene, NHL, penalty kill, power play, referees, sellout, Staples Center
In spite of Sidney Crosby scoring his first two goals against Anaheim (in his 5th game against the Ducks), the Penguins couldn’t bounce back after allowing the Ducks (Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, & Saku Koivu) to score the first three goals of the game. The Penguins didn’t do much in the first period and in spite of their intensity improving the second period, they couldn’t get the puck past Hiller until the Ducks had scored three goals against Fleury.
The Ducks sold out the Honda Center for only the second time this season (the first time was the home opener against the Vancouver Canucks) and the arena was pretty full. I guessed a sellout would be announced. There were many empty seats (even in the upper concourse, but the arena was a lot more full than many sellouts I’ve attended at the Honda Center. The Ducks fans outnumbered the Penguins fans in their building, but there were certainly a lot of fans rooting for Pittsburgh in Anaheim last night. “Let’s GO Pens” filled the air quite a few times tonight and was only equaled by the Ducks fans once.
The Penguins have so much fire power that it’s hard to believe they’ve won less than 50% of their games at this point (they’re 6-7-1 in their first 14 games). In fact, with last night’s win the Ducks and Pens have the same record so far this season.
Sidney Crosby said that “both teams want to play physical” and that it was “the nature of the game and probably brought on by both teams.” He also explained that their effort has to be consistent, which is a need I’m sure the Penguins fans have all noticed this season. They’d like to see their team play more consistently and give themselves a chance to win every game. The Penguins will be facing the Coyotes in Phoenix tonight. Their fans are all hoping they’ll come out stronger and play better so they can beat the Coyotes. Phoenix has been struggling a bit this season, too, but the Penguins need to go into the game strong and not like they’re playing an inferior team. The Coyotes are a strong team and they’ll take advantage of the Pens if they don’t start playing with all their energy immediately.
The best thing about the Pens/Coyotes game in Phoenix tonight is that both teams played last night. Too often, the team playing the second game in a back to back game situation is facing a team that got to rest the day before the game. In tonight’s game, both teams played in other cities (the Coyotes in Dallas and Pittsburgh in Anaheim) last night, which is even more fair than if the Coyotes had played in Phoenix last night. Both teams should be about equally tired from playing the night before, making the game a much more even match-up. I’d like to see the NHL try to match up teams in the second game of back to back games more often, though I know arena scheduling is difficult around the entire league.
Tags: Canucks, Coyotes, Ducks, Hockey, Honda Center, Marc-Andre Fleury, NHL, Penguins, sellout, Sidney Crosby, struggling
The Ducks had a successful return home to Honda Center tonight (in front of a reported sellout crowd of 17,174), as they beat the Red Wings 2-1 in game 3, to take the lead in the series 2 games to 1. This series was the hardest one for me to decide who I thought would win and I expected every game to be decided by only one goal. So far, the Ducks are on track to win in 6 (which was my prediction) and have won and lost the games I predicted they would by the numbers of goals I expected.
The Ducks have gotten very little respect in the playoffs this year and though I realize most east coast reporters probably don’t see the Ducks often, they play enough games on the east coast and have gotten far enough in the playoffs by now that a few members of the east coast based media outlets should have had time to catch the Ducks in the playoffs. Their 3OT game on Sunday (starting at just 2 p.m. eastern) even caught the attention of many people I know who rarely watch hockey teams other than their own (playoffs or not). It would seem that those who report hockey might have caught a bit of it, as well.
Those who saw the Ducks play since the trade deadline can’t be all that surprised by their performance in the playoffs so far this year. They may not have predicted that they’d beat the Sharks (I seemed to be one of the few who predicted that one), but they’re not all that surprised to see them in round two leading the Red Wings in the series and playing up to the level of one of the best teams in the playoffs.
Did the Ducks get a little bit lucky tonight with the whistle being blown a bit early as the Red Wings would have scored the tying goal? Definitely. Did Hiller perhaps earn that luck somehow by stopping 45 of the 46 shots he saved with a save percentage of .978? I’d say so. Someone in the press box was complaining that the Red Wings had outshot the Ducks 2-1. However, the Ducks did very well when the Sharks did that and like the games that started the series in San Jose, the Ducks mostly limited the Red Wings to shots Hiller could see easily and stop. Hiller gave a lot of credit to his defense for keeping Detroit from getting too many really good scoring chances where he couldn’t see the puck easily.
In other good news for hockey fans living in southern California who couldn’t get to the game, FSN West HD aired the game live and is currently showing it again (even though the guide says off the air). Clearly the complaints they got in the first round for not airing games in HD while Versus HD was blocked out in the area were taken to heart. The schedules I’ve seen have included HD for all the upcoming games of the series (on FSN, Versus, or both).
Tags: Ducks, fans, FSN, HD, Hockey, Honda Center, Jonas Hiller, playoffs, Red Wings, sellout, Sharks, Versus