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.