Everything Else

Let us take you back to the spring of 2014. It’s not a happy trip for those of us around here, but it’s necessary. The Kings and Blackhawks played perhaps the best playoff series since The Great ’05 Lockout. The Kings come out on top by a pubic hair. They go on to destroy the Rangers for their second Cup in three years.

You might think they would have taken a close look at how they did that. You might think they’d want to keep replicating what they actually did on the ice, not what they did in between their own ears. You’d be wrong. The Kings beat the Hawks that spring by playing the Hawks’ game better than the Hawks. They were fast. They were dynamic. They scored a ton. They simply overpowered the Hawks on most nights of that series. Corey Crawford was helpless (so was Jonathan Quick, to be fair) to do anything about it. You may not see a series of that raw power again…until the Jets-Sharks West Final this spring, obvi.

We can demonstrate it better. They averaged 2.78 xGF/60 in that playoff run of ’14. That was a boost from 2.37 from the regular season. They averaged more attempts and shots, as well. Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, Marian Gaborik, et all were skating everywhere.

They haven’t been above that 2.37 mark in the four seasons since. First Darryl Sutter, and then John Stevens returned the Kings to their plodding, simplistic ways that their players hated. And in a league that gets faster and faster, the Kings are getting left behind.

Check out some of the acquisitions since that Cup win, both from Dean Lombardi and Rob Blake (or Robb Lake, if you prefer): Milan Lucic, Vinny Lecavalier, Kris Versteeg, Luke Schenn, bringing back Rob Scuderi, Dion Phaneuf, Nic Dowd, Jarome Iginla, Devin Setoguchi, and an aging Ilya Kovalchuk. What about any of these names suggest faster and skilled? Or even smarter? The Kings seem to be playing a game that’s from 2002.

Moreover, since the 2011 draft, here are the NHLers the Kings have produced: Andy Andreoff, Nick Shore, Colin Miller, Tanner Pearson, Paul LaDue, Adrian Kempe, and that’s it. Say what you want about where the Hawks are now, but they’ve produced actual prospects. They’ve traded most of them, but at least they exist.

The Kings mistake was falling in love with the idea of what people thought the Kings were. They won the ’12 Cup on the back of Jonathan Quick with a heavy roster. It also didn’t hurt that the entire Western Conference that year took a step back. The Hawks were still reloading, the Sharks fell off their peak, the Canucks were a paper tiger beating up on a horrid division, and the Wings were done. It was ripe for the Kings to run through, which they did.

They fell in love with this image of an atom-smashing, meat-off-the-bone, thundering herd of a team that hockey media was only too happy to play up. But they were only that once. 2013 saw them get rolled by the Hawks in the Conference Final, and realize they couldn’t be viking warriors if they were going to win. They set out to be the Hawks. And they did it. And then for some reason, forgot all about it.

And now they’re on the precipice of a great fall. Not only is their window shut, there isn’t a path to open a new one. Kyle Clague won’t by himself. By the time they can summon another good team, Kopitar and Doughty will be well into their 30s. Carter already is. How do you extricate yourself from this? Being so bad that Kopitar and Doughty ask out? Who wants those contracts? The Kings dinner for the next 10 years is going to be a lot of salary for players moved elsewhere.

But banners hang forever. It’s a trade most fanbases would make. Perhaps all. The crash doesn’t have to be so hard, though.

 

 

Game #20 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

oldschool at king

Game Time: 8:00PM CDT
TV/Radio: NBCSN, CBC (Anglo), RDS (Franco), WGN-AM 720
Let Me Ride: The Royal Half, Jewels From The Crown, Battle of California

After less than 48 hours since Game 5 and its breakneck pace, the Kings, Hawks, their coaching staffs, upper management, fans, and the general sporting public have barely still all barely caught their collective breath. And there’s still the absolutely terrifying prospect that tonight will be as equally insane, if not moreso.

Everything Else

216px-Los_Angeles_Kings_Crown_Logo.svg vs oldschool

Game Time: 7:00PM Central
TV/Radio: NBCSN, TSN (Anglo), RDS (Franco), WGN-AM 720
Murray’s Revenge: The Royal Half, Jewels From The Crown, Battle of California

While the common perception was that the Hawks were outplayed on Sunday afternoon despite having a far longer layoff than the put-upon Kings coming fresh off their exhausting 6-2 carpet bombing of the Ducks in Game 7 of the previous series, it doesn’t change the fact that the Hawks have a 1-0 series lead. Though given that this iteration of the Kings has already erased 3-2 and 3-0 series deficits this post-season alone, it remains up for debate just how much that will matter in the grand scheme of things.

Everything Else

216px-Los_Angeles_Kings_Crown_Logo.svg vs oldschool

Game Time: 7:00PM Central
TV/Radio: NBCSN, TSN (Anglo), RDS (Franco), WGN-AM 720
Murray’s Revenge: The Royal Half, Jewels From The Crown, Battle of California

While the common perception was that the Hawks were outplayed on Sunday afternoon despite having a far longer layoff than the put-upon Kings coming fresh off their exhausting 6-2 carpet bombing of the Ducks in Game 7 of the previous series, it doesn’t change the fact that the Hawks have a 1-0 series lead. Though given that this iteration of the Kings has already erased 3-2 and 3-0 series deficits this post-season alone, it remains up for debate just how much that will matter in the grand scheme of things.

Everything Else

centerpiece-king vs oldschool

Game Time: 7:00PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, NBCSN, TSN2, WGN-AM 720
Deeez Nuuuts: The Royal Half, Jewels From The Crown, Battle of California

It’s fitting that the Hawks should close out the calendar year of 2013 against whom they began it on January 19th, when they made a defiant statement shortly after the Kings’ overdue banner ceremony. Since then, the Hawks ripped through the Kings in the Western Conference Final on their way to a banner ceremony of their own. And though the teams tend to take considerably different routes during the regular season, it seems as though they’re once again on a collision course to meet in the spring. But they’ll need to resolve matters on a frigid Chicago night first.

Everything Else

AltLogo at centerpiece-king

Game Time: 8:00PM Central
TV/Radio: NBCSN, TSN (Anglo), RDS (Franco), The Loop 97.9 FM
All I Wanted Was A Pepsi: The Royal Half, Jewels From the Crown, Battle of Cali

And now the scene shifts westward with the Hawks taking a 2-0 series lead onto Figueroa Ave. Sunday’s Game 2 loomed large at the time, as the Kings have yet to lose on home ice this post season, and have won 14 straight at Staples. Based on that, this series is still far from over, as it could very well be tied heading into the weekend. Had the Kings taken one on United Center ice, this could very quickly have looked like an imminent 3-1 hole for the second straight series. But that, they say, is why they play the games.

Everything Else

centerpiece-king vs AltLogo

Game Time: 4:00PM Central
TV/Radio: NBCSN, CBC (Anglo), RDS (Franco), WGN-AM 720, The Loop 97.9FM
Mommy’s Little Monster: The Royal Half, Jewels From The Crown, Battle of Cali

In the next of a series of seemingly preordained matchups in the West, the Kings and Blackhawks will meet for the first time since 1974 in the post season for the right to ignore the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl. Both of these teams have been on similar trajectories after bottoming out in the middle of the previous decade, and already have their names etched in silver recently (as you might have heard). And though this is the first meeting between these iterations of these two teams of consequence, it hardly feels like it will be the last.

Everything Else

Everyone is tired: LA Times/Chicago Tribune

Composure is key: Comcast

Western Conference Finals by the numbers: HockeeNight

A “Regular” Dog apparently is a good luck charm: PuckDaddy

A Tender subject: ESPN Chicago

Ready for more moments: Verdi

He is capable: Daily Herald

One day I will sit down and teach myself advanced metrics: Puck Prospectus

While his analysis has gotten better lest we forget his track record:The Hockey Writers

The two league system which must exist:Winnipeg Sun