Regal Blue

Kings 4, Ducks 0: In which I cheer loudly at my TV

Posted in Sports by gklarsen on January 15, 2010

There was a time not too long ago when Ducks/Kings games were of exceptional importance.  The Kings, you see, had miserable teams, terrible records and no real shot at winning anything.  The Ducks represented redemption.  If we could beat the Ducks, those awful Anaheim Ducks, then the season would be okay.  We can say we beat those God-Damned front-running fans in Anaheim (not that they noticed since they left midway through the second.  Meeting tomorrow.  You understand.)

So imagine how fantastic this rivalry would be if it were also relevant!  And that, my friends, is exactly what happened last night.  The Kings had lost their last three by a single goal, garnering no points and falling quickly in the standings.  The Ducks couldn’t buy a win earlier this year but had been coming on strong lately.  Only four points separated us and we’re past the midpoint of the season.  This game…mattered.

The first two periods were much like any other game.  The penalties were limited.  The Kings scored goals but couldn’t always sustain an attack.  The goals looked more like Hiller’s fault than anything else.  JS Giguere replaced him and gave up a sort-of-I-guess-that-counts goal to Wayne Simmonds which was reviewed and upheld.  Sweet.  4-0 at the end of the second.  I’ll take an insurance goal any day.

And lest I forget, Night Train beat up Ryan Getzlaf.  I stood and applauded in my living room.

Turns out we didn’t need it.  Instead of hockey, the Kings and Ducks decided enough was enough and spent 20 minutes beating the hell out of each other.  No goals, forty nine (49) penalty minutes.

In the thrill and bloodlust, it was easy to overlook Jon Quick’s performance.  Kid was on tonight.  It helps to have good and aggressive defense in front of you and Quick took full advantage, stopping 22 shots en route to the shutout.  It’s entirely possible that Anaheim only crashed the net in order to draw fights, but regardless, a shutout is always impressive.  Way to go, Jon.

***

Oh, and Matt Kemp signed a two year extension which doesn’t buy out any free agent years.  Whee.

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Back from vacation!

Posted in Sports by gklarsen on January 11, 2010

Hey kids, I’m back from vacation!

…what?  I didn’t tell anyone I was on break?  I just stopped writing one day?  Dick move on my part.  Well thanks for hanging in there.

Since I’ve been gone, the Kings have sunk down in the playoff rankings.  Something like two points puts us out of the playoff picture, but as The Royal Half mercifully points out, we’re also four points away from being fourth.  Nothing like an eight day layoff in December to screw everything up.  Also we lost a bunch of games, including the last two to the Blues and Red Wings, the latter despite more than fifty shots on goal.

That being said, we have Ryan Smyth back and he doesn’t seem too worse for wear.  Perhaps because of that, Anze is scoring again.  Drew Doughty might be Jesus.  Wayne Simmonds still rules*.  Jon Quick is maybe, just maybe, better than serviceable.  There’s a whole lot to like.  It’s been a real long time since we’ve been able to watch our team simply because it’s good and they’re fun to watch.  There’s nothing worse than watching a team that you know is terrible for maybe one or two players that might be decent one day but you know damn well aren’t going anywhere (see, eg, Dodgers circa 2005, Kings circa last decade and a half).

*I went to go see the Kings practice last week.  Fun stuff.  Met a lot of players.  Wayne Simmonds was all kinds of cool.  Thanks Wayne!

On the Dodger side of things, there’s been nothing to speak of.  There were some rumors going around that the team wanted to sign Matt Kemp to a long term deal, but it looks as though Kemp is wisely going to go year to year.  Wise for him, at least.  Kid will be getting 12 mil by his last arb year.

By now, the big money free agents have signed.  Bay went to the Mets and he’s the perfect example of the player that Minaya likes; past his prime and expensive.  I was surprised to see Holliday end up back with the Cards, especially for that kind of money.  That’s Albert’s money.

Even the Giants have gotten into it a little.  Their latest move was to sign Aubrey Huff to a one year deal worth three mil.  Am I telling you that Brian Sabean signed an over the hill veteran for way more than he’s worth to replace a cheaper in house option?  Why yes I am.  Will wonders never cease?

Oh, and this just in, the Dodgers signed Nick Green to a minor league deal.  Yeah I don’t care either.  If you want a no-hit, good defense shortstop, we already have one.  The difference is that the one we already have is about seven years younger and might actually have some upside left.  It may also be a set up to trade Chin Lung Hu.  We’ll see.

***

And I think that gets us caught up on the major stories.  The Sharks come to Los Angeles tonight.  We’ve handled them very well so far this season, including a very satisfying beating last week.  Will it continue?  Yes, yes it will.  Kings beat Sharks 5-1, goals by Anze, Smyth and Simmonds.

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Kings lose in Vancouver…again. Kings win in Edmonton…again.

Posted in Sports by gklarsen on December 16, 2009

So there’s been some real stuff happening lately.  The Kings lost to Vancouver…again…and managed to snag a victory from Edmonton last night.

Okay seriously, why can’t we beat the Canucks?  Up until recently I was convinced that they were a real good team.  They batted us around every time we played them, so I figured they must be pretty good, right?  Well they’re 10th in the Western Conference but have managed a respectable 19-14 record, with no overtime points.  Henrik Sedin has a ridiculous 42 points, prompting such hacky articles on their websites asking the question “Has Henrik become the new ‘clutch’ Sedin?”*  They have three other guys with at least ten goals.  A 104/85 for and against ratio probably indicates that they should actually have won a few more than they have.  So they’re a decent team.

*If by ‘clutch’ you mean ‘productive’ than I say your answer is a pretty solid yes.  And by the way, haven’t we stopped using the word ‘clutch’ by now?  In baseball, it has become code for “this article has no substance.”  Maybe hockey journalism needs its own Fire Joe Morgan.

The thing is, the Kings just look awful against them.  Every freakin’ time.  In this last misadventure, they managed one goal against Luongo and it’s actually pretty amazing that they got that many.  There was no sustained offense to speak of.  The Kings could barely get it out of their zone.  A patented neutral-zone turnover by Doughty led to a goal and was further indication that the Kings couldn’t get it together.

My point is that LA should at least be able to put up a fight.  The Canucks are thoroughly decent, but not spectacular.  This ain’t Detroit from two years ago, kids.

And on the flip side, the Kings looked pretty mediocre against the Oilers but managed to sneak away with a win, thanks to Sean O’Donnell’s goal.  Who saw that coming, huh?  But it sure came at the right time, as the game was tied leading into the latter half of the third period.  The Kings dodged yet another overtime for two points and now have an even record on the roadtrip.  This is significant because, well, winning on the road is always significant.  But also because this is their last trip without Anze’s boy, Ryan Smyth.   Calgary and Phoenix should be tough games.  The Flames are legitimately good and Phoenix’s Shane Doan more often than not manages to screw us over even though he’s not having such a great season.  So pulling away with at least one win out of four is something to hang on to when Jerome Iginla is completing a hat trick with six minutes left in the second period.

***

Separate post for Juan Pierre?  Yeah.  Separate post for Juan Pierre forthcoming.

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A few quick hits: Rule 5 draft, Kings beat Sharks

Posted in Sports by gklarsen on December 10, 2009

Jon Weisman has the Rule 5 draft nailed down today.  MSTI offers thoughts on it as well.  Me personally?  I know nothing about these guys.  The numbers look good on the players we acquired.  They just happen to be a bit old for the position, ie 22 or so.  Rule 5 is always a bit of a dumpster dive so it fits right in with the Dodgers plan so far this off-season.

Jamie Hoffman, who did so well in the minors last year, is now a Yankee.  I have to believe they did this to put more pressure on Johnny Damon to sign at a lower rate than he originally wanted.  Hoffman would be a good fit on an AL club while his power will be amplified at the new Yankee stadium.

***
I assume everyone is celebrating the Kings win over the Sharks last night.  The highlights were Anze Kopitar’s first goal in 45 games (I’ll check the numbers) and the surprisingly adequate play of Erik Ersberg.  Sure he still looks like he’s 12, but aside from one “what the hell was that” moment, the kid did fine.  Also, Drew Doughty is amazing.

Oh, and Dustin Brown scored the winner in overtime.  My hockey buddy swears that Greene said, “It’s about fucking time, you fucking jackass!” to Brown after he scored.  I hope it’s true because, seriously Dustin, it’s about fucking time.

***

This makes me happy.  Thanks SoSG.

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Finals season means infrequent posting; also, Pierre may soon be gone

Posted in Sports by gklarsen on December 9, 2009

The Kings have been on fire and baseball’s hot stove continues to churn out noteworthy rumors and transactions.  Unfortunately, it also happens to be finals season for this particular law student.  Thus, few posts lately.  My apologies.

***

First things first:  Juan Pierre may be traded after all.  According to John Paul Morosi, via MLBTradeRumors, the Tigers want Pierre and are looking for a third team to complete the deal.  The Dodgers obviously want starting pitching and likely aren’t too interested in any of the Tiger’s train wreck bad contracts.  Bonderman and the ghost of Dontrelle Willis have contracts so bad that they make Pierre look like a bargain.

It feels as though the Dodgers have been trying to get rid of Pierre since they acquired him.  Last year, there was minimal discussion that the White Sox might have been interested but obviously nothing ever came of it.  The rumors this year seem to be more substantial, perhaps because the Dodgers are more serious about unloading him.  Xavier Paul is a significantly better fourth outfield option and after his promising (though injury shortened) performance last year the Dodgers must feel they can go without Pierre as essentially Manny’s back up.

I have to believe that moving Pierre for an overpriced starter will be met with universal acclaim in Dodgerworld.  Now that Schmidt is gone, Pierre remains the most visible relic of Colletti’s poor dealing when he first started GMing after the 2005 season.  Primarily because of that bad contract, he is a lightning rod for scorn amongst the fans.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.  Odds are if you’re reading a Dodger blog, you’ve got an opinion on Juan Pierre and it’s probably not good.  Mainstream media has done a poor job of defending him on the occassions when they’ve tried.  Features about Pierre essentially boil down to what a hard worker he is, what a good guy he is, he sure is good at stealing bases.  Not a good way to defend a player in the Sabermetric age.

Pierre’s departure would probably have more effect on the perception of the team more than the actual results.  Exiled eternally to be a back up going forward, there would undoubtedly be fewer at bats this year than last year.  I’m assuming no one will be suspended for 50 games.  So, getting rid of him would be a symbolic victory more than anything, considering we’ll still have to pay him or another equivalent bad contract.  It may demonstrate Colletti’s emerging skills as a GM.

However, it may also be another symptom of the Great McCourt Schism.  That event may be the greatest motivator and Colletti may be attempting to push Pierre out only if most of the contract can be dismissed too.  Perhaps the pitcher coming in will be one with only a single year left on the contract.

Despite all of this, I think the odds of sending Pierre out of LA remain slim.  It’s a rough contract in a nasty economic climate.  He remains as he always has: a poor OBP, sub par center fielder (not bad in left, according to Fangraphs), with zero power.  Maybe the Tigers overvalue Pierre’s notoriously illusory hotstreak when Manny got suspended.  Maybe Dave Dombrowski digs fast players now that Curtis Granderson is out of town.

More updates as they become available.

***

The Kings have been getting points like crazy lately, capped this week by a win over Jerome Iginla and the Calgary Flames.  Tonight the Kings face off against the Sharks.  It looks like Ersberg will start tonight in place of Jon Quick.  Seems like a strange piece of timing considering that the Sharks score lots of goals and Quick has been downright decent lately.

The big question continues to be the first line.  Kopitar has managed to squeeze a few assists, Williams has scored a couple, but the fact remains that it’s a worrisome drought.  Ryan Smyth is still a week away and it’s safe to assume that he’ll need a game or two to get back to full speed.

This opinion is completely without any sort of objective basis, but it feels like Kopitar has been right there as far as scoring.  He’s getting some chances and it may just be a matter of time before the pucks start to find the net.  Regardless of the reasons, every Kings fan would breathe a huge sigh of relief if Kopitar could knock one in tonight.

Irresponsible prediction:  Kings 4, Sharks 3 – Kopitar and Simmonds score.

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Kings 6, Senators 3: LA fields local High School team, beats Ottawa

Posted in Sports by gklarsen on December 4, 2009

I guess you could say that there’s some positive here.  The Kings didn’t have their best and yet managed to win.  The problem is that they didn’t win because they played better.  They won because Ottawa played even worse.

There were bright spots of course and one can never be too mad about a win.  Randy Jones buried a goal the first minute of the game.  Allegations of sexual offenses aside, he’s a real nice player to have around.  That’s four goals for him in limited playing time.  The question is whether or not he’ll be back on the bench once Scuderi comes back.

Our hero Wayne Simmonds continued his awesomeness.  A penalty shot in the first gave the Kings a two goal lead.  I don’t have much to say about the shot itself except that Simmonds was so in command of the situation that he made it look routine.

The finest moment of the night came in the second period after the aforementioned two goal lead disappeared.  Stoll won a faceoff in the Sen’s zone and pulled it right to Kopitar, who made a nice, easy pass to Doughty who absolutely torched it into the net.  It was a great sequence, and one of the few times in the evening where it looked as though the Kings had actually skated together before.

Also, Justin Williams got two goals in the final minutes.  No one seemed to care, least of all Williams.

But the story for the night is the lousy team play, and rightly so.  The only reason the Kings came out with a victory is because the Senators happened to have a bad night too.  It’s like both pitchers not having their best stuff.  The game turns in to batting practice and whoever manages to have the highest score at the end of nine “wins” the game.  That’s what this game felt like.  Granted, the defense did play a bit better in the third period.  But this game can be chalked up to some good luck in our favor.

Life in Hockeywood is encouraged by the secondary scoring.  There was plenty to be had in this one.  Yet I’m not ready to declare the matter closed just yet.  I’d like to see some secondary scoring against a more unified defense.  A step in the right direction though, no doubt about it.

One thing we both agree on, however:

Wayne Simmonds has become mine and everyone’s favorite player, and not just because he’s scored four goals in the past five games. The way he plays the game with such energy and skill gives Kings fans reason for relief. It’s his work ethic, of constantly pushing and playing that makes him a solid player.

Simmonds has definitely become the player to step up in the absence of the first line.  It’s not surprising either considering how good he played at the end of last year.  Wayne is a real quality guy with all kinds of upside.  This isn’t his 25 goal season, but at this rate it’ll happen as soon as 2010-11.  If that were his only quality, I’d be thrilled and there’s much more to like about him too.  He creates a ton of opportunities in enemy territory.  Look for his production to continue at a similar rate as long as he’s got guys on his line to exploit those opportunities.

***

Next game Saturday in LA against Jon Hamm’s St. Louis Blues.

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Beating the Oilers, yet losing to the Sedins (Canucks, whatever)

Posted in Sports by gklarsen on November 28, 2009

While we were on vacation, the Kings beat the Oilers (Yay!) and followed it up the next day with a loss to Vancouver (boo!).  The Oilers game was remarkable because of the premier of Andrei Loktionov.  Coincidentally, it looks like it might also be his only appearance of the season.  That dislocated shoulder was so nasty that trainers couldn’t replace it.  Instead, he had to be taken to the hospital.

This is awful news for the Kings and especially for Loktionov.  Can you imagine how painful that whole process must have been?  First to get it dislocated, then taken to the trainers where they mess around with it and yet can’t get it into place, then off to the hospital where they mess around with it some more.  God damn.  I’ve not read any reports regarding Loktionov since the incident so I’m assuming that nothing career-threatening has come up yet.

If nothing else, it gave us all a chance to see Brayden Schenn.  As any Kings fan could have predicted, he wasn’t the key ingredient in our current scoring slump.  Nevertheless, Brayden looked pretty smooth in his limited opportunities.  He pulled off a few moves but looked quite like a teenager in other moments.  Rich Hammond tells us that Schenn will stay up in Vancouver with his junior team.  Hope you enjoyed getting beat by the Sedins, kid!  See you next month when we finally cave and buy your contract.

It would be unfair to simply say that the Vancouver game was just another loss due to poor scoring.  Roberto Luongo was brilliant with 31 saves.  Jonathan Quick tried to do his best to imitate Luongo’s success but collapsed in the third period with the help of some shoddy defense.  The Kings managed 12 shots on goal in the third period but none of them were getting by Luongo.  Thus the boxscore shows yet another third period collapse.

The other big issue in the game was faceoffs.  I’ll let Rich Hammond summarize:

Over the first nine minutes of the game, there were nine faceoffs, and the Canucks won all of them. Two Vancouver faceoff wins led directly to goals, and that played a big part in the Canucks’ 4-1 victory over the Kings before 18,810 at GM Place.

What say you, Anze?

Faceoffs are really important, especially on the special teams. They’re definitely huge. The percentage wasn’t good for us. They’re a good team, but it’s one thing to win it clean, but the other thing is just to battle hard and be there for each other.

Yes, yes they are important, aren’t they?  Well his scoring and face offs suck but at least his media-speak is top notch.

Basically, it looked like the Kings were always defending, even in the Vancouver zone.  By the second period it felt as though getting a whistle in their zone was effectively a rally killer.

The third factor was the neutral zone which was lackluster at best and lazy at worst.  Combine that with brilliant goaltending and horrific face offs and there’s really no way we could have won that game.  Two of those factors, however, were our own damn fault.  We weren’t going to score more than one or two goals no matter what but we could have limited their offensives chances significantly.

***

Things are only going to get worse tonight as the ‘Hawks come to Los Angeles.  Not only are they an awesome team, they’re hot.  Sure they lost to the Ducks last night and thus should be ashamed, but I feel it’ll only fuel their desire to redeem themselves.  The only way the Kings have a shot at this one is if they tighten up their face offs and not make such asses of themselves in the neutral zone.  Maybe get a power play goal.  I don’t want to dream too big here, but I say 2-1 with goals by Wayne Simmonds and Dustin Brown.

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I’m thankful for Anze Kopitar

Posted in Sports by gklarsen on November 26, 2009

…even if he didn’t get a point last night and has been effectively stifled by the competition since Smyth went down.  Anyways…

A very happy Thanksgiving to all who stumble across this humble Dodgers/Kings blog.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll be enjoying some great food, excessive drinks and cheering on your fantasy players.  (Go Aaron Rodgers!).  There’s also a Kings game tonight which features recent first rounder Brayden Schenn!  Loktionov suffered a horrible separated shoulder in last night’s victory over the Oilers so it looks like we’ll try again with another new kid against Vancouver.  Here’s hoping he survives.  As far as last game goes, goals by Greene (swear) and the long missing Wayne Simmonds with an empty net goal by Frolov to seal it.  That second period was wicked, violet and filled with penalties, but a solid penalty-killing unit combined with some half-assed play by Edmonton made sure we survived.

Now get off the internet and go have fun.

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Hudler and Physioc fired, LA/OC area 65% less homer-y

Posted in Sports by gklarsen on November 25, 2009

This is just the best.  If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time (and my statistics show that you haven’t) then you know my special loathing for poor announcers.  Hudler and Physioc have always been two of my least favorite.  Steve Physioc isn’t a terrible announcer, but it’s his voice that gets to me.  It just sounds so…white.  It sounds like south Orange County.  It sounds like a voice that’s mass-produced in some factory overseas.  The passion is all fake.  It’s only all too obvious that he calls baseball games because, well, that’s who hired him.  He would sound exactly the same if he were calling games for the Arena Football League.

Hudler is another matter altogether.  I do not doubt for one second that he loves him some baseball.  He’s an Angel fan.  Oh my dear lord is he an Angel fan.  He probably remembers his playing days for them fondly, given that he was actually an okay hitter in limited at bats (couldn’t get on base to save his life, but walks are for losers, right Rex?).  Hudler is indeed so much of a fan that he had become one of the biggest homer announcers this side of the Hawk.  The Angels can do no wrong in his book.  His favorite, of course, was Vladimir Guererro for whom he coined many an irritating nick name.

Yet it wasn’t his exceptional homerism that made Hudler so bad as much as his constant awfulness at, well, announcing.  Commonplace were calls that were simply wrong.  As Rudy Kelly pointed out, getting a run and making it 5 – 2 does not “cut the score in half.”  He could mix his metaphors with the best of ’em (Looks like Salmon is gonna swim upstream and pull that line drive right out of the water!).  Statistics were not his forte, and he wouldn’t be caught dead using anything but wins and batting average.  If Hudler were to ever cheat on Guererro it’d be with Chone Figgins whom he affectionately called “Figgy.”  There was no bigger fan of Mike Scioscia’s brand of hustle/gritty/Eckstein-y baseball.  And he seemed to really like Steve Physioc which was actually kind of sweet.  I’ve never counted but I bet on an average night you’d hear an emphatic “That’s right, Phys!” about 38.3 times.

So it is perhaps appropriate that the Physioc/Hudler era is coming to an end when Guererro and Figgins are leaving.  The Angels as a team are entering a transition phase which will probably hinge upon the quality of their farm system.  Vlad and Chone won’t be resigned, nor will John Lackey, meaning that their biggest stars will be out the door.  It’s a good time for Phys and Hudler to be on their way too.

***

After what seems like a month-long layoff, the Kings have a game tonight!  The big story for us is that we’ll all finally get a chance to watch Andrei Loktionov.  The Manchester Monarch’s point leader will be skating in the second line along with Handzus and Frolov.  The other new guy, Brandon Segal, seems to be the definition of a replacement level player from what I understand.  I mean, he’s 26 and has played two NHL games.  His job will likely be not to screw up too badly while we wait for some guys to come back from injury.

The losses in our last two games certainly make tonight seem like one we’ve got to win.  More importantly, however, this team needs to show that it can score goals without Ryan Smyth.  I have no idea if Loktionov will be that guy but someone has to contribute.  Teddy Purell is getting a start on the first line tonight but I can’t imagine it’ll be too successful.  Smyth defined the first line.  He gave Kopitar tons of scoring opportunities by harassing the crease.  So far no one has shown that they’re capable of replicating that, thus the whole strategy kind of goes out the window.

I haven’t been able to find out who is in goal for Edmonton tonight but I’m pretty sure it won’t be Khabibulin (still listed day to day with a back injury) so odds are we’ll get a back-up.  Hey, I’ll take it.

Despite my negative game preview, I call Kings 3 Oilers 2 with at least one goal by Loktionov.

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