Well, that escalated rather quickly. Things were seemingly going according to plan for the Los Angeles Kings. They were winners of four of their last five games, were sitting pretty in the second wild card spot, had newly acquired trade deadline talent seamlessly plug into their lineup and enjoyed the welcome return of star center, Jeff Carter, as well as valuable forward, Trevor Lewis. Until Saturday afternoon, that is.
LA Singing the Blues
The Kings were thoroughly lambasted in their home barn by the underachieving St. Louis Blues, to the tune of a 7-2 loss. This was a bizarre result given that the Kings were playing some of their best hockey of the season, coupled with the fact that the Blues had lost nine of their previous ten games. All-world goalie Jonathan Quick was pulled after stopping 25 of 29 shots, while superstars Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar likely had their worst performances of the season, both rendering minus four ratings.
Kopitar had the following to say to the LA Times after the loss:
I’ll be honest with you, sometimes getting pummeled 7-1 may be easier than losing 2-1 or 3-2. I don’t think a whole lot needs to be said. I’m sure each and every one of us know what we got to do and we have to play a lot harder and with a lot more emotion than we did today.
Personally, I am hard-pressed to find a silver lining with the team’s performance. The Kings ostensibly had their heads stuck in la-la land for the entire 60 minutes. The best that I can do is take a trip down memory lane to find a couple of equally abysmal performances to lessen the blow.
Other Futile Kings Showings
Kings fans have been truly blessed over the past few decades. They have enjoyed multiple Stanley Cup victories and were afforded the extreme privilege of seeing Wayne Gretzky don the silver and black for eight seasons. That being said, they have also witnessed some rancid displays on the ice. The most recent of which took place a little over a decade ago.
Kings Overthrown in the Queen City
The 2005-06 season was an unspectacular one for the Kings. The team finished fourth in the Pacific division and 10th in the Western conference. The likes of Pavol Demitra and Jeremy Roenick were added in the off-season to help bolster the team’s offense. Unfortunately, said firepower was not enough to rescue the job of head coach Andy Murray – who was canned in favor of John Torchetti with 12 games remaining in the regular season. One specific performance may have led to the ultimate demise of Murray.
On Jan. 14, 2006, the Kings were utterly throttled, 10-1, at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres. Forwards Jason Pominville and Jochen Hecht executed the daunting task of each scoring hat-tricks on the same evening. Then starting goalie, Mathieu Garon, had the dubious distinction of being pulled twice in one game after allowing four goals on the first 10 shots he saw. His replacement, Adam Hauser, was equally atrocious in allowing six goals on 24 shots in his NHL debut.
Coach Murray had little to say in his post-game press conference:
I said most of my things after the first and second periods. I said my piece and it was time for them to come up with an explanation. We just weren’t very good.
Feeling better yet, Kings fans? Wait, there’s more where that came from.
Habs a Cut Above the Rest
The Montreal Canadiens of the mid-to-late 1970s were not to be messed with. Coached by all-time winningest bench boss, Scotty Bowman, the team hoisted an unbelievable five Stanley Cups in seven seasons. The 1976-77 team was voted as the No. 3 greatest team in NHL history in a 2017 NHL.com poll. The star-studded roster fielded the likes of Hall-of-Famers Guy Lafleur, Pete Mahovlich, Yvan Cournoyer, Guy Lapointe, Serge Savard and Larry Robinson – to name a few.
The prior year, the Habs began their quest for a cup in their season opener versus the Kings, on Oct 8, 1975. Although they were only blessed with a fraction of the talent their opponents had, the boys from SoCal certainly were not pushovers, with the likes of Marcel Dionne and Butch Goring leading the charge. That being said, let’s just say that things did not go so well that evening.
Kings’ Hall-of-Fame goalie Rogie Vachon’s head may still be spinning after being peppered with an obscene amount of shots that night. The good news is that he made 39 saves. The bad news is that he faced 48 shots in total. The final result? A 9-0 annihilation.
The onslaught was led by Lafleur, Bob Gainey and Jimmy Roberts – each of which netted two goals respectively. Kings Defenseman Bart Crashley certainly did suffer a head-on crash at the fabled Montreal Forum, amassing a downright deplorable minus five rating.
The good news for the Kings is that they managed to bounce back from this public execution. The team ended up enjoying a fruitful season, finishing second in the then-Norris division, behind the Habs, eventually losing out in seven games to the Boston Bruins in the conference quarterfinals.
See, greener pastures could very well be ahead for this year’s edition of the Kings.
Bounce Back Ahead for the Kings?
The Kings need to put Saturday’s performance in the rear view mirror and step on the gas, pronto. They have the fortunate fate of having the lowly Vancouver Canucks, Arizona Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings next on their schedule.
Let’s hope that they get their heads get out of la-la land and focus on the task at hand.