Los Angeles Kings (7-8-0, 5th in Pacific) vs. Dallas Stars (7-7-2, 1st in Pacific)
7:30 PST, FSN West
Kings Record in November: 1-1
The Kings are finally playing again after sitting around for a week while the Lakers and Clippers started off their seasons. (How retarded is it that two NBA teams share one arena? That NBA, so dysfunctional....) The good news is that the Kings weren't left in the dust by any Pacific teams while they were idle; they're still within 4 points of the division lead. Since the Kings are almost 20% through their regular season, I thought this would be a good time to kick off a new series of mine, named after the greatest commercials in television history.
Hooray, Young Forwards!
The young guys on the Kings are progressing very nicely. Kopitar seems to have adjusted to teams focusing on him, although he still holds on to the puck too long on the power play. Dustin Brown isn't hitting as much as he did last year, but that's actually a good thing. He's spending more time playing good defense instead. Cammalleri (who is fast becoming my sister's favorite player despite her inability to say his name) has been potting goals at a ridiculous pace, aided by his now-patented "one knee slapshot." (How does anyone tell when he goes to his knee?) Alex Frolov went through the most productive slump in the history of the NHL earlier in the season and has probably been our best forward the last couple games. And Patrick O'Sullivan has been a revelation. How did he go from being a one-dimensional goal scorer to grinding two-way player in one off-season? Also, he said this on Thursday over at Inside the Kings:
"Technically, I should have it on for another week or two,'' O'Sullivan said. "But if we worried about doctors and technicalities then none of us would be playing hockey."
That's pretty badass. Retarded, but badass.
Boo, Top Line Defensemen!
While the young guys have been leading the Kings, the two highest-paid guys on the team haven't exactly been pulling their weight. Both Rob Blake and Lubomir Visnovsky have not been playing good defense this season. Blake looks slower than last year (somehow) and I think it's about time we stop giving him top-line minutes. I still like him on the penalty kill, but the Kings should probably "advise" him to take himself off the first power play unit and replace him with someone, anyone else. Lubo, as much as I hate to say it, hasn't been playing well this season. It seems to me that a memo went out to the rest of the league that you could bump Lubo off the puck if you get to him as soon as he gets it behind the net, and he hasn't adjusted well. I'm giving him a grace period because he looks like a sprite, but the Kings are counting on him if they're going to continue to be .500.
Hooray, Jack Johnson!
Jack Johnson, on the other hand, has been a pleasant surprise. I was expecting him to make a lot of mistakes and take a lot of dumb penalties, but so far he has been fairly reticent to commit either. The Kings have taken to putting him on the penalty kill where I think he's responded quite well. Now is the time to put him on the power play, whether with Lubo or with Tom Preissing. At the same time, though…
Boo, Jack Johnson!
…for this hit on Milan Michalek:
I'm sorry, but that hit was bullshit. Michalek was held up along the boards by Derek Armstrong, got rid of the puck well before Jack got to him, and then Jack jumped about a foot in the air as he hit Milan. He didn't get his elbow into it, but that's probably more luck than anything else. That's the stupid shit you can't do if you're going to be a top defenseman in the NHL, Jack, if only because the Kings can't afford to have you off the ice. Just because you play like Chris Pronger doesn't mean you have to be a complete piece of shit like him too.
Rudy: You know, I think this Bailey character is a really cool cat. He's really the cat's meow. In fact, I'd go even say he's purr-fect.
Meg: Ha... you done?
Rudy: Yeah. Still though, you have to admit that he really does the lion's share of work at Staples.
Meg: (pulls out gun) Seriously, one more cat pun and I am shooting you in the leg.
Rudy: Hey, I'm sorry man, I didn't mean to hurt your pride. I was only kitten. Seeing you so upset really gives me paws.
Meg: Alright, that's better. Wait a minute... (blam!)
Boo, Dennis Miller!
I guess when they decided to name the show "Unfiltered," they meant they weren't going to filter out all the shitty jokes. "Watching that show made me about as comfortable as Philip Fabricius during the Second Defenestration of Prague!"
Prediction: Kings win, 2-1. Goals by Johnson and Cammy.