For me, it always starts with a weird goal. I'll get beat on a wraparound or high glove or low blocker (which is the weirdest because I never get beat low blocker) and I'll lean against the crossbar and think, "Huh, that was kinda weird." Then I'll get beat again because I'm concentrating on not getting beat in the same place and it'll end up going in between my glove and chest protector or something. Now I'm pissed and wondering what the fuck is wrong with me. Then a few more will go in and I'll throw my helmet against the locker room door and change out of my gear in .2 seconds and yell, "Fuck!" when I'm in the quiet of my car.
Going through rough stretches suck because you never have any idea why you're playing bad. Last week, you were a badass; this week you're just an ass. You think, "OK, I wasn't taking it seriously last week but this time I'll bear down and play hard and everything will be fine."
That doesn't work.
Then you start to think, "Alright, fuck this. Now I'm pissed and I'm going to play pissed and I'm going to win this fucking game."
That doesn't work.
Then you're despaired and you wallow in your shittiness and you think, "Fuck, I'm never going to play well again. I should just quit. Maybe I will get into a car accident on the way to the rink and then I won't have to play."
Surprisingly, that doesn't work either.
Finally, you'll just accept the fact that you're sucking right now and let fate have its way with you. "Fuck it, I'm just going to go play and whatever happens, happens."
That... sometimes works.
Who really knows why you come out of it. People like to say it's because they worked harder or played smarter or prayed or whatever but usually it's something smaller. Maybe it's because you saw a pretty girl in the stands or you realized a guy you hate is on the other team or maybe it's because you heard "Boogie Man" by KC & The Sunshine Band on the way to the rink and it made you so happy you couldn't help but play well. It's... something, and you'll never know what it was. (But it was probably "Boogie Man" because that song rules.)
The Kings are struggling right now. Everyone knows this. It's not because they're a young team or because they're lazy or because they don't know how to win. It's... something. Doughty will let a puck go between his legs one game but score the next. Brown can't score one game and makes a nice hit the next. Kopitar can't get the puck on his stick one game and dominates the boards the next. Quick makes a ton of nice stops one game and lets a weak floater slip through him the next. There are 19 players in any one game and the Kings just can't seem to get them all on the same page in one game, and in the few moments they do it's only for periods at a time. It's luck or bad timing or... something. Fuck, I wish I knew what it was. I'd sell my soul to figure out what it was. Even if you knew what it was, though, you still couldn't stop it.
The Kings are a good team. It's possible they've been too unlucky for too long and they'll miss the playoffs but whatever. I just want them to play well and worry about that later. I'd give anything for them to play well. It's almost worse watching them struggle than going through the struggle myself because at least it's me and I feel like I have some measure of control over it. With them, I'm helpless.
But eventually, they'll come out of it. You always come out of it. It's not going to be due to a firing or a trade or anything like that; it's just going to happen and it's going to feel like they were ever struggling at all. You hope it happens sooner or later but who knows. Struggling in hockey is like a Midwestern rain storm, in that it comes suddenly and then you can't remember ever not being mired in it. You just have to remember that no matter how long you're stuck in it, eventually the Sun will come out. It has to.
Or, you know, you can try Deadwood clips. That seems to work really well.
Prediction: Kings win, 4-2. Goals by Mr. Wu, Dan Doherty, Doc Cochrane and Wyatt Earp.*
*What the hell was that about, anyway?