Monday- LA Kings (13-12-4) vs. San Jose Sharks (24-3-2)
Wednesday- LA Kings vs. New York Rangers (20-11-2)
Friday- LA Kings @ Buffalo Sabres (15-12-3)
Saturday- LA Kings @ Detroit Red Wings (20-5-4)
Well, we're boned. The Kings finally got above .500 in their last game and it looks like it's going to be a short-lived. Students around California (well, the State ones anyway) are going through Finals this week; in their own way, this is the Kings' Finals week. The Kings have done surprisingly well this season (they're the class screw-up who somehow managed to get a B on their midterm and thus have a chance at passing this semester) but this week is huge. Like I've pointed out many times, the Kings have a terrible schedule the 2nd half of the season so they need to pile up points this half to make up for it. They've done OK and have gotten a bit unlucky so far this season, but this week is an opportunity to prove to the league (and themselves) that the Kings are a legitimate force to be reckoned with in the National Hockey League. They don't need to win every game, or even a majority; they just need a signature win over one of San Jose, New York or Detroit. Which game is most winnable? Let's take a look, in order of winnability:
New York Rangers- I know, you're thinking, "Why wouldn't they be more likely to beat a team like Buffalo, who has a shittier record?" Well, you idiot, if you had bothered to look at GF/GA you might realize that the Rangers have been incredibly lucky so far this season. (Seriously, you're a dumbass. Just stop reading and go hang yourself.) The Rangers have allowed 87 goals and have scored just 80 this season; their record is a bit flukey right now and I'd expect it to go down a bit. Factor in that the Rangers will play a rough Anaheim team the night before and I think this game is eminently winnable for the Kings. Plus, the Kings will probably be coming off a brutal ass-kicking at the hands of the Sharks and the Kings have bounced back well this season.
Detroit Red Wings- The Red Wings have an amazing offense, led by Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and points leader Marian Hossa. They also have a somewhat porous defense, having allowed over 3 goals a game. Consider this: they've allowed as many goals this season as the Tampa Bay Lightning. What they need is a big, smooth-skating defenseman with an accurate shot. They really need a guy like Kyle Quincey. Too bad they never had anyone like that; if they did, they'd be idiots for letting them go, right? Anyway, the Red Wings have been dominating thanks to their high-power offense, but they're vulnerable to the occasional breakdown on D. That gives the Kings a chance.
Buffalo Sabres- I have to be honest, I give the Kings almost no chance to win this game. The Sabres are middle-of-the-road this season and shouldn't strike so much fear into my heart, but the Kings will have to play the Rangers on Wednesday, fly 4 1/2 hours to Buffalo on Thursday, and then play Buffalo at 4:30 on Friday. The last two times the Kings traveled to Buffalo, this and this happened. Granted, those weren't good Kings teams, but the fact remains that the road to Buffalo is littered with the crushed dreams of Kings' fans.*
*I watched that '05-'06 game with my brother and finally left the room at 6-1. My brother kept watching though, so I kept hearing, "MOTHER FUCKER!" through the walls of his apartment. That game was heart-breaking on so many levels.
San Jose Sharks- We're fucked tonight. It's not like the Kings aren't playing well right now, but the Sharks are just dominant right now. They lead the league in goals and shot differential, they are 4th in goals allowed, they're 7th on both the power play and penalty kill, they're 3rd in power play opportunities... they're 3rd in faceoff percentage, for fuck's sake. The Kings might get lucky and pot a few goals, but it's going to take luck to beat a team playing as well as the Sharks. Rub a rabbit's foot or something.
Of course, there's one more factor that basically guarantees a Sharks win tonight: I'm going to be there. Yep, your dogged reporter will be at Staples Center tonight because I'm taking my sister to a game for her birthday. (Worst brother ever? I think so.) My sister has a complicated relationship with hockey: she hates it because my brother and I used to take the remote from her to watch the Kings' game right in the middle of Hocus Pocus or whatever retarded shit she used to watch, but she also likes it and knows it because she went to so many tournaments to watch me and my brother growing up. It's the same relationship I have with Beverly Hills, 90210, except replace "hates it" with "owns every season on DVD" and "likes it and knows it" with "not allowed within 500 feet of Ian Ziering.*" I bought tickets off StubHub for like $12 each because someone else is smart enough to know that this game is going to blow, so I guess I'll hang out underneath section 311 during the 1st intermission if anyone wants to stop by and say hi. I'll be the good-looking dude in the adorable grey sweater. We can talk about the game and then I'll mutter, "God, these people are freaks," as I head up to my seat. Should be fun.
*It's pronounced, "Eye-uhn."
Prediction: Kings win, 10-1. Goals by Kopitar (x10).