I was a little worried when the Kings won yesterday afternoon. Two seasons ago, the Kings defeated the Phoenix Coyotes to drop down to 3rd in the draft lottery; they were eventually leapfrogged by the 5th place Chicago Blackhawks and selected 4th. Last year, a Brian Willsie goal in the penultimate game of the season against San Jose cost the Kings the #1 overall slot; the Kings ended up selecting 2nd.
So this year, as Peter Harrold knocked in a Jon Zeiler shot off a rebound, I got a little nervous. The Kings win put them into 7th, behind both the Phoenix Coyotes and the Toronto Maple Leafs, with both teams scheduled to play later that night. The Maple Leafs reverse-choked, however, led by something named Boyd Devereaux (who had a hat trick) in a 5-2 victory over the also woeful Ottawa Senators. (Read Pension Plan Puppets' perspective here). That put the Kings into 6th.
Then, the Coyotes showed a surprising amount of spunk in a game against the Ducks. Jonas Hiller looked tired and the Coyotes took advantage, jumping out to a 4-2 lead at the end of the 2nd. Underdogs always falter near the end, however, and Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne tallied goals to tie the game. It seemed lost going into the shootout, especially once Ryan Getzlaf scored an absolutely ridiculous shootout goal against Ilya Bryzgalov. Shane Doan saved the day, however, and then rookie Victor Tikhonov scored on an obvious double-tap and I can't believe the league conspired against the Ducks on-
(What the hell? Get away from my computer, Heyward!)
So, the Coyotes won and lost, dropping down to 6th. It's funny though, because even though the players probably knew that a win hurt the team in the long run, they didn't seem to care at all. Joe Posnanski, the awesome columnist for the Kansas City Star, wrote once that when he was a young pup reporter he asked an athlete if it would be smarter to lose a game to get a better chance at some hot young draftee. The athlete got red and yelled, "You know what? FUCK [draftee]! I only care about winning." And it's true, athletes only care about winning. Contrary to what Pension said in his post, there are no Pyrrhic victories in sports. You either win, or you don't. Of course, maybe I would have felt differently if the Coyotes and the Maple Leafs hadn't won. I was indeed happy when the Kings won; I was just a little happier when the Maple Leafs and the Coyotes did too.
The Kings have an 8% chance at winning the lottery, but more importantly they have a 77.4% chance of picking 5th or better. I'm not going to be so optimistic that I'll actually dream that the Kings pick 1st overall; I just want to have a crack at one of Tavares, Swedish kid, Duchene or Kane. Staying in 5th guarantees that, at least until the Kings trade their pick along with Bernier and Johnson for Ilya Kovalchuk. (Dammit, what did I just say about unrealistic expectations?) Draft lottery's on Tuesday, and I'll be rubbing my rabbit's foot and my cock* for good luck. Hey, the Kings finally got lucky with their draft position this year; why not let it continue?
*What, like one's rational but the other one's insane? Although my good luck charm does occasionally get me in trouble:
Scene: Las Vegas casino
Drink Wench: Sir, can I get- oh my god, you can't do that in here!
RK: Leave me alone, I'm on a hot streak! Here we go... jack pot!
Drink Wench: My hair!