Monthly Archives: May 2013

Kings vs Blackhawks: How They Really Matchup

kings v Hawks image


May 31st, 2013

Most of the previews I’ve seen for the Kings and Blackhawks take a look at the regular season numbers, and how the teams did in the three match ups against each other.  At the risk of stating the obvious, this isn’t the regular season!  It’s not always who you play, but when you play them.   During the regular season the Hawks won 2 of the 3 games, but that’s about as relevant today as an eight-track player.  Vegas lists the Hawks as slight favorites, but let’s take a closer look.


Forwards:    The Blackhawks forwards are loaded with talent.  The combination of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, and Brandon Saad is among the best in the NHL.  Their speed and skill will be a challenge for the Kings to defend.  Those 5 forwards have combined to score 15 goals in the post season thus far, but appeared to have some trouble with the Red Wings feisty defense in the last round.  The Kings combination of Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, and Mike Richards has scored a total of just 9 goals throughout the playoffs.  They don’t quite have the explosive speed of the Hawks, but they have provided timely scoring throughout the playoffs.

Advantage: Blackhawks

Defense:  Both teams have a very versatile group of defenseman.  The Hawks Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are skilled puck movers that can create offense on the rush.  Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson have also helped stabilize a Chicago defense that has allowed the 2nd fewest goals in this years playoffs.    However, the Kings have allowed the fewest goals of any team in this years playoffs.  Drew Doughty is one of the top 5 defenseman in the world, capable of playing in any situation.  Slava Voynov is starting to emerge as one of the league’s top defenseman, Matt Greene and Robyn Regehr have been punishing opposing forwards, and Rob Scuderi is always solid.  Although the Chicago defense has been reliable, the Kings depth and physicality at this position give them a slight edge.

Advantage: Kings

Goaltending:  Corey Crawford has been solid through the first two rounds of the playoffs with a 1.70 goals against average and a .938 save percentage.  Crawford let’s in an occasional soft goal, but benefits quite a bit from Chicago’s excellent puck possession game.  He is opposed by the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy Winner, and arguably the best goaltender in the world, Jonathan Quick.  Quick leads all playoff goaltenders in goal against average, save percentage, shutouts,  and appears to be playing even better than last year.  The Kings can only hope that Quick can post a shutout or two in Chicago, so they won’t have to hear that dumb ass song they play in the United Center every time the Hawks score a goal.

Advantage: Kings

Special Teams: The Blackhawks powerplay was ranked 19th in the NHL this season, and 10th in the postseason.  Their powerplay has been the most ineffective of all the teams remaining in the postseason.  This can likely be blamed on special teams coach Jamie Kompon, who was with LA last year, and nearly crapped all over their success.  The Blackhawks have been the best penalty killing team in the playoffs, while the Kings have been the 5th best penalty killing group.  LA’s powerplay has been effective, and ranks 6th in the playoffs.

Advantage: Blackhawks

Prediction: The Blackhawks have incredible offensive firepower, and a solid defensive core that will present a challenge for LA.  However, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have had some trouble scoring in the playoffs, and it won’t get any easier against the Kings stingy defense and elite goaltending.  There is something to be said for playing a gritty and tough style in the playoffs, as opposed to simply being a finesse team.  The Hawks peaked in the regular season, the Kings are starting to peak now, and goaltending is the great equalizer in the NHL.  Kings in 6.

Should We Boo Matt Kemp?


May 30th, 2013

For about a week now, all I’ve heard is how upset Matt Kemp is that he is being booed by Dodger fans.  I’ve also heard Dodger fans being criticized for how terrible they are for not being supportive of their star player.  I’m here to tell you that as a fan, you have every damn right to boo your brains out with the way he is playing!

We’ve played two months of the season, and Kemp has 2 home runs, and 17 runs batted in.  That means he is on pace for exactly 6 home runs and 54 runs batted in for the entire season!  He’s already struck out 60 times in 51 games.   The Dodgers have no chance of succeeding with their best player playing like dog shit, and everyone knows this.

As a paying customer, it is my every right to let my voice be heard.  That means sending a message to Matt Kemp and the Dodger organization that he needs to play better, and that is done by booing.  How many times does Kemp expect to come up to the plate with runners in scoring position and strikeout while the fans continue to support him?  Each and every one of Kemp’s at bats is getting as painful to watch as a kick in the balls for Dodger fans.

Professional athletes need to treat boos as motivation to pull their heads out and start performing. This isn’t personal for Kemp, or any other athlete that is getting booed.  Everyone knows that Matt Kemp is a great guy, and he’s doing everything he can.  It also has nothing to do with the fact Kemp is making $20 million a year either.  It’s clear that he isn’t physically or mentally prepared to play ball right now, and Don Mattingly and Ned Colletti need to sit him down until he’s ready.

Nobody expects Matt Kemp to be at his best all the time.  Every player is going to have good days and bad days.  However, every fan expects him to perform far better than he has.  Kemp said “I’m taking a beating from the fans”, and that it’s “shocking”.  Dude, you’re taking a beating every time you’re in the batters box.  The fans aren’t against you Matt, but we all expect you to perform better, and you need to know that.  We aren’t spending our hard earned money to see you strikeout 4 times a night.  Get it together Kemp, and tell your friend Andre Ethier to do the same, or else the fans voice will continue to be heard.


Take That Nor Cal!


Sharks Shucks

May 29th, 2013

It took a full 60 minutes.  It took Jonathan Quick playing out of his mind.  It took Justin Williams’ heroics.  And it took Dustin Penner’s dirty work.   It took all of that for the Kings to leave Staples Center on Tuesday Night with a 2-1 victory in game 7 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals vs San Jose, which earned them a trip to the Western Conference Finals.

After a first period that was more conservative than the Republican National Convention, Justin Williams gave the Kings a big boost in the 2nd period with two quick goals in less than three minutes.  Williams hadn’t scored in his last 8 playoff games, but now has 5 goals and 9 points in 4 career game 7’s.  Jonathan Quick slammed the door on the Sharks after that.  San Jose mounted an attack in the third period that was more relentless than my crazy ex-girlfriend in Chicago, but Quick stood his ground time and time again.

When Sharks forward Joe Pavelski appeared to have an open net with about 5 minutes left, the entire building thought the game was about to be tied.  Somehow, Quick kept the puck out of the net, leaving everyone astonished.  He made another phenomenal glove save on Logan Couture with 1:20 left in the game as well.  It’s amazing that Quick is playing even better hockey this spring than last year’s Conn Smythe winning performance.

I like how Dustin Penner has slept through the last two regular seasons, then really earned his paycheck in the playoffs.  Penner threw his weight around all night, and was a big part of the Kings out hitting the sharks 39-30.

The Sharks were tough, and so was their goalie Anti Niemi, but Jonathan Quick was better.  I love the Shark fan that called the Kings post game show and claimed that losing Raffi Torres was the difference in this series.  That fan conveniently forgot that Torres suspension caused the Kings to lose Jarrett Stoll for the entire series, who is far more valuable to the Kings than Torres is to San Jose.

The bottom line is that once again, the Sharks top players flopped harder than Lebron James did against David West last night.  The Kings combo of Kopitar, Brown, Williams, Carter, and Richards scored 9 goals in the series.  The Sharks combo of Thornton, Marleau, Couture, Burns, and Pavelski scored just 5 goals in the series.   To win big in the playoffs, your best guys have to play well, and you have to have the goaltending.  The Kings edged the Sharks in both of those areas.

So who do the Kings want to play next? Conventional wisdom says the Kings should want the Red Wings because they get home ice advantage, and because they’ve won 14 in a row at home, but take a closer look kids.  Goaltending is always critical, and there is a much better chance that Quick will outplay Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, as opposed to the upstart and talented Jimmy Howard of the Red Wings.  Quick and Howard will likely be battling it out next winter for the starting spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.

The Sharks had the best home record in the league this season, so home ice was critical in that series.  However, the Kings are one of the few teams in the league who have beaten the Blackhawks in Chicago this year.  Chicago peaked early, while the Red Wings appear to be peaking now.  Both teams fans are annoying as hell and you’ll have to put up with their ugly mugs at Staples Center.  Bring on the Blackhawks!

This year’s playoff run has been much tougher for the Kings than last year.  LA went 16-4 on their way to the cup, and lost only once in the first two rounds in 2012.  This year, they’ve already played 13 games in the first two rounds, and the team badly needs rest over the next few days.  The Kings know they can play better, but they seem resigned to the fact each and every game the rest of the way will be a grind.  With Quick in goal the Kings will always have a chance, and as long as the Kings top 6 continue to come through, you have to like their chances to repeat.  Meanwhile, the Sharks playoff hopes are shattered once again.  Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Nor Cal!


Monday Morning Coffee


May 27th, 2013

Many Kings fans are pretty unfamiliar with this concept of game 7, especially after last season’s cup winning playoff run.  The last time the Kings played in a game 7, I was taking my frustration out on a poor waitress at the UC Irvine campus pub because the Kings just couldn’t get their act together.  That was back in 2002 when the Kings lost to the Avalanche in the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and when Jock Talk was born.

The good news for the Kings is that game 7 is at Staples Center, where they’ve won 13 in a row, and the home team is 6-0 in this series  The bad news is the Sharks have the momentum again, and somebody is bound to win a road game sometime soon.  This series has been close throughout, and figures to be that way for one more game.  Kings fans should be more nervous than a new prison inmate that just dropped the soap in the shower.

Don Mattingly really sacked up last week by benching Andre Ethier, and then Matt Kemp.  Mattingly definitely bought himself some more time with the Guggenheim Group with his tough guy act, but at this point, everyone realizes the team is going nowhere until Kemp and Ethier get it together.  Adrian Gonzales and Carl Crawford may not be the players they used to be, but they have been serviceable.  If Kemp hasn’t been healthy, he should be placed on the DL and Yasiel Puig should be brought up.  The Dodgers need offense badly.

Kemp may be hurt, but what’s Ethier’s excuse for sucking?  He couldn’t hit lefties before, and now he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of of a boat.  Worse, Ethier’s salty attitude is killing the clubhouse, and making the fans and media alike want him shipped out of town.  Maybe he and Mike D’Antoni can make their travel plans together.

Meanwhile, the Angels have won 8 in a row, and the fans are drinking the kool-aid again.  Sorry Halos fans,  but this hole is deeper than the Grand Canyon. They team is still 9 games back in the AL West, and 4 games under .500.   Jered Weaver is poised to return to the mound on Wednesday, and that could keep them alive in the wild card race, but I’ve seen this movie last year, and even Hollywood wouldn’t be this crappy script.

Finally, I do admire Bill Simmons’ breakdown of the Dwight Howard situation, but Mr. Simmons has been bamboozled by Mike D’Antoni’s ridiculous system.  Dwight may not be the best post player in the NBA, but he is still the best center in the NBA, and should get the “mega-max contract” simply because there is a lack of quality big men in the NBA today.  Simmons and others have conveniently forgotten that Dwight is a three-time defensive player of the year, and this past season played for a coach that doesn’t even like to post up players.  If Eric Gordon and Roy Hibbert can command “mini-max deals”, then Dwight Howard can surely command a “mega-max deal”.

A Letter To Jim Buss

May 25, 2013

Dear Jimmy,

You are a very intelligent man.  Far more intelligent than most people give you credit for. However, you are also a man with incredible pride, which is getting in the way of your greatness.

You deserve credit for trading for Chris Paul, and saving the Lakers $20 million in the process, before NBA Dictator David Stern vetoed it.  You also deserve credit for drafting Andrew Bynum, who did help the Lakers beat the Celtics in the 2008 Finals, and eventually helped you acquire Dwight Howard.

You’ve learned from arguably the most successful owner in the history of sports, which I admit is a tough act to follow, now that you are the owner of the Lakers.  I have no doubt that you are very motivated to both honor your father by continuing his legacy, as well as prove your own ability as a basketball executive.  The only way to do that is by winning, and the best way to do that is to bring back one of the greatest basketball minds ever to your organization next season: Phil Jackson.

At this point, you are well aware of the fact that your future brother in law is a much better coach for this current Laker team than Mike D’Antoni.  The players all told you that, and you saw it with your own two eyes this season.  You are also smarter than all those people who think that Phil will never actually coach again, and know that he would gladly coach your team if you put your pride aside, and asked him to coach your team for just next season.  Your current team has a window of exactly one year left, they were tailor made for Phil, and he might even help you win a title next year in place of D’Antoni.

I realize Phil can get on your nerves sometimes Jimmy.  His ego is massive, but what NBA great’s ego isn’t?  His triangle offense seems boring, but it’s also won your last 5 championships while your delusional competitors are convinced “it’s a point guard driven league”, and have yet to win anything.   Nobody really knows if it’s actually sage or marijuana he’s burning in the locker room either, but didn’t you smoke a little weed with your race track buddies a few years ago?

Kobe and Shaq showed you years ago that everyone in the organization doesn’t have to get along to be wildly successful.  Phil has no desire to be a GM like Mitch either, and you could easily grant him his consulting role in the front office after next year.  You, your dad, and Mitch always used to go down to California Pizza Kitchen, and put your heads together whenever a big decision had to be made.  That third chair at CPK is now open, so why not put Phil in that chair and hear what he has to say?  The final say will still rest with you.

You know deep down that Dwight Howard really wants this too, but he hasn’t forced this on you because he doesn’t want to be the bad guy.  But do you really want to wait until July 1st to see him sign with the Rockets to show you how unhappy he really was with D’Antoni?  You know that bringing back Phil will insure the future face of your franchise will re-sign.

So here I am Jimmy, speaking on behalf of all Laker fans.  Put your pride aside, and do what’s best for your franchise.  Bring back Phil Jackson to the organization next year, and you’ll make your family proud, and you’ll be a hero among Laker fans.  More importantly, you’ll honor your father’s legacy in the best way possible: by continuing the Laker tradition of winning.


Omar Shaban

Shutting Down The Sharks

Quick Wall


May 24th, 2013

Jonathan Quick and the Kings answered the bell.  I can’t believe some people suggested the Kings should start Bernier in the playoffs, or even trade Quick when he was struggling to find his game earlier in this season.  Quick should never be doubted again!

The Sharks have tried to get Quick off his game by bumping into him, and forcing him to complain to the officials.  In game 5, the Sharks continued to do that, but the difference was that Quick didn’t let it rattle him, and just responded with save after save.  He even flashed a few smiles at some of the Sharks players after making some stellar saves.  Almost reminded me of the former Kings killer Patrick Roy in the 1993 Finals.

Anze Kopitar also came to play as well, and just when I think the guy is about to disappear like hodini, he shows up when you need him more than ever at both ends of the ice.  Daryl Sutter must have beat the crap out of these guys the last few days because Carter, Richards, and Brown were very good as well.

The good news is that the Kings are up 3-2, and are only 1 win away from advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the 2nd straight season.  The bad news is that they have to play game 6 in San Jose, where they’ve had about as much luck as I had playing the Powerball last week.  In some ways, the Kings are probably due for a win on the road, but that also means they might be due for a loss at home after 13 straight wins.  In that case, the Kings better close it out on Sunday!

What happened to Jim Fox’s hair?  I’m too afraid to ask.  And what the hell has happened to the Chicago Blackhawks?  They are letting a team that is half as talented as them completely dominate them.




Monday Morning Coffee

shark fin

May 20th, 2013

What a bunch of garbage that took place in San Jose on Saturday night.  I’ve always said that NBA  referees are by far the worst in sports, but the nonsense I saw on Saturday night made me think that NHL refs might get that dishonor.  Trevor Lewis was clearly shoved into Sharks goalie Anti Niemi at the end of regulation, but the referees called an interference penalty on Lewis.  That of course, led to a 5 on 3 man advantage for the Sharks in overtime, and a 2-1 win.

Sure, for the last two days I’ve heard crap like “the hockey gods evened things up”, or “justice was served”, since the Kings stole game 2 in controversial fashion.  That however, is a bunch of monkey crap.  The referees set a tone for the players by not calling a lot of penalties throughout the game, including numerous contact the Sharks made with Jonathan Quick that was not called.  Then, when the game was at its most crucial moment, they decide to call a penalty.  A players aggressiveness is determined by how the referees are calling a game, and when there is no consistency, it screws up the game.

FINE.  Take your game 3 victory San Jose.  In a game 3 must win on your home ice, you needed a two man advantage in overtime, which you couldn’t even score on until the very end of the powerplay.  That’s all you’ve got?  Quick and the Kings have got this.

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly could be fired on Thursday if the Dodgers perform poorly over the next 3 games against the Brewers.  Just one year ago, Mattingly was overachieving with a crappy roster.  Now, he’s been saddled with a bunch of overpaid underachievers, and he’s about to be canned?  Firing Mattingly isn’t going to fix Matt Kemp’s swing, or keep the Dodgers any healthier.   It was Ned Colletti that traded for reliever Brandon League last season, when the Mariners gave him away for a bucket of KFC Chicken.  Now’s it’s Colletti that’s choking on the bone after signing him to a 3 year extension.

Here comes another Phil Jackson book, so prepare for more drama.  This time he felt the need to compare Jordan with Kobe, and he favored Jordan in almost every way.  I like how Phil  briefly mentions that he always resented Kobe for the sexual assault charges that were filed against him in 2004, because it symbolized his daughter previously being victimized by sexual assault.  Phil has always enjoyed criticizing Kobe, and it’s the nature of their relationship.  However, for a guy that’s responsible for your last five championship rings, you would think he might be able to say a few more positive things about Kobe.  How about the duration of Kobe’s greatness lasting longer than MJ’s?  How about Kobe’s superior shooting range and ball handling skills?  Glad to see that Phil’s hiatus from the NBA hasn’t altered his ego in any way shape for form.

Apparently, nothing has changed for the Clippers.  ESPN LA’s Ramona Shelburne reported that Donald Sterling is actually considering keeping Vinny Del Negro around because he doesn’t want to give a coach a multi-year contract, and he knows Del Negro is probably one of the few who would accept such a crappy deal.  I wonder how Chris Paul feels about this?  I have a feeling we’ll find out in July, when Paul and Dwight Howard leave LA together.


Rally Time?

Monkey Season Over

May 18th, 2013

Ok, I’m going to try and be positive about the Angels.  Let’s see…..they are only 12 games back of first place Texas in the AL West?  Ok let’s try again.  They are only 9 games back in the wild card race?  Shoot! This is much tougher than I thought.  I’ve got it!  Their ERA isn’t quite the worst in baseball, because Toronto and Houston are worse.  I knew I could do it.

Can I go back to be being honest now?  Because the Halos are quickly flushing this season down the toilet.  One quarter of the way through the season, the team is on pace to lose 103 games, and keep in mind, the franchise record is 95.  $127 million clearly doesn’t buy what it used to, because the Angels have no starting pitching, and they have nearly half a billion committed to three players whose best playing days are behind them.

Even Arte Moreno acknowledged this week that Mike Scioscia isn’t responsible for this mess.  It isn’t his fault that none of his starters can give him 6 innings.  It isn’t his fault that his best pitcher, starting shortstop, first baseman, and his starting center fielder are all hurt.  It also isn’t his fault that Josh Hamilton keeps coming down with these mysterious illnesses, and seems to be emotionally unreliable for this ball club.

Arte has spent enough money to feed several small African countries, but in all the wrong places.  He’s taken one of the best managers in baseball, and made him useless by building a team that is incapable of executing the fundamentals of the game, which is essential for Scioscia’s success.  The Halos have always been successful when focusing on pitching and defense, and manufacturing runs, yet they are now inept in all those areas.

The good news is that the Angels have two great cornerstones in Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo that they can build their team around for the next 5 years.  The bad news is that the contracts of Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and CJ Wilson won’t allow them to build much else around them during that time.  Those 3 players need to produce now, because we all know they won’t during the back end of those dumb contracts.   In the meantime, the Halos better build start building that farm system back up because it’s currently considered the worst in baseball.  At least the season is almost over (I told you I could be positive!).




Jumping the Shark


May 17th, 2013

Holy Toffoli!  Two goals in 23 seconds and the Kings shocked the Sharks at Staples Center on Thursday night to take a 2-0 series lead.  As usual, Jonathan Quick was amazing, except I’m beginning to think the Kings players think they can go into a coma for long stretches because of his greatness.

Speaking of coma’s, I thought Anze Kopitar was going to go into one when he got hit in the face with the puck in the 3rd period.  After Kopitar left, the Kings were without 2 of their top 3 centers, and you could tell.  The Sharks won 44 faceoffs to the Kings 21, and they outshot the Kings by a wide margin until the last few minutes of the 3rd period.  I also take back half of those bad things I said about Jake Muzzin, who is playing some better defense.

This game was phenomenal, but the finish wasn’t better than the Miracle on Manchester in 1982, or the Frenzy on Figueroa in 2000.  Both of those comebacks had much greater deficits, and were at much more pivotal points in those playoff series than where we are now.  The Sharks have had plenty of playoff disasters over the years, but that collapse has to be right up near the top.  If these guys were a Canadian team, they might have their citizenships revoked by now.

That collapse serves them right for that cheap bull shit they pulled in the 2nd period when Vlasic faked an injury to draw a penalty on Carter, only to come back one shift later and score a goal to put the Sharks ahead.  Of course Shark fans are now crying because Raffi Torres is suspended for the rest of the series, and because they think they were wrongfully penalized for delay of game just before the Kings comeback.  At least Sharks Coach Todd McClellan wasn’t bitching too hard.  He admitted “When you get three, you better beat this team.”

The Sharks are just as good as the Kings at home, so it’s hard to imagine LA sweeping this series. Still, the Kings need to put the Sharks away quickly so they can buy some time to get healthy before facing the Blackhawks.  They’ll need the likes of Stoll and Matt Greene to win that series.


Reality Check For Nor Cal



May 15th, 2013

Don’t you just hate Nor Cal?  They might as well be a separate state as far as I’m concerned.  Apparently, mastering the concept of public transportation and considering themselves “cultured”, has made many of their fans delusional about their hockey team.  The Kings gave them a dose of reality last night with a 2-0 win in game 1 of their Western Conference semi final series against the Sharks.

Every year, we’ve heard about how talented the Sharks are, and how this is finally the year they break through to win the Cup.  The only cups these guys have drank out of are the champagne glasses on their annual plane ride home for the summer.  In round 1, San Jose swept a team that’s had even more playoff ineptitude than them, in Vancouver.  Last night, they looked like the same chokers who have been showing up in the playoffs the last 5 years.  Meanwhile, the Kings played a Blues team that might have actually come out of the Western Conference if they didn’t run into LA in the 1st round.

Jonathan Quick was phenomenal again.  He single handedly shut down the Sharks, and already looks like he is in their heads.  The Kings sat back for much of the game, waiting patiently, but imposed their will for about 25 minutes of the game, and that was all they needed.  The Kings were extremely composed throughout the entire game, unlike the dude sitting next to me in section 116.

Just one minute into the game, the guy starts bitching “Where is the forecheck??!!! Damn it Where is the forecheck!!!?? We’re screwed!!!”  This guy clearly had not taken his meds because San Jose hadn’t even taken a shot yet and he was already panicking.  This guy was clearly a fan for many years because he had an old 1990’s Kings jersey on, but oddly enough, winning a Stanley Cup last year hasn’t given the guy enough faith in the Kings, or prevent him from losing his mind.

Raffi Torres better be suspended for his cheap shot on Jarret Stoll.   The Kings can’t afford to lose their best face-off man for an extended period of time.  They nearly lost Drew Doughty on the same play, which would have been disastrous.

In the NHL playoffs, there is something to be said about having mental toughness and grittiness.  The Sharks have plenty of talent, but they have always lacked that type of toughness to get them over the top.  The Kings developed that part of their game last year when they won the cup, and have shown more of it the last 5 games.  They are built for the playoffs.  The Kings took the Sharks to six games two seasons ago without Anze Kopitar, and with a banged up Justin Williams, yet Shark fans seem to think they are going to take this series in 4 or 5 games from the defending cup champions.  Keep your mouth shut Nor Cal, and just keep sending us the water.