Met up with The Brother at Staples and headed over to L.A. Live (which was gorgeously lit and decorated for the holidays) for dinner. We ended up at Trader Vic's and had a delicious meal. This is what I had:
I also had Trader Vic's Grog, a tasty mix of dark rum, pineapple and passion fruit. I had to restrain myself to only one. It was really good. I may have actually ordered it as "Trader Joe's Grog"; obviously I need to get out more. The Brother had a steak and a margarita and enjoyed his meal as well.
After that we headed over to Staples Center and behold the view from our ridiculously awesome seats:
When the players were near the glass it felt like I could almost reach out and touch them. The up close view also gave me a better appreciation of how fast these guys and the game are moving out there on the ice.
The anthem was sung by a young girl who, despite stuttering on a couple lyrics early in the song, recovered to deliver a fantastic performance. She had an amazing voice and really wowed the crowd. Jonathan Bernier was in net, which was a bit of a disappointment as The Brother and I are diehard members of Team Quick, but Bernier played well and that's the important thing (Quick went on to shut out the Sharks in San Jose the next night).
All the scoring happened in the second period. Wayne Simmonds scored just 15 seconds in, but the Ducks scored less than a minute later, which kind of took the wind out of the Staples Center crowd. Luckily that was all the net Anaheim was going to get that night. By the end of the second Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams and Dustin Brown had beaten Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, who was pulled after Brownie's goal. Final score: Kings 4, Ducks 1. The three stars were all Kings: Kopitar, Jack Johnson and Bernier. Official recap is here.
Thanks again to The Brother for springing for such awesome seats. We had a blast and fell madly in love with these seats. If either one of us wins the lottery, they will be ours. Being behind the penalty boxes was a lot of fun because whenever a Duck was penalized, Bailey (the Kings mascot) would come down right next to the box and give the player all sorts of grief. Bailey is a fantastic mascot, funny and enthusiastic as hell. It really added to the experience.
I continue to marvel at how wonderfully L.A. Live has rejuvenated the downtown area. As a lifelong Southern Californian, I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea of DTLA as a desirable destination. AEG has done a fantastic job with the development and the Kings organization has done a great job of making the game more than just a game, but a fun, energetic experience. Kudos to a truly classy team that the city can be proud of.
Staples Center is a beautiful arena. The only other arena I've ever been to is Anaheim's Honda Center, which pales next to TSC, but I'm guessing Staples is among the premiere NHL buildings.
Unfortunately for the Kings, things have gone seriously south for the team since the December 27 victory at San Jose. As of today, they've lost five straight, not good in a conference as tight as the West, where right now just a few points can take you out of playoff contention. They were so dominating before, but lately it's like they can't do anything right. The Staples crowd even booed them the other night after the loss to Nashville. They play Columbus tonight and are getting a couple of injured players back (Willie Mitchell and Alexei Ponikarovsky) so the fans are hoping this will get them back in the win column.