Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hockey 'tard (if you'll pardon the expression) at large

So yesterday some hack from a San Jose paper, possibly still stinging from the Sharks humiliation at the hands of the L.A. Kings Saturday night or perhaps just suddenly becoming aware of the print media's rapid decline into irrelevance and seized by a desperate need to justify his continued employment and existence, decided to needlessly insult and piss off Kings Nation by insinuating that our arena is a dead zone that actually benefits the visiting team.  Anyone who has ever set foot in Staples during a Kings game can tell you that nothing could be further from the truth and that the place gets even crazier in the post season, something that dates back to the Fabulous/Great Western Forum days.

But in the grand tradition of today's failing media, Mark Purdy of the Silicon Valley Mercury News wasn't about to let any pesky facts get in his way.  Some "highlights" from Purdy's "column" (with my comments in italics):
So. Big home-ice advantage for the Kings, right? At playoff time, the National Hockey League is famous for impossibly raucous, loud and intimidating buildings.
Staples Center is not one of them, though.
Yet as hockey venues go ... well, if HP Pavilion can be a Metallica concert when the puck drops, Staples is more of a Kenny G experience.
So apparently Kenny G wins big over Metallica when it comes to having dedicated and die-hard fans who will stick it out until the end of the show, as opposed to Sharks "fans" who departed Game 2 en masse early because their team was losing.  Have these people ever watched a hockey game?  Because if they had they'd know how quickly things can turn around in this sport which is why you NEVER leave a hockey game early and ESPECIALLY not a friggin' playoff game.  Way to support your team diehards.  Seriously, by the time the final buzzer sounded in Game 2 a good third of the crowd had already bailed.  It looked like a Dodger game.
"The Kings are a strong defensive team," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I don't think it had anything to do with the building."
It might, however, have something to do with the NHL's rule about home teams receiving the last line change during clock stoppages.
What that means: Kings coach Terry Murray can match up the players he wants against whichever Sharks players skate out for a faceoff.  
First of all, we know what "that" means.  Thanks anyway for the remedial hockey lesson.  Another thing we all know: the line change advantage is true of any NHL arena and therefore has nothing to do with Staples.  I believe the expression we're looking for here is "grasping at straws".
Of course, if you were watching Game 1 and Game 2 closely, then you noticed that the Kings were usually able to get defensemen Rob Scuderi and Willie Mitchell onto the ice against the Sharks' top line of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Devin Setoguchi. All three are scoreless in the series.
Um, Mitchell is actually paired with Drew Doughty, who finally remembered who he was Saturday night and as a result proceeded to personally destroy the Sharks, snagging two goals and two assists while Mitchie minded things at home.  So yes, the Kings dominate defensively; Purdy got that much right.  However, it's their game plan every night and not exactly a state secret or journalism career-making observation.
Douglas Murray (no relation to coach Terry)...
Hard to believe when you consider what an unusual name "Murray" is.  I mean, how can they not be related?  Not that that has anything to do with hockey, plus wouldn't Sharks fans know this by now?  As as a writer, I file this under "padding your essay and hoping the instructor won't notice you're totally winging it."
Concentrating better should also be less problematic in a non-riotous place such as Staples.
Winning at Staples won't be a snap, especially with the Kings so jacked up about a potential first-round upset. But at least the Sharks' attention won't be diverted by an overwhelming din.
Your choices of responses to this article are as follows: A) Purdy has never been to a hockey game at Staples Center but shot his mouth off anyway; B) Purdy has never been to a Kings playoff game at Staples Center but shot his mouth off anyway; C) Purdy is an idiot about to discover firsthand that karma and payback are unforgiving identical twin bitches or D) All of the above (aka Things That Come Back to Bite You In the Ass When You Don't Know What the Hell You're Talking About But You Shoot Your Mouth Off Anyway).
In contrast, check out this observation of the playoff atmosphere at Staples by ESPN (from my Kings hockey is almost upon us post from last October, bold added):
I caught two playoff games at Staples Center this past spring and thought the roof was going to collapse. It's amazing to see hockey back in L.A., and this team shouldn't disappoint. Drew Doughty, Willie Mitchell, Rob Scuderi and Jack Johnson as your top four on D? Hello!
Let's face it, ESPN >>>> Mercury News.

I don't know if Purdy is really that ignorant of Kings fans and Staples Center crowds or if he just saw this as a way of getting his name all over the hockey portion of the internets.  Either way, he has gotten his name all over the hockey portion of the internets and has lit a fire under an already fired up Kings team and their fans:

Screen shot 2011-04-19 at 12.23.21 PM

Getting back to the empty seats littering HP Pavilion when the Sharks were being shutout by Jonathan Quick and Friends, they were so numerous that even the Sharks players apparently noticed, prompting Sharks rookie star Logan Couture to tweet after the game pleading with their fans to forget San Jose's tendency to choke in the playoffs and hang in there:

Screen shot 2011-04-19 at 9.17.27 AM
It was RT by the team's mascot but when I went back to get a screenshot of it, I couldn't find it on his Twitter feed.  Deleted?  No matter, I had already responded to it and therefore captured it for all eternity:

Screen shot 2011-04-19 at 9.15.36 AM
In fact, I had tweeted this observation earlier, before the game was even over:

Screen shot 2011-04-19 at 9.15.52 AM
So I don't want to hear any crap about Kings fans or Staples Center failing when it comes to the playoffs.  Especially not from San Jose.  In just a few hours Mark Purdy is going to find out just how loud and raucous Staples Center is and how much better Kings fans are than Sharks fans.  As frustrating as they can be at times (and bless their hearts, they can be extremely frustrating at times) Kings fans are passionately crazy about our team and for his sake I hope Purdy comes prepared with earplugs.  Or maybe a sound-proofed room to lock himself into.

I also hope he won't mind seeing this tonight, as this is usually what happens when the Kings win:

Hot D-Man on Goalie action!  No, non-hockey peeps, it doesn't mean what you think it means.  Having said that, don't you just want to throw rice at them?  Get a room you guys!


Smoochie photo credit: Danny Moloshok (AP) although at this point pretty much every Kings fan online has saved it to their hard drive for many future references.  Mr. Moloshok, you have our eternal gratitude for this shot.

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