Stomach-punch losses

One of the reasons Bill Simmons is so successful as a sportswriter is his ability to wrap the fan perspective into all of his writing. He’s not an “objective” journalist. He doesn’t hide his emotions, and he pours his heart out when his team loses.

He’s also funny as hell, and mixes in pop culture references better than anybody in sports media.

His latest column is a classic, as he recounts his young daughter’s love for the Los Angeles Kings, and how she experienced her first “stomach-punch loss” recently when the Kings couldn’t close out the Devils in Game 5 last Wednesday.

So Wednesday’s game … man.

I tried to warn her. I tried to prepare her: “Look, this is sports, you never know, you can’t just assume they’re going to win.” She wouldn’t hear it. She kept saying, “Dad, stop it, just stop. They’re going to win.” She had the whole night planned in her head, inadvertently jinxing it with questions like, “Who gets to hold the Cup first again?” and “How long will they pass it around?” She insisted on arriving 40 minutes early for warm-ups. On the way there, she leaned out her window and waved to anyone wearing a Kings jersey. We made it downtown and realized it had morphed into a sea of Kings jerseys — more than we had ever seen. She was delighted.

“Look at all the jerseys!!!!” she gushed. “Did the Lakers ever have this many?”

And I just watched the whole thing happen, unable to stop it, knowing the entire time, “Oh God, tonight’s probably the night … her first stomach-punch loss.”

The night ended with his daughter sobbing in their car on the ride home. After last nights loss in New Jersey, the pressure is suddenly on the Kings in game 6. Hopefully she and other Kings fans can celebrate a win that will feel even better after the disappointment of the last two games.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Kings set franchise record for consecutive wins

Los Angeles Kings

Down 3-0 to the Red Wings at the start of the second period, the Kings magically rallied to tie the score. With 2:21 left to play, the Kings’ Michal Handzus suddenly knocked in his second goal of the game to help the team win their ninth straight — a franchise record.


Alexander Frolov, Handzus and Ryan Smyth scored in the second period, and Jonathan Quick made 20 saves in his NHL-leading 34th victory. The Kings surpassed the Second Six franchise’s eight-game winning streaks established by Wayne Gretzky’s 1991-92 team and the 1972-73 squad.

Los Angeles needed just two shootout victories to establish this mark with a roster that’s only now discovering what it can do. After a midseason swoon that dropped them from first place in the Western Conference to the middle of the pack, the Kings have moved back up to third with their 11th victory in 12 games.

“We have a lot of confidence right now, and we know that if we stick to our game, most nights we will be successful,” said Handzus, who also had an assist to give him six points in the last two games. “We knew we didn’t play well in the first period. … We decided not to try and hit a home run. We just wanted to try and score the first goal and go from there. It’s great, and a great comeback for us.”

I was at this game and it was one of the most exciting turnarounds I’ve ever seen. The Staples Center was absolutely lifeless for the first period, stunned by the Red Wings’ instantaneous three goals. Truth be told, since the Kings were coming off a hard-fought victory against the Ducks just last night, I expected them to lose. The team just looked drained, so I resigned myself to leaving after the second period if they hadn’t scored. To everyone’s surprise, they beat the talented Red Wings, simply by turning up the intensity.

2009 NHL Preview: Los Angeles Kings

We’ve partnered with On Goal Analysis to bring you a team-by-team preview of the upcoming NHL season. (Just scroll down on the OGA website and hit the calendar.) Here is the preview for the Los Angeles Kings…

Team Play: ISSUE – Assembling the Puzzle. The Kings bottomed out in 2006-07, and have steadily improved since. On paper, it appears GM Dean Lombardi has collected enough pieces to assemble the puzzle – a Stanley Cup Playoff-caliber team. In July, LA made a couple of significant moves: On July 2nd, they signed free agent blueliner Rob Scuderi from the Stanley Cup Champs. The next day, they sent defensemen Tom Priessing and Kyle Quincey to Colorado for power forward Ryan Smyth. Trade rumors continue to swirl around the Kings (including the now-debunked myth of LA being part of a three-team deal with Ottawa and San Jose involving Dany Heatley), but the thinking here is that unless someone makes Lombardi an offer he can’t refuse, he’ll now put the roster in the capable hands of Head Coach Terry Murray, and see what sort of team the coach can assemble.

One thing is certain: it will be a young team, as 33-year-old Ryan Smyth instantly becomes the oldest forward (in fact, Michal Handzus (32) and Raitis Ivanans (30) are the only other forwards over the age of 27), and four of the Kings’ top six d-men will be 26 or younger…Oh, yeah: Erik Ersberg, 27, is the only goalie on Los Angeles’ training camp roster over the age of 23.

Look for the Kings to continue to improve in 09-10, but in a very tough Western Conference, their playoff chances will depend just as much on other teams’ failures as on their own successes.

Click here to read the rest of the preview (which includes the site’s unique Playoff Qualifying Curve and fantasy information) at the On Goal Analysis site.

Mike Ribeiro has some moves

Check out this shot by Stars’ players Mike Ribeiro, who went between his legs with the puck during as shootout against the Kings:

Sarah Palin may soon curse another NHL team

The last time vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin dropped the ceremonial first puck before a NHL game was during a Flyers-Rangers contest in mid-October. The Flyers haven’t won since.

Apparently Palin will soon cast her destruction on yet another hockey team.

Sarah PalinVice presidential candidate Sarah Palin will drop the ceremonial first puck Friday night before the St. Louis Blues’ game against the Los Angeles Kings.

The Alaska governor and self-described “hockey mom” also dropped the first puck Oct. 11 before Philadelphia’s home opener against the New York Rangers.

Palin will attend a rally Friday morning in southwest Missouri. Demand for tickets for the Springfield event prompted the GOP to move it from a university arena to the parking lot at Bass Pro Shops to accommodate the expected crowds.

Sorry Blues fans. You had a nice run, but that 4-2 start will be nothing but a distant memory once “Jinxsy” gets through with you.

Related Posts