By Doug Johnson
Doug Johnson of the Puck Buddys issues this pregame report. Follow @PuckBuddys.
“Los Angeles is just New York lying down.” – Quentin Crisp
The Puck Drop: As hockey analysts go, it’s a fair bet the late Naked Civil Servant numbers among the more improbable. Yet we can’t find a better clear-eyed summation of the 2012 Los Angeles Kings than Mr. Crisp’s tart bon mot. Where the New York Rangers are a team that is on its toes, the L.A. Kings are lazing in a recumbant slough with nary the will to move. (“Someone get me a bucket!”)
Their last game before Monday’s dance with the Caps should illustrate the point. A sorry 31 shots on goal, with eight power plays (one 5-on-3) and not a single puck finds the twine? Against the Blue Jackets? At least in Versailles the ruined monarchy mustered the spirit to play a rousing set or two of tennis, and look what happened to them. Awkward!
But you can’t beat a loser with someone who isn’t there, and we’re not at all sure who of the Capitals will show up Monday ready to play – physically or tempermentaly.Prior to Saturday, the Caps last four games have seen masterly power plays, a dominating forecheck, and a genuine zeal to fight back to victory. But we’re now possibly down Backstrom and, again, Green, and Saturday’s outing didn’t dispel worries about flukey play.
So is this really what it has come to – which team looks more like it needs a fleet of Hoverounds? It pains us to say, gentle readers, that yes, that’s what it’s come to. And it is just one more reason why anything tainted by Los Angeles, and all its self-loathing narcissistic agony, quickly becomes a throbbing boil on America’s backside. Tonight at Staples, let’s do our part to lance it.
“Los Angeles makes the rest of California seem authentic.” – Jonathan Culler
It’s just about this point you might be thinking “Hoho, surely the PuckBuddys will have vile things to say about Los Angeles! Heehee, they hate everything!”
Not to sound like Mikey from the Life cereal commercial (look it up Millennials), but we don’t actually hate L.A. Friends happily live there (who we’d like to keep visiting), it often surprises with its low-key charms, and beside, it’s like beating up the kid that everyone else before you has already beat up. It’s like calling the overweight guy at work fat; he already knows he’s fat and everyone else has already thought it, so where’s the victory? No, we prefer our targets outsized and a little daring… like telling the hot guy everyone’s panting over he’s “a little played out.” #Winning.
Yet, harkening back to Mr. Culler, the subject of the King’s authenticity of late has us, how shall we say, befuddled? Confuzled? Pettifogged? Befumfered? Whatever, it leads us to:
Not… but Kinda Hot: Pretenders on the Throne. We can’t figure out who the Kings are anymore. It’s like the old game Kremlinologists would play where they would try to decipher major Soviet policy changes by how trimmed Brezhnev’s unibrow was, or the coat color of Yuri Andropov (always a snappy dresser.) It really doesn’t tell you anything meaningful, so you might as well throw up your arms and turn on Judge Judy – now there’s someone who knows what’s what!
And so it goes with the Kings. In their last ten they beat Vancouver and Chicago, but fell to Winnipeg and Colorado? We checked, and no, it is not Opposite Month, so we’re out of explanations. They’re in the League basement on goals per game (2.02) and have been kept to 2 or under in 19 of 21. And then there’s goalie Jonathan Quick (Best. Goalie name. Ever.), who is at career best levels and first in the League in shutouts.
Hot… Except When They’re Not: Princes Charming. So we pretty much already assured you of a low-scoring affair… the first time nobody’s scoring in LA! Ha! I’m here all week! That’s due in part to what we can only describe, again, as a confusing offense. Meaning, just who is their offense?
Their lines are confusing, their patterns are confusing; confusion rains down like a pestilence when they hit the ice. The only thing we’re not confused by is how gosh-darned cute they are. Yeah yeah, I know; we promised to tune down the volume and the boy stuff…but we’re only human, ya know? Davis Drewiske (2G/0A in just 7 GP), with whom we’d share a brewski, Drew Doughty (3G/13A), who looks to be very naughty, and other goalie Jonathan Bernier, which we got nothing for, stand out not so much for being really good, but making it look good. Gap-toothed center Jarret Stoll (4G/8A) likewise hasn’t been cutting it up much lately, except for the fact that he is, if you search the Googles for “definition of cut”, what the answer is. Memo to Mr. Stoll: you picked the wrong career. (We’ll leave it to your over-heated minds to finish that.)
Again, together they’re really nothing special; at least as they’re being deployed. But we think individually they have potential to start performing, and that Coach Sutter may be able to re-jigger this squad to that end. (*snigger He said end*) Also, lately the Kings seem to have our number, tallying four straight wins, and grabbing a frightening seven of the last nine. Eeep.
“The Capital of American idiots” – H. L. Mencken on Los Angeles.
The Kings have some of the deepest pockets around, thanks to Mr. Anschutz, and their home base, the Staples Center, is genuinely among the classiest arenas to be found. “Classy”, however isn’t how we would describe the Kings’ “Hooters Watch Parties” they sponsor at the gape-and-grope chain; “skeeved out” seems more apt. Perhaps they should consider Chasen’s, the Brown Derby, or perhaps Romanoff’s.*
There’s every reason for us to hope the Caps could show commanding play over a team as inconsistent as this one is. But there’s also a bunch of reasons to think that we suffer from the same affliction, and stats suggest they’re overall not that much worse than we are. “Hey Kettle, you’re black,” said the Pot.
So we will just focus tonight on the hope part. And as we prepare to crawl into our jammies (#capssleepover) for another late-night game, we leave you with the words of American icon Frank Lloyd Wright: “Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.”
*The Meme is taking the night off to ballyhoo and honor the passing of Craig’s boss, a son of Tinseltown, Mr. Tony Blankley, who lost his brave battle with cancer on Saturday night. Best known as an erudite and accomplished communicator, Tony was also an actor, with many credits to his name, appearing in Humphrey Bogart’s final film.
Tony joins another of Craig’s bosses, Mike Deaver; another proud Angelino. In two cities renown for scoundrels – DC and LA – they were two gentlemen. We can only imagine the conversation tonight in the corner banquette at one of those long-gone Hollywood haunts.
We’re goin’ to Hollywood!
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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