Shouldering The Load

Well that was the team that each and every Los Angeles Kings fan was hoping they would be after the devastating injury to Anze Kopitar. They were physical, they moved the puck around and they looked good doing it.

Justin Williams may be at 80%… but he’s still 100% good looking.

The game that Justin Williams pulled off tonight was as close to amazing as you can get in the 1st game of a playoff series. Just 4 weeks after dislocating his shoulder in a game against Calgary, Williams went out there Thursday night in San Jose and showed the hockey world that you better not count the Los Angeles Kings out just yet. With Williams scoring a goal and an assist, I am completely perplexed about how he came back from his injury so quickly.

Oh. Well that makes sense then.

Kings 2, Sharks 3 (OT)

Click Here for the Rest of the Game 1 Royal Half Recap!!!

I think it’s pretty much a guarantee that when the San Jose Sharks found out they were going to play the injury-plagued Los Angeles Kings in the 1st round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs… they cracked a smile in relief. 

Wipe that thing off your face, kid.

I have to admit… even though it goes against everything I stand for… I’m a little jealous that I’ll never get to chant “Beat LA” at a major sporting event. It actually is a pretty cool chant. If you aren’t from LA.

Really, San Jose? A Shark Themed Dunk Tank that allows you to sink a Kings fan?
And why is Holly’s boyfriend from The Office in the tank? 

As a long-suffering Kings fan… there are very few things that can bring a smile to my face. And after 8 years of not making the playoffs… this is one of them.

Hello, old friend.

I have a theory that you can directly correlate the success of a team in the playoffs to the type of rally instrument they give to fans in the first game.

White pom-poms, huh? Hmm, the Kings might actually be able to take this one.

The Los Angeles Kings lost a heartbreaker of a game in overtime 3-2. And even this cynical Kings fan was won over by their resilience tonight. It was especially impressive considering the amount of players that were making their playoff debuts.

What do you say to Kyle Clifford with 2 black eyes?
Nothing. Because he’ll eat your baby.

All season long I’ve been trying to figure out who Kyle Clifford reminds me of. Those eyes that seem to gaze off into the distance. That tilted head trying to figure out what is happening. And then tonight, it hit me… Kyle Clifford is Starman.

Environment, hostile.

Kyle Clifford wasn’t the only player making his Kings playoff debut. 

Oh my god! That is the CRAZIEST stat!
Toronto made the playoffs? I had no idea.

Without their star forward, Anze Kopitar, the Kings team that took the Sharks into overtime is a mixture of young players and grizzled veterans.

Rob Scuderi shaved a half hour before the game started.

The battle to watch over the next few games is Dustin Brown versus Doug Murray. These are easily two of the best open ice hitters in the NHL. And all they did tonight was beat each other up. And I loved it. 

“You expect me to play at least another 3 games against that guy? He’s a beast!”

Of course, everyone is talking about Jarret Stoll’s absolute crushing of Ian White’s head in the 1st period. I don’t think Stoll did this on purpose and that may be his only saving grace in terms of not getting suspended. But jesus… how is White’s neck not broken?

“Smytty, I haven’t hit anything that hard since Heidi came over to my house.”

When Dean Lombardi traded a #1 draft pick and Colten Teubert to the Edmoton Oilers for Dustin Penner, everyone thought that the Kings had solved their Left Wing Problem. Little did we know it was the 4th line Left Wing spot he’d be filling. 

“Wayne, listen to me. I’m serious.”

“No way man, I can’t believe it.”

“Yes, I had 32 goals one year.”

“No way man. No fuckin’ way.”

By the 3rd period, Dustin Penner was skating on the Kings 4th line with Trevor Lewis and Kevin Westgarth. Alexei Ponikarovsky, he of 5 goals and 10 assists this season, was elevated to take Penner’s place. It obvious that Penner is not fitting in with Coach Murray’s system but even Jim Fox called him out on the broadcast tonight for throwing his stick at the opposing player instead of skating up and taking the body. When Jim Fox is calling you out… this can’t end good. 

Yeah, I don’t think Kopitar will be adding to that number at all this season.

As the Kings forced the game into overtime, you have to think that maybe Coach Murray got his regular season strategies mixed up.

“What do you mean there is no shootout in the playoffs!?!”

There really is nothing that you can bitch and moan about tonight as a Kings fan. This team came into this series as a MAJOR underdog and nearly stole a game on the road, a game they dominated for the last 40 minutes of regulation. Do I worry about the team being able to keep this pace up? Yes. Am I curious to see what Coach Murray does with Dustin Penner next game? You betcha. Am I still trying to figure out who is more feminine… the Kings sideline reporter or the Sharks sideline reporter? Yes I am.

You might win this one too, Sharks.

The best thing about the NHL Playoffs? We get to do it all over again in 24 hours. 

The Royal Half has been a Los Angeles Kings fan since 1988 and a Half-Season Ticket Holder since 2002. He has seen the following goaltenders play in person for the Los Angeles Kings… Kelly Hrudey, Grant Fuhr, Byron Dafoe, Jamie Storr, Stephane Fiset, Felix Potvin, Cristobal Huet, Roman Cechmanek, Mathieu Garon, Adam Hauser, Jason LaBarbera, Barry Brust, Sean Burke, Dan Cloutier, Yutaka Fukufuji, Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Erik Ersberg, Jonathan Bernier, Jonathan Quick, Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones.You can follow The Royal Half on Twitter @TheRoyalHalf.