PACIFIC DIVISION GAMEDAY BREWED BY COORS LIGHT™
(*camera pans around crowd*)
Chris Fowler: (voiceover) And welcome back to NHL Gameday, coagulated by Bridgestone Tires. We come to you live from the Staples Center, our second trip this season to the House That Kobe built.
Kirk Herbstreit: Or Gretzky.
CF: (laughs) Sure, Herbie, sure.
CF: The Kings will play three division games this week, one here on Saturday. In such a crazy division, one or two games might make the difference at the end of the season between home-ice advantage and missing the playoffs.
All week people have been asking “why we aren’t you going to Anaheim for the Ducks two Pacific Division games this week?” I know Lee would like to get back to the historic Honda Center, where he has never picked against the Ducks.
Lee Corso: Nope! Never have picked against them, and I never will.
CF: But, well, nobody wants to watch the Calgary Flames.
Lee Corso: I remember one year I spent in Calgary, one season as the third-string quarterback for the Calgary Stampeders. Almost froze to death.
CF: Calgary winters do get awfully cold.
LC: Nope, teammates locked me in a meat freezer.
KH: Aren’t the Kings playing the Flames here on Saturday, though?
CF: Yeah, but c’mon Herbie, did you really want to go to Anaheim?
CF: Speaking of Anaheim, they have gotten off to a fast offensive start this season. They are sixth in goals per game, scoring just over three per game so far. But that average is only good for third in the division! San Jose and Phoenix are third and fourth in the league, respectively, while even the Flames are in the top half of the league. Coming in last in the division, and perhaps no surprise given their past, the reigning Western Conference runners-up, the Los Angeles Kings.
KH: That’s right, Chris. Their offensive woes may be overlooked by some because of their continued great goaltending. Even with starter and Team USA member Jonathan Quick going down, Ben Scrivens has stepped in and is near the league leaders in goals against average, save percentage, and he even leads the league in shutouts with three. He’s only started eight games!
CF: Good point, Kirk. We now welcome in our offensive experts, famous southern broadcaster Paul Finebaum and former Georgia Bulldogs linebacker David Pollack, to talk more about the Kings offensive troubles. Gentlemen, this Kings team won the Stanley Cup two seasons ago. They actually fired head coach Terry Murray that season, one factor was the lack of offense. Last year they go to the Western Conference Final, but now their leading goal scorer Jeff Carter goes down and it seems like they have reverted to those Terry Murray years. Where is the offense for this team, and how do they fix it? Paul?
Paul Finebaum: Let me ask you this, Chris, how does someone like Darryl Sutter get this job? Most people think it’s because of Dean Lombardi. They are friends from way back, but if the Kings don’t win that Cup, they would both be in the welfare line right now. Sutter’s like the Lane Kiffin of the NHL. He has very little knowledge of how to run an offense, but his facial expressions are just so entertaining you can’t take your eyes off of him. Take San Jose, for example. Everyone loves Todd McLellan whether he’s successful or not. He can be mediocre in San Jose because he put in his time at the lower levels. He’s a real lunch pail guy, and that plays well there. But in LA, where the lights shine a bit brighter, the Sutter act is getting tired, and I, for one, believe the lockout shortened season was the beginning of the end for Sutter. If the Kings retain him through this year, they will be making a huge mistake. Here’s to hoping Dean Lombardi can admit his mistake before they both must return to the farm in Alberta.
David Pollack: Hey, look, I agree. I mean, I may not know a lot about offense, but it’s no surprise what’s happening in LA. I know I’m gonna stick my foot in my mouth here, but, look, this is what happens when you let a guy coach who hasn’t played the sport since the 1930s. He doesn’t know the players and, frankly, he doesn’t understand the hip attitudes of youngsters today. And that’s a league-wide problem right now with these types of coaches.
CF: So, wait, are you saying old people shouldn’t coach hockey?
DP: (laughs) Well, you said that, I didn’t. But, yeah, that’s exactly what I’m saying. You can’t have old people coaching hockey and expect success. They’re just too old and Alzheimer-y.
KH: What about Joel Quennville, who has done a great job in Chicago? He’s the same age as Sutter.
DP: Look, I’m not saying all geriatrics should be shipped to Siberia to starve for the betterment of society. I’m just saying mostly all of them. Let’s say, like, 99% of them.
(*laughs at his own joke*)
PF: Kirk, listen, I’ve had conversations with Coach Q. Good man. They grow ’em well in Windsor. They call it the Tuscaloosa of Canada, so you know it’s good. But he’s just like Sutter. I agree that the game may be passing, or may have already passed, Sutter by. I don’t know what goes through the minds of these old men. They can’t compete with coaches like Patrick Roy and Dallas Eakins.
KH: Aren’t you almost sixty, Paul?
LC: Age is just a number. Don Cherry told me that once, and he looks better now than he ever has.
CF: Okay, staying on the topic of age, what do you guys think of the 20 year old rookie in San Jose, Tomas Hertl?
PF: I don’t know where to begin. It bothers me, because he makes a mockery of the game. I mean, you just scored four goals. Adam Oates is one of my closest friends, and he has a point. This isn’t what the NHL is about. I just can’t take it…
(*uses hands to fan himself*)
…I don’t understand. Where has it all gone so wrong? I like Tomas Hertl, but he’s just not your typical NHL player. He’s not a guy Nick Saban would recruit.
LC: (interrupting, and pointing wildly at Finebaum) That’s what I’m saying! That’s what I’m talking about!
PF: You just can’t act that way and not expect a guy like Todd Bertuzzi to take care of business on his own one day. Hertl and players like him are the reason the NHL fights so many legal battles.
DP: Look, I get it. When I watch what he does, I see a cocky young man. Maybe confident, but a cocky young man. You could say cockident, even. But, it’s easy for us to say what or what he shouldn’t have done. But, he’s just 20 years old. Imagine you are 20 years old.
PF: I can’t.
DP: You have all of this talent, you’re trying to impress a bunch a guys that have been around forever. You have a chance to go to a Drake concert with Johnny Manziel and Lebron. I would have done the same thing. He’s going to make mistakes, but he has YOLO SWAG…
DP: …and knows how to play the game. Knowing how to play the game will serve him well throughout his career, how ever long it may last.
Plus, he speaks some crazy foreign language and doesn’t understand English anyway. So, who cares what we say about him? I mean, he’s like a younger hockey version of Cris Carter; all he does is score goals!
(*laughs at his own joke*)
KH: (to himself, into an open mic) What does that even mean?
PF: I see what you mean, but young players like Hertl and Yakupov are ruining the NHL. We need to get the youth out of the league, or Gary Bettman will have a mess on his hands.
CF: Alright, thank you for your input gentlemen. The Kings play Hertl and the Sharks in San Jose on Wednesday.
And, for our sponsors, I sincerely apologize for the last segment.
Coming up we’ll preview the Kings game against the Canucks in Vancouver on Monday, and then talk to Edmonton Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish and ask him who he expects to take with the first overall pick in next year’s NHL Entry Draft. You’re watching NHL Gameday on ESPN, live from Los Angeles.