Saturday, December 31, 2005

UC Berkeley 68; UCLA 61

Pretty weak performance by the Bruins this afternoon. They were dominated on the glass, they missed open shots when they really needed to make them, and they were ultimately undone by freshman mistakes at the end.

Berkeley is very long in the interior, and it's tempting to say that the injuries to Hollins and Fey really hurt against a team like Berkeley. But since Hollins and Fey aren't threats offensively, and since they don't really play defense, and since they don't rebound, it's hard to say their absense made a difference. Maybe if the Bruin bigs had been in foul trouble all afternoon, you could make that case.

Shipp looked a little slow, which is to be expected. Coming off of a big injury as he had, it's often the second game where you really feel it. He still contributed, but he and Farmar missed back to back wide open threes from the left baseline with the Bruins trailing that were key misses (Afflalo missed a wide open three minutes later). Despite the poor play from just about everyone except Afflalo and Alfred Aboya (who had a bit of a coming out today), the Bruins still had a chance to win or at least send the game to overtime. Afflalo made a great strip on a penatration by Ayinde Ubaka, only to have Daren Collison get greedy and screw it up. Collison, instead of securing the loose ball, tried to rake the ball to himself as he started down court to start a fast break before he had possession. He never got close enough to the ball, Ayinde got it back, and laid it in for a four point lead, and UCLA never had a chance after that. Trailing by three with under a minute to play, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (who still led the team in rebounding despite grabbing only four who failed to lead the team in rebounding for the first time this season) ran away from the inbounds play when UCLA needed to foul, proving that he still has a few things to learn as well.

The old maxim is that to win the Pac 10, you need to win your home games, and split on the road. UCLA is now already behind the game with this loss, and it doesn't get any easier, with the Arizona schools next, followed by the Washington schools. At the end of the season, when UCLA is watching Berkeley, Arizona (who won at U-W today), or Washington celebrate a conference title, they're going to remember this one.

Friday, December 30, 2005

UCLA 71; Stanford 54

After 8 straight losses at Pauley to the Cardinal, the Bruins finally put on a good performance at home against Stanford and raced out to a 17 point advantage that would end up being the final margin. No lackluster defense that led to a blowout. Now unconscious perfomance from Chris Hernandez. No subtle "coach's kid" cheapness from Dan Grunfeld.

Instead, the Bruins brought their great post defense from the Michigan game, and Aaron Afflalo continued to make his case for being one of the best off guards in the country, tying his career high with 23 points while draining three more three-pointers on five attempts. The Bruins raced out to an 18-1 lead with contributions from all of the starters, including Josh Shipp, making his first start and getting his first minutes of the season. If this is only a beginning, than it was a great sign for the Bruins, as Shipp poured in 11 points in 29 minutes, albeit on only 4-11 shooting (but 2-4 from three point land). They needed those minutes, because foul trouble and a twisted ankle limited Jordan Farmar to only 14 minutes. No word yet on the extent of the injury. With Ced Bozeman sidelined due to a rotator cuff injury, the burden fell to Darren Collison to carry the load at the point, who only added four points, but also picked up 8 assists against five turnovers.

No action from the bi-injured FeLlins, but really, who cares at this point. Lo Mata has really improved on the defensive end. Only four boards, but three blocks. Ryan Wright and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute can already do two pretty big things that FeLlins can't: 1) Rebound (they combined for 16, 12 from LRMAM) and 2) catch passes into the post. Of the many frustrations that FelLins has been responsible for over the years, none has been more of a thorn in my side than its inability to catch passes into the post. And LRMAM, damn, what a freaking rebounder.

Great start to the conference season, and another test awaits with UC Berkeley on Saturday. A post oriented offense with Leon Powe up front, I suspect we'll see a lot of what we saw against Michigan, and that's quick double teams in the post. The big men defend well enough, and the guards are quick enough to make this work (although poor shooting from Daniel Horton helped in the Michigan game).

One down, seventeen to go.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Light Posting

Christmas break. Family in town. Kicked out of my old bedroom, where the computer resides.

Just got back from the crowdedest place on earth. Ugh.

Friday, December 23, 2005

UCLA 86; Sac State 56

Remember what I said the other day about 20-30 point wins and burying bad teams? Well, that's how you do it. And it's about time.

Oilers 5; Kings 3

Missed most of this one other than the third period, which I guess means I would have been better off missing the whole thing. Bad defense in the third, combined with untimely penalties, a horrid power play, and a lot of luck for Edmonton led to the two goal loss. Some times you just don't get the bounces, and when you have slap shot deflected to the skate of an opponent who is able to kick it in, when you lose a face off that no one even touches, it's just not your night.

It's not the same rivalry it once was, and maybe it's because I'm slightly buzzed right now, but I really fucking hate Edmonton, and quite frankly, I don't think they're that good. Of course, many nights, I don't think the Kings are that good either. I think that in a seven game series, the Kings would win, but they really need to get better, soon, in two areas:
  1. The power play is awful. They couldn't even gain the zone on a 5 on 3, and it led to a penalty that cost them the extra man.
  2. Face offs. I know Belanger is hurt, but they have to have someone who can win a draw once in a while. This is getting ridiculous.
Another big one Monday night against the Sharks. Let's hope some guys get healthy in the next couple of days and that the Kings give a little bit better effort.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Nothing happened. Which is exactly as it should be when I'm on vacation.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Who are the assclowns running FSN? UCLA and Illinois talk below.

It's like they chose tonight to specifically piss me off. We don't get the Kings game, but we get the sucks game. We don't get the Bruins game, but we get the U$C game. What the fuck?

Anyway, Kings with a great comeback get four goals in the third period and beat Calgary after getting only two shots in the first period. Wish I could tell you more, but see above.

On the other end of things, the Bruins are making me glad that this game isn't televised, as they seem to be having big problems handling that national powerhouse from Wagner, on their own freaking court, no less. As I write this, they're down 8 with under 10 minutes to go, and I'll predict right now that UCLA is going to lose this game. It doesn't matter who's playing. It doesn't matter who's coaching. It doesn't matter who they've beaten on the season. When they play these games, they simply refuse to show up.

What do I mean, exactly? Let's look at a study in contrasts. The same team Coppin State team that UCLA trailed at halftime was held to 12 points in the first half against Illinois, who beat them by 20. Good teams don't just beat the teams they're supposed to beat. They hammer the teams they're supposed to beat. And everyone is going to have a down game sooner or later. Hell, Illinois barely beat Wichita State. But other than that game, their only single digit victories (no losses) have come against a ranked North Carolina team at Carolina, and a decent Xavier team in Chicago. Meanwhile, the Bruins have had scares against Coppin State, Albany, and Drexel. The Illini have won 5 games by 20 or more points, and 3 of those by 30 or more. Meanwhile, UCLA has no 20 point wins (one 19 point win against Delaware State). See what I'm getting at? I don't know if it's the coaching. I don't know if it's the players that come out of Southern California. I don't know if it's the lackadasical crowds. But UCLA simply doesn't hammer the teams that they should hammer. And quite frankly, it gets to be damn frustrating. It doesn't make it any easier to take when you realize that across town, U$C is taking it to Carolina right now.

Speaking of hammering teams, the Illini absolutely demolished Missouri tonight in the annual bragging rights game, the sixth straight win for the Illini in the series, going back the first year with Frankie Williams (my second year in law school). Dee and Augie will graduate having never lost to Mizzou. Honestly, this is as much a rivalry as UCLA-U$C has been in football lately. Dee led the Illini with 17 points as he shot the ball well again. Jamar Smith continues to be a joy to watch shoot. And the defense remains stifling. I don't know what difference he would have made last year, and maybe when all is said and done, we'll be glad he redshirted, but I can't help but think it would have been nice to have Brian Randle and his athletic ability on defense against North Carolina. But I understand that wall had been riding him all day and Randle had to take care of business. Sure, he broke his hand and missed the season when he punched that wall, but from what I hear, the wall hasn't trash talked him since.

68-68 with a few minutes to go, UCLA with the ball. They just might pull the escape yet again.

**Update** UCLA wins 74-72. Ben Howland doesn't like to play a tough schedule. If he can't get the team to play any better than this against inferior opponents, maybe he knows more about his ability to beat the big boys (or lack thereof) than we do.

Christmas Comes Early (But possibly so does Grinch)

Haven't seen this reported anywhere yet (update: has it), but my brother just called and told me that he heard a report that Steve Finley has been traded. That's the good news. I assume the report is coming from ESPN radio as heard in Anchorage, Alaska. Now the bad new: They got Edgardo Alfonzo in return. The good news is that we get rid of a 40 year old center fielder with no range who put up a 73 OPS+ last year. The bad news is that we get a broken down 32 year old third baseman who hasn't had a triple digit OPS+ in three years. The salaries wash, and right now, I don't know how long Alfonso has left on his deal.

What does this mean? Could be a few things. Here's my best case, worst case, and most probably case:
  • Best case: Erstad to center; Kotchman to first; Figgins to everywhere; Alfonzo to the bench or released; McPherson to third; with Rivera being the DH when the schedule permits.
  • Worst case: Erstad to first; Figgins to center; Alfonzo to third; Kotchman to DH/bench; Rivera to DH/bench; McPherson to DH/bench
  • Probable case: Erstad to center; Kotchman to first; Figgins to everywhere; Alfonzo to third; McPherson to bench
Let me be clear. Barring any unforseen injuries or failure to produce during spring training, if McPherson is not starting at third or as the every day DH next year (assuming he DH's because Figgins is at third), I'll be pissed. If Alfonzo does start at third next year, I'll be pissed. If both happens, nothing in my apartment is safe.

I swear to god, I'm gonna break something if the Angels start Alfonzo at third this year over D-Mac.

Rogue Wave w/ Irving and Mazarin @ the Troubador - 12/20/05

I wasn't home more than 24 hours before I got a call that a friend's sister had an extra ticket to this show, and I've missed Rogue Wave the last couple of times they were in Chicago, so I thought I'd take advantage. I was introduced to these guys back in summer '04 when they opened for AC Newman at the Bottom Lounge in Chicago, and there were one of those opening acts that made a big enough impression that I bought their CD afterwards.

First time I've ever been to the troubador. Really small and intimate venue. Great place to see a show. Kind of reminded me a shrunken down version of the Metro, shallow and wide. We got there before the doors opened, and waited for will call for a while, but we were still inside well before Marazin took the stage. Never heard of them, but they're a typical four piece, more or less straight forward indie rock. Definitely better than adequate for an opening act, and I'll be checking some of their stuff out on Rhapsody.

Next up was Irving, a five piece out of San Francisco in which everyone sings at some point, and at least three different guys took over lead vocals from time to time. Hard to describe them except to say imagine a band from San Francisco with guys wearing sweater vests and playing sort of California tinged pop, and that's pretty much what you get. They were very good though, and quite honestly, this was one of the better two-opening-act shows that I've ever been to.

Speaking of opening acts, Rogue Wave joins the likes of BRMC, Stereophonics, the High Dials, and number of other bands I can't remember right now that I first saw as opening acts before later seeing them headline. They remind me somewhat of Earlimart, in that their recorded music is fairly mellow and somewhat quiet (give or take a couple of songs), but in concert, they're very upbeat and very loud. Really a terrific band to see in person. Here's my incomplete and out of order setlist®:
  • Bird on a Wire
  • Publish My Love
  • Love's Lost Guarantee
  • 10:1
  • California
  • Are You By My Side*
  • Medicine Ball
  • Temporary*
  • Every Moment
  • Kicking the Heart Out
  • Sewn Up
  • Falcon Settles Me
  • Endless Shovel
  • Man-Revolution
* Not sure if they played this, but I think they did. I probably missed a couple on their, and if they played any B-sides/new tracks, I didn't pick up on those. Zach Rogue started the encore by playing a couple of songs solo acoustic, which was kind of cool, and made me think of the Starsailor set I saw when they opened for The Charlatans a few years ago. He played Man-Revolution in that bit, and it sounded fantastic.

This was the end of their tour, as Zach mentioned a couple of times, so you could sort of sense that they weren't holding anything back, and they had a sell-out crowd in the tiny room, so there was a lot of energy going in both directions. Considering I had no plans to see any shows while I was home, and this one just fell into my lap, it was definitely worth the few hours. $5.50 for an MGD is a little steep, but other than that, it was an excellent evening.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Kings 4; Canucks 3 (F-SO)

Another game in which you really can't say the Kings outplayed their opponents, but you can't say they didn't earn the win. They got behind early on a couple of pretty nice goals, especially the fist one from Markus Naslund. When the Kings took the penalty that led to the second goal, I said to my dad "if they score here, it could get ugly quick." But the Kings fought back with goals from Roenick (with a rocket shot, but man what a pass from Demitra), then Armstrong off of a nice pass from Roenick. Despite falling behind in the second period, they came back yet again on another beautiful feed from Demitra to Conroy for a short hander. For the second time in three games, they fought their way to overtime, then a shoot out, where Frolov scored for the second time in as many game. It was all they'd need, as Kings goalies remained perfect, with Garon stopping all three shots, including a fantastic save on Markus Naslund's attempt.

Great moment in the first period as Avery fought Jovanovski to a draw. They can say Avery turtles all they want, but during the scrum before the fight, Jovo lost his helmet. As they skated around before the fight, Avery flipped his off to make it a fair fight. Gotta love that.

The slump appears to be over. They aren't playing tremendous hockey, and other than maybe against Phoenix, they certainly haven't won overwhelmingly, but they're getting excellent goaltending, and the power play seems to be coming around a bit. They've scored a heck of a lot of short-handed goals as well. Seems like they're scoring shorties like they did when they had Russ Courtnall. Anyway, two points is two points closer to a playoff spot.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Kings 4; Coyotes 1

Didn't see all but the last ten minutes or so, as I was at the company holiday party. Another great effort from Garon, on back to back nights, no less. Also nice to see Demitra on the scoreboard, and Corvo with his fifth. Another power play goal, so maube that's starting to come around as well.

I'll be back in the sunshine of LA for the next cople of weeks, so the games will be starting a couple hours earlier. Don't know how blogging will be affected. Probably not very much.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

UCLA 68; Michigan 61

College basketball is a guard dominated sport, and UCLA did nothing to disprove that notion today, with Farmar, Afflalo, Bozeman, and Collison combing for 54 of UCLA's 68 points. It was a game of runs, with Michigan jumping out to an early 8-0 lead before Afflalo found his stroke and shot the Bruins into the lead. The teams see-sawed until the Bruins pulled away in the middle of the second half, opening an insurmountable 14 point lead. Michigan put a late scare into the Bruins, but a big steal by Afflalo, followed by a dish to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute who dunked it home put the game away. Ryan Wright added the exclamation point with a breakaway dunk at the end.

There's certainly reason for optimism. This team is almost all youth, with Ced Bozeman being the only upperclassmen getting measureable minutes, and those may be cut a bit as Josh Shipp gets healthy (although Howland will probably find ways to take minutes away from the less effective post players). Speaking of the post, Ryan Wright was solid, if unspectacular. At the very least, he shows promise, which is more than we can say for Fey or Hollins, the latter of whom showed, yet again, that he simply cannot catch entry passes. Mbah a Moute is a warrior on the boards, and I really like the potential he's showing, not to mention the game that he already has.

At the end of the game, the Bruins had 2 sophomores and 3 freshmen on the floor. With that, they beat a good Michigan team on the road. The future looks pretty good.

**UPDATE -- Now with the link that I meant to put in yesterday, the lack of which made this section below somewhat confusing.**

Hello to all the visitors from Bruin Hoop Scoop. Thanks to Jeremy for the link. FYI - I try to do game recaps and the like after all games that I can get on TV. Keep in mind that I'm coming to you from Chicago (well, usally anyway - right now I'm in Temple City, but most of the time I'm in Chicago), and we can't get every game there. I'm a UC Riverside grad who grew up a Bruins fan, then went to the University of Illinois for law school (so I'm a big Illini fan, too). Occasionally, when the spirit moves me, I'll do a more general post like this one, which is now looking foolish thanks the 11-0 (and likely to be at least 14-0) Illini. So feel free to look around, and don't be a stranger. During the baseball season, this is pretty much an Angels site. During this time of year, it's UCLA, Illinois, and LA Kings site. And pretty much throughout the year, it's an indie rock site from time to time.

Kings 4; Sucks 3 (F-Shootout)

The Kings were fantastic for the first 18 minutes. Then they figured that this was a game where they would play well, and they figured that would carry them through. They were not good for the last 42 minutes, but they had Mathieu Garon behind them, who was absolutely outstanding. And that's without taking the shootout into account. He made big save after big save in the second and third periods and kept them in the game long enough for Peter Kanko to bank in the tying goal in the third period. Congrats to Kanko on his first NHL goal in his first NHL game, and congrats to Giuliano on his first NHL point. Youth was served, as Dustin Brown added a power play goal.

Things that concern me: First of all, there's almost no puck support by the Kings. If one guy has the puck roll off of his stick, of battles to a draw on the boards, there's always an opponent on the puck, and never a King. When you aren't getting the bounces, and for the most part, the Kings aren't, that's a killer. They relied far too much on Garon all night. And has anyone seen Frolov, Demitra, and Conroy? I keep hearing their names, but I can't seem to find them on the ice.

Garon was incredible, and the shootout was just the icing on the cake. He got a bit of a break when Selanne lost control of the puck on his chance, but Scott Niedermayer made a great move, and Garon absolutely stoned him. From the TV angle, I could have sworn he scored, but man, what an awesome save.

When you win without playing your best, you take what you get, because you figure that sooner or later, you're going to start playing well again. Well, sooner is gone, and later is on its way out of the building. It would be nice to see the Kings start playing decent hockey again. But I'll gladly take the two points.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


There were so many things wrong with the way the Kings played tonight, and really, they're pretty much all things that have been happening for the last couple of weeks, that to take the time to write about all of them would be a big waste of time.

They're being outhit. They're being outskated. They're being outworked. Not just by the good teams, but by every team they play. Even Florida looked good enough to beat them the other day.

By the end of the season, they'll be luck to sneak into the seventh or eighth spot. They're still living off of that good start, but that can only last so long. 13 straight games coming up against Western Conference teams, nine of them intra-division. Fewer than 16 points in that stretch, and they're in huge trouble.

Time to sit Frolov down for a game or two. There was a lot of Frolov and Ovechkin talk before this game, but Ovechkin was so much better than Frolov tonight that you couldn't even really make a comparison. And someone give Mathieu Garon some orange juice, because LaBarbera was, well, he wasn't good.

Good God. They just lost to fucking Washington.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

New Music

And I mean really new. This is gonna be a short one, but two things I rarely do are a) get to like a band before they've released an album, and 2) get to like bands that repeat, or spell, their own name in their debut single over and over again. But thanks to 120 minutes, which I watched for like the first time in forever this week, I caught the video for this band called...wait for it....Morningwood. Seriously. But dammit if the song ain't catchy. Give it a listen. It's on their myspace site along with the video (just click the link and it should start playing automatically in a few seconds). It sounds like something I'm gonna listen to about 10 times, then probably never again. I have no idea what any of their other stuff sounds like, but hey, take it for what it's worth.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Catching up from yesterday

Kings 3; Panthers 1

I think it's safe to say that this was exactly what the Kings needed. They're still stuggling a bit on offense, but they got two goals out of the slumping Pavol Demitra, a goal out of the yet-to-break-out Michael Cammalleri, they were perfect on the PK for the first time in just about forever, and they got one on the power play (with another coming just as a PP ended). This was a game in which they weren't fantastic, but there was some improvement in every area, and a much needed two points.

Once again, Demitra converted on a shorthanded chance. Maybe one of the problems with the penalty kill has been a willingness to take too many chances for shorthanded breakaways. But when it works, it's pretty, and it can be a real back breaker sometimes. Demitra showed that he's one of the most skilled players in the league when he faked Roberto Luongo out of his pads for the Kings second goal.

Mathieu Garon is starting to take command of the starting job. It's no fault of Jason LaBarbera that Garon started his run of solid play when LaBarbera was out for personal reasons, but the Kings have needed someone to rise to the occasion, and Garon is starting to look like that guy.

The next three games are pretty critical. One against an Eastern team that they really should win, and two against divisional opponents as they start another stretch against Western Conference teams. This improvement couldn't have come at a more important time.

(11) Illinois 89; Oregon 59

This was by far the finest performance of the year for the 10-0 Illini (I'm starting to get used to these undefeated starts), and the catalyst was definitely the man they're counting on, Dee Brown. He did everything on offense. He made a beautiful no look pass to Augie, one of his seven assists against two turnovers. He stepped out and hit threes, and he took the ball strong to the basket against the somewhat undersized Ducks. This was definitely not the Georgetown team they played earlier in the week, with a 7'2" eraser under the basket, and the big guys took advantage. With Brown, Jamar Smith, and Rich McBride, this is a perimiter oriented offense, yet the big men combined for 34 points, the most surprising being the 11 points (and 8 rebounds) they got out of Marcus Arnold. The Illini dominated the glass, outrebounding Oregon 44-28.

By the way, Bruce Weber is now a pedestrian 73-9 in his time at Illinois. That's not too bad.

(16) UCLA 67; (17) Nevada 56

This one wasn't on TV here thanks to the geniuses at the Wooden Classic who signed a TV contract with KCAL. Thanks a lot, assholes.

Anyway, much needed solid victory against a good team. This was not Albany or Coppin State. Nevada can play. They beat Kansas in Kansas. They were a capable tournament team last year until they ran into the Illinois buzz-saw, where James Augustine showed Nick Fazekas how to play. This was a confidence boost, as a well as message to the national press that, yes, they are as good as their early rankings, despite the UCLA trademark crappy early season games against even crappier opponents.

Friday, December 09, 2005

JC is an Angel

Link is in the title.

JC Romero for Alex Casilla. He had a very good part of the year this season, and at times was really considered a break out candidate, although the Chronicler will be able to tell you more than I could. Here are his numbers from last season. Pretty good at Cedar Rapids, with, predictably, less success at the higher levels. He's 21, so those numbers at Cedar Rapids aren't at super prospect levels, but that's not too bad.

Romero helps the bullpen, provides solid lefty relief, and didn't cost a whole lot to get. Let's face, theh Angels are swimming in middle infielders. Looks like a good deal to me.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Wow. I know it's only 2-0 after one period, but I feel comfortable saying that this one is pretty much on the way to being over. This Kings team is S-L-O-W. They're being outplayed in every facet of the game for the sixth straight game, only one of which they've won thanks to Mathieu Garon. They're being outskated, outpassed, outhit, outshot, and just plain outclassed. Their special teams are special in that 'short-bus' sort of way. What's really amazing is that their opponents seem to know everything Kings players are going to do as soon as the Kings get the puck, which is really surprising, because I don't think the Kings have any clue what they're going to do when they get the puck.

It's too bad it's a Thursday, because if this game were tomorrow night, I could be drinking heavily. It looks like I'll be sick either way.

The snow falling outside is at least a nice diversion.


Better second half of the second period, and much better third period, but not enough, and the Kings lose their fifth in six games, and the sixth in eight games. Frolov = nothing. Conroy = nothing. Demitra = less than nothing. The Kings will not win, ever, if their top line can't produce.

Inside the wacky mind of Bill Stoneman

Bill Stoneman in today's LA Times on the decision to not offer arbitration to Bengie Molina:
"We were leaning toward arbitration with Bengie, but with the emergence of Mathis and right behind him, Mike Napoli, I didn't want to throw up a roadblock that would impede them,"
Bill Stoneman, last week: Offers Paul Konerko a five year contract which would have effectively blocked Casey Kotchman and/or Kendry Morales.

Bill Stoneman last year: Signs Orlando Cabrera to a four year deal, at last one year of which (if not two) will block Brandon Wood, Erick Aybar, or Alberto Callaspo, and hell, we'll throw in Howie Kendrick too, since he's another middle infielder.

Honestly, I don't get this deal. Mathis had a decent year, but it wasn't like he was really busting out and creating a big problem for the Angels. Another half year or so of seasoning in AAA couldn't hurt, although he's probably ready to be on a major league roster. Plus, the Molina boys haven't exactly been unbreakable. One, if not both, will break down a bit at some point this season. Worst case scenario with Bengie would have been a one year deal. My objection to retaining Bengie going into the off-season was the likelihood of it taking a multi-year deal to bring him back. With that prospect out of the way, I honestly don't see why this decision was made. It's a poor decision.

In other news, Wash is done for good, as we've known. I can see his point, though. He seems to have not been treated well by the top brass for whatever reason, but then again, he's the only one talking, so we're only hearing one side of the story. Good luck in Milwaukee, Jarrod. I'll never forget the gem against Minnesota in the 2002 ALCS, nor will I forget his first win, a fight marred evening in KC when Felix Hernandez Martinez sucker punched Frank Bolick and sent the entire Angels squad into rabid dog mode.

The Angels are working on a deal to send Josh Paul to Tampa Bay. Honestly, I can't imagine what it would bring in return. But if it brings anything of value, it's a good deal. He has a cool wife, though, one that isn't afraid to make jokes denigrating her husband's star status on the air.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

About Ready to Quit

I haven't put a lot of stock in any of the rumors floated by the LA Times this off-season, but if the reported negotiations for Mike Sweeney are true, Stoneman deserves to fired, then beaten to a bloody pulp on the rocks on the rocks in the outfield. According to the latest rumors, Kansas City asked for Kotchman AND Brandon Wood, which the Angels said was too steep. That's the good news. The bad news is that the Angels are said to have told KC that if they'd settle on a lesser prospect than Wood, a deal could get done.

Let's be honest. Kotchman for Sweeney straight up is a bad, horrible, awful, indefensible move by the Angels. Casey Kotchman will provide similar production to Sweeney over the next two seasons, and he'll do it for about $20MM less, and when those two years are up, the Angels will still have him for a few more years before he hits free agency, eliminating the need to make another insanely stupid trade in two years. And that doesn't even take into account the fact that they'd be giving up ANOTHER prospect in this deal. And the really bad news is that if this is what they're considering for Sweeney, if you want Manny Ramirez, say goodbye to Kotchman, Wood, and Ervin Santana or Howie Kendrick, because it's gonna take more to get Manny than it will to get Sweeney. According to the Times, they're kicking around the idea of including Cabrera in a deal to Boston, who would trade Renteria to Atlanta to replace Furcal. This is something I could get behind. I like Cabrera, but I'm not wed to him. Let's just say that any trade that involves shedding their top prospects is going to send me over the edge.

I'll say again, if the Angels make the Sweeney move, I quit. I'll root for the Padres or something. But I can't continue to support a team this stupid.

Kings 2; Leafs 1

Earlier this year I wrote about how the Kings goalies were doing their jobs by keeping the Kings in games and giving them a chance to win, but that they weren't winning games by themselves. Last night, Garon won this game by himself. He was tremendous, stopping 35 shots while allowing only one, which was good, because the Kings only got two.

Dustin Brown, who hadn't made much noise on the offensive end in a while, got a few extra whacks at one in the first period, giving the Kings a 1-0 lead. He poked home the trickling rebound of a Matty Norstrom shot in the second (set up by a pretty pass from Belanger) on the power play in the second to make the score 2-0. Toronto got one back on a 5 on 3 after Craig Conroy, who without a stick killed two+ minutes of a double minor to Frolov, and had to be absolutely exhauste, closed his hand on the puck in an attempt to clear. From that point on, the Kings withstood the deluge, clearly outplayed for much of the rest of the game, but they hung on to win.

They were fighting Kerry Fraser in this one as well. Late in the first period, Mats Sundin took the puck in behind the net. Weaver was absolutely leveled while chasing him in one of the most blatant examples of interference I've ever seen. No penalty was called, and 10 seconds later, Norstrom was off the box for tripping. Earlier in that period, Alexander Frolov had been taken down in the Toronto zone. Frolov was called for tripping as a Leaf skated over his leg. Toward the end of the third period, A King was flagrantly tripped by a Leaf skating out of the zone, which resulted in no penalty. But, that's Kerry Fraser for you, who's always been a prick of a referee ever since he cost the Nordiques a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1985.

Back home now for some more Eastern teams. Finding a way to break the losing streak was a positive step. The Kings need to build on that and string a few wins together.

And if someone can find Frolov, Demitra, and Conroy, let them know they have a game on Thursday. They've missed the last few.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The High Dials w/ Le Concorde and Charlemagne @ Schuba's - 12/4/05

You may remember that I mentioned this band in my review of the Brian Jonestown Massacre show a few months ago. The High Dials opened for BJM that night (as did Richard Swift), but I missed pretty much all of the opening stuff, and got there in time for probably their last two songs. They sounded good, so I searched out some of their stuff, and I really like it. So a good band at a great venue for only $8? Couldn't pass it up.

The combination of the brutal cold and the fact that it was a Sunday meant that the crowd was pretty small. There couldn't have been more than 25 or 30 people for Le Concorde, about twice that for Charlemagne, and about 80-90 for the High Dials. While it would have been nice for the bands to have more people there, my selfish gene was just fine with the small crowd.

Le Concorde opened the night, and they were pretty good. Nothing earth shattering, but a nice way to pass the time. Charlemagne struck me more or less the same way. Finally at about 11:00, the High Dials took the stage. My very incomplete and very out of order setlist (more or less some stuff I remember them playing):
  • Regeneration
  • Fields of Glass
  • TV Mystic (maybe)
  • Holy Ground
  • Soul in Lust
  • Our Time is Coming Soon
  • Strandhill Sands
  • Sick With the Old Fire
  • Things are Getting Better
Plus a few more. Honestly, the titles of most of their stuff aren't quite burned into my head enough to really remember all of it. And I've been listening to both A New Devotion and War of the Wakening Phantoms so much lately that it's hard to remember if I heard the songs last night or at some other time (like today at work for example). They closed with the last one on that list, and it's really an impressive number in person. Rishi, the bass player and backing vocalist, is of Indian descent (I think). He busts out the sitar for that one, and it's about a 15 minute instrumental jam around a melody from the sitar.

These guys have been touring since something like March, so I'm sure they're ready to take a break and head back to Montreal. But even after a late show on a Sunday night (they took the stage at about 11:15), they were nice enough to hang around and chat afterward. The downside was that they were pretty much out of a lot of their merch, so although I've been listening to New Devotion on Rhapsody, I couldn't buy it last night, and I'll have to get it from their website or Amazon or something.

Chatted with Thax Douglas a little bit too last night. If you've spent any time going to small venue shows in Chicago, primarily at either Schuba's or the Metro, you've probably seen Thax. He's the heavy set guy with the big beard who reads really odd poems that are supposed to somehow relate to the band that's performing. I don't get him, really, but he's a nice enough guy, good to talk to, and it's some local color, so that was kind of cool.

Honestly, I can't reccomend these guys highly enough. If you have a soft spot for jangly psychelic-style pop/rock, they're right up your alley. The new album is a little less on the psychedelic side, but the first three tracks are really a tour de force and not to be missed. So go buy their new album. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Make that four straight

It's panic time. I missed this one because of a friend's birthday, but the Kings lose again, the "big" line doesn't do shit. It's looking like an ofer road trip. It's a long season, but it's time to start worrying. Maybe all of the pre-season predictions were accurate.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Senators 5: Kings 1; Brian "Crying Bitch" Murray -$10,000

While the puck was in play, what happened tonight didn't really surprise anyone. The Senators are very good, and the Kings are kind of OK, and playing some of their worst hockey of the season right now, so the fact that they got their ass kicked isn't exactly a surprise. Other things that aren't a surprise:
  1. Brian Murray is a punk-ass little bitch, and he has been since he was in Anaheim;
  2. Zdeno Chara is a bitch as well, for instigating a fight with a non-fighter who is about 10 inches smaller than he is
  3. Dominik Hasek continues to be the biggest bitch in goalie gear, waiting to confront Sean Avery until he had a phalanx of teammates around him, and Avery still threw a punch
  4. Chris Neil ought to sit down for about 10 games. If anyone has access to the video, watch the way he tools around center ice for a few seconds, lines Dustin Brown up, then hammers him with no provocation. It was cheap, it was dirty, and it can't be condoned by the NHL.
Right now, the Kings are not a good hockey team. Their special teams are as atrocious as they've ever been. They're completely leaving their goaltenders out to dry (memo to Matty, you need to actually go after the puck when it's behind your net). It seems like every night they hit the ice, they're playing a top goaltender, and even whent they get a rookie, they don't test him.

The good news is that they get to try to put it behind them tomorrow night against the Habs. I'll be recording it, as a friend is turning 30, and that's a great excuse to drink. Also, I hope to be celebrating the Bruins upset over U$C, and the Illini win over Xavier. But tomorrow night is the most important game in this young season for the Kings. They need to start turning things around, or things could get real ugly real fast.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Hector Cafuckingrrasco

The Angels have inked him to a two year deal worth roughly six million big ones. Not the end of the world, certainly, but not something the Angels needed to do, nor should have done. He's 36, which makes it much more likely that last year was a fluke, not a breakout, especially when you consider that he pitched in one of baseball's best pitchers parks. But why am I so down on this deal? Two words. Mark Petfuckingkovsek.

You remember Mark Petkovsek. Nice guy. Reliever. Pitched for the Angels. Came over in a trade for essentially nothing back in 1998. Pitched two years in Anaheim, one pretty good, one pretty OK. While not really a scrapheap guy, he was acquired for nothing, didn't make a ton of money (Carrasco will make slightly less from the Angels in his two years than Petkovsek made in his career). But he got the job done, then found a sucker team to sign him to a big deal, from which he was cut before his first season in Texas was over. In the meantime, the Angels got solid season from previous no-names like Brendan Donnelly, Al Levine, Lou Pote, Ben Weber, and Scot Shields. The moral of the story? Signing middle relievers to big deals is for dipshits, because they're volatile from year to year, unreliable, and no guarantee to outperform whatever journeymen flotsam and jetsam you may have in your minor leagues, or who may be available for free. That is a lesson that EVERY team should have learned from watching the Angels over the last five years. I guess it's too much to ask that for the Angels to figure it out for themselves.

Multi-year deals for middle relievers with shaky track records are foolish. It's the type of move that makes me lose a lot of faith (or least what's left of my faith) in Stoneman.

On the plus side, I'm going to take this opportunity to be the first member of the Halosphere to start calling him Pipo! I suggest the rest of you do the same.


Then again, maybe he won't be relieving. The OC Register reports the worst news of the off-season. The Angels are officially out of the Paul Byrd chase. They have withdrawn their offer. This would not be particular bad news if not for the word that Carrasco could be taking his starting role. He's started all of six games in his career. Hell, why not take the Konerko money and go after AJ Burnett if that's the case. I officially call this whole thing "stupid".

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Or at least, it would have been if anyone actually went to Blackhawks game. There was hardly anybody there. Walked up and paid $10 for my ticket (less than I paid for parking) and met up with an old CSHA nemesis to take in the game.

Wow, this team can really be awful at times. No life, no jump, a complete inability to string passes together, a non-existent power play, a horribly developed penalty kill (sag back, let them set it up, and hope they somehow miss just doesn't really cut it). As bad as they were against the Wings, they were worse tonight. At least the Wings are good. The Blackhawks flat out suck.

I question the logic behind playing Tambellini on the point on the power play. I realize that might be a role he fits into down the road, and I realize that they need to do something to shake up the power play, but asking a forward to take a defensive role in his first ever NHL game is a bit much. It almost burned them tonight.

The Kings have lost two games in a row for the first time this season, and it just gets tougher from here. Three more road games against three very good teams. This could be a very ugly road trip.


Thank the good lord that the Angels didn't go nuts and try to top the White Sox offer. From the way it sounds, the Sox let Konerko set the market with some other teams, with an agreement in place that the Sox would then match years and dollars to an extent. Now, let's cross our fingers and hope the Angels don't do something stupid like trading Kotchman for Sweeney.

It's real simple. The Angels could improve at three positions by making none, zero, nada roster moves. Kotchman to first, Erstad to center, Rivera to left, Anderson to DH, with Figgins shuttling around the diamond to give days off here and there. This would a marked improvement offensively and defensively over what the Angels were throwing out there last season. And let me make this clear: if it takes a trade or signing to move Erstad away from first and into center, that doesn't make it a good deal. This is a move that should be patently obvious, and if the Angels brass is too stupid to realize it, that doesn't mean that we should hope for a deal to be made that forces it to happen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Illinois 68; UNC 64 and UCLA 73; Albany 65

First of all, Nike, what the fuck. Those are the stupidest goddamn uniforms I've ever seen. I'm really getting sick of this crap where individual teams give up part of their individuality so that they can wear some stupid-ass jersey that Nike designs to look like every other Nike school. The guy from uni-watch said it best (regarding those lamed assed mismatching sleeves that some football teams wore):
The problem with all this -- aside from, y'know, its looking really, really stupid -- is that it creates an aesthetic connection between the mismatched-sleeve schools, so they all look as though they're playing for Team Nike instead of for themselves (just like all the teams that wear the wraparound rear bib, another Nike "innovation"). This not only waters down and cheapens the individual schools' visual identities but also perpetuates Nike's patently bogus notion that its own brand is more important than the teams' brands. Memo to Phil Knight: The swoosh draws its legitimacy from the teams that wear it, not the other way around.
Now that I have that off my chest, it's about seven months too late, but the Illini finally beat North Carolina. This is really the first game I've seen this year, so here are my impressions of the 2005-2006 Illini:
  • Sean Pruitt is a big dude. He really looks like he's bulked up since last season. Also, he gives them versatility by allowing them to move Augie to PF and Randle to small forward if they want to go big.
  • Randle is indeed a freak. Terrific athletic ability, but he can also shoot. He hit two big threes in the second half, and if he can step out and stroke it, they can field a small lineup of Brown, Jamar Smith, McBride, and Randle, giving them four shooter on the floor. Damn, I wish we'd had him last season.
  • Marcus Arnold didn't get a lot of time, but I think he looked pretty good in the first half. More front court depth. That's going to be very important at some point this season. Mark my words, at some point, a couple of Pruitt, Augie, and Randall will foul out, and Arnold will make a big shot to win a game.
  • Once again, it looks like the guy that everyone is touting as the best player will be overshadowed. Last year it was Dee who was outplayed by Deron. This year it looks like Augie is going to rise above Dee's hype, which is fine by me. They need his rebounding and scoring inside, and so far he's providing it.
  • McBride looks a lot more active this season, and he shot the ball pretty well tonight. I'm not really worried about him, but he needs to play a big role this season.
This was a pretty sloppy game. I think the freshmen were a little awed by the bright lights of national television. They'd better get used to it. Frazier didn't really handle the ball well at all tonight. Smith missed a big free throw, although the Illini came away with a clutch rebound. In his defense, he had just come back into the game and wasn't really in rythm. This Carolina team is going to be very good in a couple of years, and they'll be pretty solid this year despite all of the player losses. Still, the Illini did lead by 14 at one point, and if this game had been in Champaign or on a neutral floor, I think the final margin would have been a little closer to that.

Still, it's weird not having the same level of intensity watching this team compared to last year. Even when we weren't #1 last year, every game was so important. I remember living and dying with every possession in the Wake Forest game last year knowing that a #1 ranking could be on the line, and that stayed around all season. We're ranked fairly high this year, but no one in their right mind believes the Illini can do anything close to what they did last season. I'm able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the game. That, of course, will all change once conference season begins.

In Westwood, I fortunately changed the channel and watched some of the Simpsons (the episode where Homer goes to space) instead of watching the last few minutes of the first half. Albany went on a 14 point run in that span to tighten the game at the end of the half, and UCLA never pulled away until a lucky possession ended in a Luc Richard Mbah-A Mute offensive rebound and basket that more or less sealed the game. Just another in a long line of lackluster non-conference performances by the Bruins against weak opponents.

The big news, of course, is that Jordan Farmar could miss up to six weeks with a stress fracture. Darren Collison will get big minutes in his absence, which ultimately will be a good thing. It can only help his development. But this will be a very different team at the end of the year, as Farmar, Josh Shipp, and Alfred Aboya return to full health.

Speaking of full health, I've been impressed, yet not surprised, with what Ced Bozeman has given the Bruins this season. Over the first three years, the guy couldn't shoot. That's a problem when you're the point guard, because teams don't have to defend you on the perimeter. Also, he couldn't shoot free throws, which means putting the ball in his hands at the end of the game was a questionable strategy. The only way to improve one's shooting is through volume. You just have to get in the gym and shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. If there's one thing you can do while recovering from a knee injury, it's shoot. It looks like he worked very hard on it over the course of his recovery. In addition to his excellent ballhandling and athletic ability, he's become an outside threat, and a solid performer at the line. This is a major addition to the Bruins' versatility, and by the end of the season, he may be the most valuable, if not necessarily the best, player on the team.

The bad news is that we'll have to wait until February to really see this team at full strength. The good news is that they could very well be at top form for March.

Wings a bunch; Kings not so much

God Damn this team really pisses me off sometimes. Like tonight for instance.

And I like the new rules and all, but I must have missed the part where they outlawed checking.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Kings 6: Blues 3

If I've said once before. I've said it a thousand times. It's bad news for the NHL when Mick "Mr. Magoo" McGeough referees games played on ice that has been re-made following a visit by a circus.

This was a pretty ugly game. One penalty was called when Derek Armstrong pretty much just checked one of the Blues. Jeremy Roenick was called for a penalty when Doug Weight grabbed on to his stick, then threw himself to the ice. There were whistles, whistles, and more whistles. And the bad ice really kept the game from ever finding a good flow. But once again, the Kings offense stepped to the fore, and in the end, the big guns were behind the damage yet again.

Joe Corvo got it started with his first of two goals, finishing a cross-ice pass from Pavol Demitra for his second goal of the season. After the Blues tied it up, Corvo added his third goal of the season, and shortly thereafter, Belanger tipped home a Demitra shot for a two goal lead. It was short lived, as St. Louis took advantage of some lucky bounces to tie it up before the second period ended.

In the third period, the Kings finally put the game away. Michael Cammalleri picked up a power play goal, Jeremy Roenick added another right after coming out of the box, and Frolov ended the scoring with an empty netter (the Kings first of the year if my memory is correct).

Right now, the Kings are making me look like a freaking genius. Prior to the season, I drafted Frolov, Demitra, and Visnovski, who have all been fanstastic. Roenick hasn't been as good, but he picked up a valuable PP goal for me tonight, and Avery, a mid-season pickup, garnered me a few more penalty minutes.

I said the other day that I'd be happy with 8 points in the next five games. Two down, six to go. 15-6-1, nine games over .500 just 22 games into the season. I thought the Kings would exceed everyone's low expectations, but I didn't think they'd be this good. They're entertaining, and they're solid. Two years ago the Kings led the division for much of the season, but with the lack of depth and the injuries, the brave faces concealed deep fears that it was all a mirage, and the bottom fell out late in the year. This team is different. This team is playing well, and they're good. I don't think they've reached their potential yet. This is gonna be a fun season.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Super Furry Animals w/ Caribou @ the Metro - November 20, 2005

I'll get Caribou out of the way quickly. I thought they were really good. I'll probably listen to some of their stuff on Rhapsody if it's available. All I knew about them going in was that their very popular among the Pitchfork crowd, and they used to be called Manitoba until, hell I don't know, the province made them change their name or something. Anyway, very untraditional, very good set. Check them out.

Now for the headliners. This is the fourth time I've seen SFA, and every show has been absolutely fantastic. This one started off OK. SFA are at the point where they have so many albums (seven, plus a collection of B-sides) that you're almost never going to hear them play everything you want to hear them play. That's a given. And when you like a band's back catalog as much as I like theirs, it's almost impossible to not walk out slightly disappointed. But this show was special. This show will go down among the 60-75 shows I've seen as the one with the greatest encore of all time.

SFA generally open their show with some theatrics, but they upped the bar tonight. SFA always play with a big screen showing videos or just images or colors in the background. Tonight they opened with a video of someone in a golf cart wearing a jumpsuit with green lights all over it. This was set to the music from Rocky (not the 'Gonna Fly Now' one, but the one with the horns). The golf cart drove around to various locations and picked up four other guys in matching jumpsuits. At some point, the music switched to the A-Team theme, then back to Rocky. Don't know why. So the cart pulls into what is supposed to be backstage, and moments later, out come Gruff, Huw, Guto, Cian, and Daffyd all in matching green-lit jumpsuits. Pretty cool, really. So with that, let's get to the Incomplete and Out of Order Setlist® (although I think this one is pretty complete):
  • International Language of Screaming
  • Zoom
  • Run, Christian, Run
  • Golden Retriever
  • Hello Sunshine
  • The Horn
  • Ohio Heat
  • Cloudberries
  • Atomik Lust
  • Receptacle for the Respectable
  • Ice Hockey Hair
At this point, they left the stage. This opening set took about an hour or so. So right about now, I'm feeling slightly disappointed, as I figure the encore can't be more than three or four songs, and there's still a lot I want to hear, although Gruff did break out the celery for "Receptacle....", so that was cool. But that's when the first few bars of 'Slow Life' started up, and the band re-took the stage for an amazing 35 more minutes of music.
  • Slow Life
  • Juxtaposed With You
  • Lazer Beam
  • Rings Around the World
  • Do or Die
  • Calimero
  • The Man Don't Give a Fuck
It was flat out awesome. Every song I was hoping they'd still play, they played. Honestly, after hearing Ice Hockey Hair (which I never thought I'd hear live), I wasn't going to leave too upset. But this encore was simply incredible. By far the best I've seen. The 'Juxtaposed/Lazer Beam' back to back was, well, just try to listen to those songs live and not feel the need to move to the beat. It was like they were sandbagging. Just patiently setting up a terrific encore.

In true SFA style, the closed the set with "The Man Don't Give a Fuck" set to the video montage of Stalin, Moussilini, and for the first time I can remember, Duh-bya. It was a crowd favorite. After leaving the stage, the video concluded with closing credits, identifying the band members and crew (although something happened with the video and we missed the introductions of Gruff, Cian, and Daffyd). Anyway, probably the best show of the year so far, definitely in the top three.

For the non-Fanboy version of this review, go here.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Kings 4; Avalanche 3

Going into the recently completed three game stretch against Nashville, Vancouver, and Colorado, the conventional wisdom was that if the Kings could take 4 points from those three games, it would go a long way toward establishing their legitimacy. Here we are a week later, and the Kings beat the Canucks and Avs, and should have at least gone to OT with Nashville. It's becoming clear that this is a team that can be competitive every night. They have solid goaltending, a mobile defense corps, and enough talent up front that their third line can dominate at times.

Pavol Demitra registered his first hat-trick as a King with one beautiful goal (a nifty move on a short handed breakaway), one lucky goal (a bad angle shot that went off an Avalanche defender), and a combination of the two (a blocked pass that landed right back on his stick with a wide open corner of the net at which to shoot). Added to that was one of the prettiest goals of the night. After Sean Avery had freed up the puck in the Oilers zone, he headed for the net where Eric Belanger slipped a nice pass right back to him. Avery was stopped on initial shot, but corralled the rebound, and with some nifty stickwork, was able to beat Aebischer to give the Kings their first lead. They're now 9-3 when their opponent scores first.

This team has also shown that they can be completely dominated at times, yet still find a way to answer and find the net. There were stretches last night where the Avs were all over the Kings, and the final shot totals bear that out. But all it takes in hockey is one intercepted pass, one blocked shot, one lucky bounce, and the game can turn that quickly. Kind of reminds of a couple of games we had in Garden Grove, one in which we were outshot 36-11 and won 5-4 in overtime, and another the same season, a semi-final game, in which we were outshot 40-7 (that's not a typo, it was really 40-7) and won 3-2 in overtime. You still have to be able to finish, and this team, with it's 79 goals (tied for second in the West and fourth in the league) can finish.

Three of the next five games figure to be wins against St. Louis and Chicago (twice), with games against Nashville and Detroit thrown in before the Kings head for their first trip to the East Coast. I'd be pretty happy with eight points in those ten games.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Kings 5; Canucks 4

That was a little nerve-wracking, wasn't it. You'd like to think that if you have a four goal lead with 12 or so minutes to go that you'll be able to hang on, and I guess they did, so I shouldn't be worried. But the Kings are going to need to finish a little better in games where they have a lead.

They almost let this one get away from the early when they had power play after power play without scoring. When you get four PP's in the early going, you know the game isn't going to be called even the rest of the way, so you dig a hole for yourself. But Visnovsky really scored a great goal on the two man advantage, completely taking advantage of the screen on Cloutier. Just I when I thought they were going to relax after getting that one, Lubo added another on the same power play for a 2-0 lead. Cammy scored an absolutely beautiful goal for the 3-0 lead with a really nifty move in the slot.

That's when things started to go south. After killing a two man advantage, the Kings lost any momentum and the Canucks took over. It carried over into the third period, but just as quickly as the Canucks took momentum, the Kings came back with two goals in 16 seconds. The Kings were somehow able to withstand a furious attack in the last ten minutes as the Canucks got back to within one goal.

After the loss to Nasville, and with the Colorado game coming up, this was really a game the Kings needed to win, and despite some spotty play at times, they got it done. Nice night for the CPA line with about another 10 points. The Belanger line was flying all over the ice again. The Kings could use a little production out of the Roenick line. And it's not just him, but Cammy and Brown need to pick up the offense a little bit at even strength. The other lines are playing so well, though, that I'm not worried about them at this point.

Two more points closer to a playoff spot. Let's go get Colorado.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Nice yield from the farm

The Angels place three players on the Arizona Fall League All-Star Team. To no one's surprise, the Surprize Scorpions entire infield made the team, including Angels farmhands Brandon Wood with a .307/.375/.711 line and a league record 14 home runs (he tied last season's leading total of 8 within the first six games, Howie Kendrick (.380/.405/.603 with 5 homers and 10 doubles), and Kendry Morales (.380/.444/.598). Wouldn't have figured that Morales would outslug Kendrick with the same batting average, but whatever. Both Wood and Morales showed some decent plate patience, and I'm sure there's some things in that Kendrick line that get Rob all riled up. Jered Weaver was less than impressive, going 1-3 with a 5.47 ERA, but he did strike out 35 in just under 25 innings. This isn't a pitchers' league, and the ball carries well out there if you're a fly ball pitcher, which Weaver is at this point. He'll need to work on a sinker of some sort to even those numbers out.

Fairly successful Fall for these guys, as they pretty much did everything as expected. Let's hope the Angels don't get stupid. These guys should be in the starting lineup in a couple of years.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Well, that was fun. Kings 8; Blue Jackets 2

This one was pretty much over a few minutes after it started. The Kings got three goals in the first five minutes and they didn't stop there. I guess they learned their lesson after opening day. Couple of hat tricks between Frolov and Conroy, Cammy with a sniper like goal from the slot, and for the second straight game, Belanger was rewarded for his hard work with another goal. He's been the unsung hero for this team so far.

Garon looked solid again, starting in place of LaBarbera who left to attend to faily business.

I'm starting to get a pretty good feeling about this team. They're beating the teams they need to beat, minus the occasional Phoenix. And they don't seem to be doing because there's a sense of urgency. They're doing it just because they're flat out better. They don't outplay their opponents for 60 minutes, but nobody does. What they do is finish. In years past, they've generated plenty of opportunities, but unless Ziggy was at the end of it, the puck probably wasn't going in the net. They now have a line with three guys who can finish, and they have finishers on the other lines as well, not including the Giuliano, Cowan, Parros line, and two of those guys are playing because of injuries to Robitaille and Armstrong, who can both score. For one of the first times in recent memory, the defense is very solid. I really like the pairings, but the key is that they are all mobile. When Miller and Norstrom are your worst skaters along the blue line, you have a pretty mobile defense corps.

This is a Kings team that can play and skate with anyone, and it's the first time it's really been that way since the second half of the 2000-2001 season. Because of this, they may be able to get by with a fairly mediocre power play, though I would imagine that this unit will pick it up as they become more familiar with one another. As we get further into the season and the players adjust to the way the games are being called, special teams may take on a little less importance. And their PK, which has been very good so far, allows them to be a little more agressive at even strength.

We're only 18 games in, and there's a lot of season left, but so far, so good.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Kings 4; Blackhawks 2

This was probably the largest crowd I've ever seen at a Hawks game, which means the place was more than half full. For those that don't know, a tradition at Blackhawks games is to cheer through the national anthem. The only problem is that usually you can't tell people are cheering because there's nobody there. A little more energy through the anthem last night.

Unfortunately, there wasn't much more energy than that. As was noted by my seat neighbor, the Hawks don't do a very good job of selling the game. They do their little spiel before the players take the ice at the beginning, but there's no anouncement of the players entering the ice before the second and third periods. They rarely prompt the crowd to make noise. It can just seem kind of lifeless. Most of that is probably because the Hawks have been so bad for so long. The girls who skate around picking up the snow at the TV time outs are pretty hot, though.

Met up with a couple of guys I used to play against in Garden Grove and Duarte way back when, one of who is also a Chicago resident. Back in the mid-90's, our street team (Sloths/Gunners) had a pretty big rivalry with a team called "the Studs". It was mostly harmless, but they had a few guys I really hated, and I'm sure the feeling was mutual. The first season in which we played them, we finished 7-2, with both losses coming to the Studs (who were like 6-3 or something). We met up again in the finals and swept both games, winning game one 5-4 and game 2 3-2 in overtime. We seemed to meet up every season after that. They always had a great goaltender, but because we cut out teeth practicing against one of the best in the league, we were never intimidated by him. Anyway, one of their players now lives in Chicago and is now a Kings viewing partner.

One of the reasons that the place was so lifeless last night is because after the first 15 minutes or so, the Kings really led the whole way. Belanger's goal came kind of quickly, and quite frankly, I didn't really see it until it was in the net. Cammy's goal, however, was a true thing to behold from our seats in the upper deck near center ice. Dustin Brown, who played a great game, weaved beautifully into the zone before sliding what looked like a north/south pass to Cammalleri, who tipped it home. The next two Kings goals were both sort of similar, as Frolov and Conroy both found themselves on the doorstep with wide open nets.

Garon played a terrific game, as the Hawks were buzzing all night, and really had a lot more scoring chances than they should have had. He was under heavy fire much of the night. But he did an excellent job making the first save and controlling rebounds. This would be a legitimate goalie controversy if either guy seemed egotistical enough to worry about being the number 1.

Second place in the West as the road trip heads to Columbus. It's a tough stretch this month, so these games against bad teams take on that much more importance. When you're playing Nashville three times, Detroit twice, Colorado, and Vancouver all in the same month, you need to beat the Chicagos, St. Louises, and Columbi of league.

Friday, November 11, 2005

There's a doin's transpirin' in the Halosphere

Welcome to the group new Angels bloggers Jim Scully over at Haloville, and Chone Smith over Anaheim Angels All the Way. Someone needs to remind Chone what the official name of the team is. I'm pretty sure this is the "Rally Monkey" Sean Smith (for whom I can't find a BTF profile), as opposed to the Purgatory Sean Smith. The more the merrier.

And damn you, Chone, for stealing my template!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Red Wings 5; Kings 4 (OT)

For the first 50 minutes or so, this looked like a good team playing a great team. Despite the shots on goal, Detroit clearly looked like the superior team to me. They were getting to more loose pucks, they were getting more bounces, and they had a lot of very good scoring chances. But the Kings didn't give up. That's sort of becoming their M.O. this season. For the second straight game, they trailed by two in the third period and didn't give up. They stole a point tonight.

After the Wings opened the third period with a goal to make it 3-1, J.R. fired one past Manny Legace to bring the Kings to within one. Minutes later, Thomas Holmstrom banged home a Datsyuk pass to push the lead back to three. That's pretty much when I assumed it was over. But the Kings came right back with Conroy banging home a rebound of a Demitra shot to pull within one. Frolov netted the equalizer after stealing the puck from Jiri Fischer, then stickhandling past Legace, who had committed to the loose puck.

The overtime was pretty predictable. Whenever it looked like there was open ice throughout the game, the Wings were all over the place, and they created a lot of problems in the Kings zone. I had a bad feeling about the four on four, with the Wings able to exploit even more open ice. Sure enough, Robert Lang banged home a loose puck from Andreas Lilja to end it just a couple of minutes into the extra period.

It was former King night all over the NHL. Lang, Lilja, and Matt Schneider combined for a goal and three assists, and former King Manny Legace notched the win. Martin Straka and Olli Jokinen both scored in the Panthers-Rangers tilt. Fran Kaberle had a goal in Carolina. About the only former King who didn't have a good night was Ziggy, who had no points and was a -3 in the Pens game tonight.

The Kings come to my town on Friday to take on the Blackhawks at the United Center. The Blackhawks are simply not very good. Of course, now that I've written that, I'm sure the Hawks will somehow win. I'll be there, since the only way to see a Hawks home game is to actually go, thanks to dipshit owner, Bill Wirtz.

On a meta note, sometime over the last couple of days, this blog picked up hit number 10,000 since the beginning of May. Whoever the regular reader from Emory University is, congratulations. You win absolutely nothing but a hearty "Thank you".


There will be more here, I swear. I'm just slacking at the moment. What did I miss? UCLA getting their asses kicked, and the Kings playing one of the most entertaining third periods of the year, PLUS a shootout. Also, the fucking Blackhawks deprived me of my first in-person shout-out by scoring with 38 seconds left in OT on Sunday night.

For any Chicagoland readers, which is probably about two of you, if anyone wants to go to the Hawks game on Friday, let me know. I'm just going to buy tickets there. I'll be rooting for the Kings, so I could use some protection. Po, there might be a few beers in it for you. And I'm obnoxious like certain Red Sox fans.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

There was no game tonight

Let's just pretend this one didn't happen, and never speak of it again.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Kings 3; Stars 3; Lubo 3

Pretty ugly game, really. Too many penalties in the first two periods, and too many penalties on what were really non-penalties. But the worst game the Kings win is better than the best game the Kings lose, and this was far from their worst game.

LaBarbera continues to impress, and I think it's fairly clear at this point that the number one job is his. Garon will continue to play fairly often. I don't think it will be a typical 1-2 setup, but expect LaBarbera to get the bulk of the action until Garon takes it from him, or LaBarbera gives it up. He wasn't giving up much tonight, only getting beat on a breakaway and a freak deflection while the game was still doubt. His 1.70 GAA coming into the game led the league. Looks like a pretty good signing so far.

The offense got rolling on the power play tonight, getting two goals officially, and a third that went in just as time expired on another. Avery showed that he's not all penalty minutes and lightweight fights (something we've known for a while) by burying a pass from Frolov after Johan Hedberg and Phillipe Boucher got tangled up. Norstrom almost got his first goal of the year, but according to the box score, it went to Jeff Cowan, who honestly deserved it after throwing the hit in front of the net that got the play rolling. Demitra capped the scoring for the Kings in the third, as the CAP line continued to stay hot.

But the hero of the night was Lubomir Visnovsky, who recorded his first hat trick. The first one came on a 5 on 3, with Lubo pulling the trigger from the high slot. Hedberg got a piece, but it wasn't enough. His second goal came about 90 seconds later, as Pavol Demitra walked in from the right point before sliding the puck cross ice to Lubo, who settled it down before banging it home from a sharp angle. His third also came on the power play, this time cleanly burying a slap shot from just inside the right circle. Lubo's 18 points on 6 goals and 12 assists leads the Kings, and leads all NHL defensemen. In the new NHL, defensemen seem to be a bit vulnerable, but nimble skaters can still avoid a fair amount of punishment. Lubo needs to stay nimble and stay healthy for the Kings to be successful this season.

Don't look now, LGKers, but Joe Corvo is a +7. Yes, some of that is because he's been paired with Lubo, but most of that is because he's played very, very well this season.

What a crappy way to start the day

The Angels plan to offer new contracts to television broadcasters Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler and radio announcers Rory Markas and Terry Smith, club spokesman Tim Mead said. Their contracts had expired at the end of the season.
With the terrific John Rooney on the market, the Angels re-commit to Phys and Hud. So goes another season. On the other side, I'm actually glad that Rory and Terry are back, as I like both, even though I rarely listen to games on the radio anymore, what with extra innings, MLBTV, and the difficulties in strapping my entire computer to my back if I want to listen to a game remotely (and yes, I know I can get satellite radio).

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Hmm. Secret Admirer.

I received this email on Friday to the gmail account that this blog links to.
Subject: I love you

I do.. I work with you, you have no idea who I am. But I want you sooo bad. I love your personality, and deep down inside, you know who I am.
Interesting. No links or pictures of naked chicks or anything. It's understandable, really. I mean, I am pretty fucking awesome. I don't think it was the 'I love you' virus thing, because there was no attachment (other than emotional attachment to me, of course). But hey, if there's one thing I don't talk about here, it's work. This place is big enough to troll around for people badmouthing them on the web, and I certainly don't need that headache.

Anyway, it beats getting trollish comments from the likes of Poleski (deleted) and Faley (who somehow managed to avoid deletion).

And no, deep down I couldn't even fathom who it could possibly be. Probably Capt. Trollypants.

Kings 5; Blues 2

Very important for the Kings to come out and take care of a struggling St. Louis team, especially after a lackluster homestand that has included two losses. Tonight's game was a little like a boxing match between two fighters, one a fair amount better than the other. For the first couple of rounds, the two exchanged some jabs, and the underdog landed a couple of punches, even outfought the favorite for stretches. But as the bout wore on, the favorite wore down the dog, andn landed a couple of knockout blows.

If the Kings are going to have a successful season, then the big guns are going to have to come through. And as much as people might want to believe that means Robitaille and Roenick, it doesn't. It means Demitra, and it mean Frolov. Tonight, the big guns fired, with each getting two goals. For the second straight night, the Kings have batted pucks into the net from mid-air, tonight's coming from Frolov who knocked home the rebound of a Dustin Brown deflection of a Mike Cammalleri shot from the blue line. The Kings are playing, to borrow a phrase from basketball, above the ice. Frolov's other goal came on a nifty bit of stick work as he pulled the puck from behind the goal line and banged it home in one motion.

The power play was fairly uninspiring for most of the night, but it did produce two goals in 8 opportunities, so I shouldn't complain. LaBarbera settled down after giving up a goal on the first shot he faced. Perhaps the best goal of the night came from one of the little guns. After Craig Conroy had come out of the penalty box in the second period, the Kings worked a 3 on 2 that ended with Conroy making a quick little move to get the puck to Eric Belanger camped out on the right post. Belanger very calmly lifted the puck over Reinhart Divos, who was sprawled at that post and couldn't cover the top corner. Although the Kings were forced to run a little ragged at time, they eventually got the game under control and made Belanger's goal stand up.

Through 12 games, the Kings are 8-4, and they're playing like a top team, if not an elite team. There are still a lot of new parts that they're working in, which is true across the league. I predict that there will be a few teams that will be a lot better when those parts gel than they are now. I think the Kings can be one of those team, especially back on the blue line. If the top guys on offense are going to bring it the way they did tonight, it's going to make it easier for those defensemen.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

UCLA 30; Stanford 27

Wow. What a comeback. I will never doubt this team again. Three touchdowns in the last eight minutes. Amazing.

New NCAA Hoops Poll

The first pre-season AP poll is out, and there really aren't too many surprises. UCLA comes in tied for 18th with Wake Forest, just edged out by Illinois. Honestly, I think I'd move UCLA up between 10 and 15, and Illinois down between 20 and 25. This is, of course, based on nothing but pre-season reports, and I really have no way to guage how much guys are improving.

I think the Bruins will be pretty good, and ready to challenge for a national title next year. I see them as a sweet sixteen, maybe even elite eight this year. Barring injury, they're going to have one of the top five backcourts in the country with Farmar and Afflalo. Ced Bozeman's return is going to be a big plus on the defensive end, and he'll get plenty of time to play until Josh Shipp returns. One thing you can do with a knee injury is shoot in bulk, so hopefully Bozeman took the last year to shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. It would be an incredible boost if he could make himself a threat on the perimeter. The real key will be the improvement of Hollins, Fey, and Mata, as well as the contributions of the freshmen, especially Ryan Wright. Losing Dijon hurts, but the imrovement of the guards, and hopefully better inside play should more than make up for that.

The Illini obviously lost a ton, with Deron, Luther, and Powell all graduating/leaving. The loss of Ingram will be felt more than most people think. Dee and Augie need to be healthy, and we'll see if Dee can really take over the point guard spot. There are so many question marks with this team that this ranking is based almost entirely on the two seniors and reputation. From what I've read, Pruitt and Randle have made huge strides, McBride has been playing with more authority, and the new guards have all been better than advertised in pre-season practices. If it's one thing Bruce Weber can do, it's make guards look better than people think they ought to look. That means Brock, Frazier, and Jamar Smith might just be more capable than a lot of outsiders think. If that's the case, then I'm not going to worry about recruiting. Bruce will make lemonade out of lemons, and if you do that consistently, you're going to start getting the pick of the crop before too long. They've got guys at ever position who have the potential to be very good, but they still have to prove themselves.

The Illini could play well above this ranking, or well below. The Bruins, on the other hand, I'm pretty confident about. I think they're guaranteed to be very good, but not great, at least this year. If Hollins and/or Fey break out, however, they could be top 8.

Sharks 5: Kings 4

Missed it. Friday night. Out drinking. And enjoying other grown up activities.

Just watched the recording, or at I watched the goals and the important plays at the end. The no-call on Roenick was questionable. It was similar to what was being called throughout season, although on replays it looked more like a shove than a hook. What was worse was the play about 30 seconds earlier when Roenick was checked from behind. Brown did hook the guy, but that's the kind of stuff they almost ALWAYS let go at that point of the game. New NHL, though, and you never know what you're going to get.

Anyway, they had about a million chances to stop that play at the end, and they failed on every one of them. They couldn't get the puck deep on that last kill, and that's what did them in.

Sweet goal by Conroy on that awesome spin and drive up the boards by Corvo.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Nation of Morons

This won't be up long, probably, but ESPN has a "Sports Nation" poll up on the front page asking the following question:

"Where is the baseball from the last our of this year's World Series?

a. Al Capone's Vault
b. Steve Bartman's House
c. The Weiner's House in Chicago
d. Doug Mientkiewicz has it"

Granted, this a really stupid poll, and I'm already giving it more attention than it deserves, but Weiner's House? WEINER'S FREAKING HOUSE?!?! Dumb motherfuckers. There is no Weiner's House. It's the Weiner's Circle, and it's the best goddamn hotdog stand in Chicago, and about a five minute walk from my apartment. Seriously, how hard is it to a do a quick Google search to make sure you aren't making an ass of yourself?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Flags fly forever

Congratulations, White Sox. And please don't set my car on fire.

Kings 3; Sucks 1

Any win over the Mighty Sucks is a satisfying victory. Honestly, maybe it's just becase the third period is fresh in my mind, but I really think 1-5 on the ice, the Kings were outplayed. Fortunately, they're allowed to play a sixth, because LaBarbera was fantastic. I'm on record as being a fan of the goalie rotation, a la Hrudey/Berthiaume back in 1990-1991. But it's becoming clear that LaBarbera is just flat outplaying Garon. Maybe it's because of the extra rest. Maybe it's because he's comfortable playing every other game. But it may be time to go to two for one split.

For the second straight time, the Kings had a goal disallowed, this time on a puck that Belanger knocked out of the air with a high stick. They rebounded to take the lead on the two man advantage with 10 seconds left in the period, Cammelleri banging home a rebound from the slot. They'd add another in the second, with Robitaille deflecting a shot from in front of the net over Bryzakjsahdfkov and into the net. The Ducks couldn't capitalize on a two man advantage in the third, but seemed to gain momentum, dominating much of the period, and eventually pulling within one as Andy McDonald went five hole on LaBarbera. The Kings were able to hold on, however, finally getting a power play near the end of the game . Conroy broke out of the zone, and a nifty move at center created some space and drew a hooking penalty on Sykora. The Kings went into puck possession mode, running down the clock until Conroy banged home the rebound of a Frolov shot to provide the winning margin.

Like a said, a win is a win, and when it's over the Ducks, it's even better. But outside of LaBarbera, I wasn't completely pleased with the way the Kings played tonight. I've harped on it before, but they need to be more effective on special teams if they're going to be successful. Despite the perfect PK tonight, I didn't think they were very good on the kill. LaBarbera was their best penalty killer all night, but they gave up way too many chances. Teams seem to be really playing a high pressure style of penalty kill against the Kings, and it seems to be working. On the flip side, the Kings have time and again gone into a passive box, almost daring their opponents to shoot. It's effective when your goaltender is on his game, but it's risky.

But we'll save those complaints for a night when it costs them. They're now 7-3 after their first ten games, which I think is better than most expected them to be, and it's certainly everything I could have hoped for at this point. Next up are the Sharks on Friday and the Blues on Saturday, then it's off to Dallas and Phoenix for back to back games next week. I'd settle for two wins in those three.

Monday, October 24, 2005

New Pornographers w/ Destroyer and Immaculate Machine @ the Metro; October 20, 2005

I've seen NP once before at the Metro, and I've seen AC Newman a couple of times, and I've never come away disappointed, so naturally I was looking forward to this show. But the real excitement came a couple of months ago when the show was anounced and I learned that they'd be playing with Dan Bejar's Destroyer, a great band in its own right. But more importantly, it meant that Bejar would actually be in tow to sing his NP tunes, a real rarity.

Immaculate Machine kicked the show off. This is Kathryn Calder's band, who is also known as AC Newman's long lost niece. She's also easy on the eyes. Anyway, it was Thursday night, a three act show, and I'm not getting any younger, so we hung out next door at the Ginger Man during most of their set before getting there for the last couple of songs. Good enough to make me want to listen to some more to form a better opinion. But man oh man, you could tell this was going to be a big crowd. I've been to sold out shows at the Metro before, but I don't think I've ever been to one that almost completely packed during the set of the first of two opening acts.

Destroyer was next and put on what I thought was an excellent and fan friendly set. There's plenty of fan unfriendly stuff that Bejar could have selected, but he kept it pretty upbeat, playing most of the songs I wanted to hear, which come almost exclusively from "Streethawk: A Seduction". They played Streethawk, Beggars Might Ride, The Sublimation Hour, and The Very Modern Dance. The only thing I really wanted to hear that they skipped was Hey Snow White. Can't complain.

About 15 minutes after their set ended, the headliners took the stage, and they didn't disappoint. What follows in an Incomplete and Out of Order Setlist®
  • Electric Version
  • From Blown Speakers
  • The Laws Have Changed
  • All For Swinging You Around
  • Testament to Youth in Verse
  • End of Medicine*
  • Chump Change*
  • Twin Cinema
  • Use It
  • Bleeding Heart Show
  • Jackie, Dressed in Cobras
  • These are the Fables
  • Sing Me Spanish Techno
  • Falling Through Your Clothes
  • Streets of Fire
  • Mass Romantic
  • The Fake Headlines
  • Slow Decent into Alcoholism*
  • Jackie
  • Letter From an Occupant
  • Body Says No
  • Graceland (from the Matador at 15 CD)
*Actually, I'm can't remember if they played these, or if I've just listened to them so many times that I can't tell the difference. I figure they played at least two of the three. I'm almost positive they played Chump Change, though.

As was typical of an AC Newman performance, there was a fairly regular banter with the crowd, dominated mostly by Newman and Neko Case, who looked good as ever. Bejar sauntered out, beer in hand each time, to sing his tunes sans guitar. It was definitely a hilight. Let's face it, I have a feeling that we'll be lucky to see Neko still playing live with these guys in a few years, so the chance to see the full band with Bejar was a definite plus. The set was nice and long, although on the clock, they really didn't play that long. Blown Speakers was probably the only real "request" that they played, and for all I know, that was up next on the setlist anyway. Newman had a chuckle with a fan whom I can only assume requested "Letter From an Occupant". He pointed out that "there are some songs that are just givens". I remember seeing a brief interview on MTV with Mary's Danish once where the guitar player sort of joked about how boring it gets to play "Don't Crash the Car Tonight" every single night, but hey, a band's gotta pay the bills.

So anyway, great show, can't wait to see them again, but I'm a little pissed off to hear that they'll be playing the Metro again on New Year's eve. Don't they know that some of go home over the holidays to spend some time in the warm sunshine? One of these years I'll actually have to stick around Chicago for New Year's.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Predictable: Flames 3: Kings 2

This is why people stop watching hockey. This was probably the ugliest game I've seen all season, and I lay the blame for that at the skates of Mick "Mr." McGeough and Brad Meier. This game featured 20 power plays, 10 per team, and many not of the obstruction variety. The Coup de Gras was the penalty on Tom Kostopolous with a minute and a half to go. He essentially was penalized for checking. That was called maybe half the time when I used to play in the CSHA, and it was legitimately a penalty in that league. But this is the NHL, and apparently as far as McGeough and Meier are concerned, physical contact is a no-no. And as the title says, the outcome was completely predictable. I doubt I'm the only Kings fan that felt like the game was over right there. I just knew the Flames were going to score.

The Kings, for the second time in their three losses, blew a lead which should have been enough, this time surrendering a 2-0 lead after the first period. Then the game slowed down under constant whistles. The Kings did absolutely nothing in the second period, not registering their first shot until three quarters of the way through. Calgary fought back and tied the games on goals by Chris Simon, left wide open in the slot, and Dion Phaneuf, whose centering pass went off the skate of Tim Gleason. The Kings appeared to take the lead in the third on a power play goal by Demitra, but it was disallowed when McGeough noticed Derek Armstrong in the crease. Apparently, he hadn't noticed that he had been checked into the crease.

As ugly as this game was, and as poor as the officiating was, the Kings have no excuse for losing this game. They were playing at home against one of the worst power play and penalty killing teams in the league, if not the worst combined, and they gave up 2 power play goals, while only scoring one in ten opportunities. If you're going to be successful in the "new" NHL, you have to be good on the special teams. So far the Kings have won despite average special teams play, but that won't continue. They need to get their act together in those situations, or this good start will have faded by into mediocrity before Thanksgiving.

Two big points up for grabs on Tuesday night against the sucks. Let's hope they can put this one behind them and come out a littler sharper. Let's hope LaBarbera can stay perfect.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Kings 7: Stars 2

Wow. That's a major league ass-kicking. I can't really write a recap, because I only saw the first period, then I left to see the Destroyer/New Pornographers show, for which I hope to have a review shortly.

But hey, 7-2. Woo!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Kings 5: Avalanche 4

This team still has something to prove in the young season. Despite four wins in their last five, the Kings had yet to respond to a test on the road. On opening night, the Kings blew a 4-0 lead to the Dallas Stars, losing 5-4. Tonight was their first road game since that night, and the Kings stepped it up, turning a three goal deficit into a one goal victory.

The Avs got the scoring going in the first, with Ian Laperriere firing home a writster from between the circles. The Kings fought back, with Pavol Demitra getting the team's first short-hander of the season on great pass from Craig Conroy as the Kings took advantage of a bad change. The Avs got it back quickly, with Andrew Brunnette tipping home a Rob Blake slapshot on the same power play. Lappy would push the advantage to two goals just before the end of the period.

Joe Sakic gave the Avs their biggest lead six and a half minutes into the second, getting a power play goal, and that seemed to wake up the Kings. Demitra got his second of the night, this time finishing off a nice cross ice pass from Dustin Brown. Lubo ripped home a shot right off the face off to Aebischer's right, bringing the Kings within one. With less than a minute to go in the period, Sean Avery, who was all over the ice again tonight, tied the game. The Kings had the better of play in the third period, but it looked as if the game would go into overtime. Credit the new rules, however, as the Craig Conroy tallied the game winner with about a minute to play. Aebischer went out to play the puck behind the net, but it rolled away from him and outside of the playable zone. Caught in no-man's land, Aebischer tried to scramble back to the net, but couldn't do so before Conroy buried a pass from Alexander Frolov.

The Kings have now won five of their last six, and meet up with the same Stars team that stunned them on opening night. It's the second time the Kings have had back to back games. They're one for one in that situation, but that was at home against an opponent who had also played the night before. A win tomorrow night would be a signal that the Kings just might be for real. LaBarbera figures to get the start in Andy Murray's goalie rotation. He's been excellent, although he hasn't faced the same level of opponent that Garon has. Whatever. He's getting the job done, and so far, I like the rotation. It will be mentioned a lot, but it's not unlike the Hrudey/Berthiaume rotation that the Kings used under Tom Webster in the 1990-1991 season when the Kings won the Smythe Division.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


I could use this space to do a season review, but the Chronicler already covered that, and frankly, if I want to relive the season, I can just go back and re-read the things I wrote over the last five months. So I'd rather use this space to look ahead. In some sense, these season previews are extremely premature, but that doesn't make them any less fun. So keeping in mind that I haven't really worked out a format, and that it could change throughout the course of this post, I'll do a position by position analysis of what what I suspect we'll see, and what I'd like to see next season. So let's get started


What I suspect we'll see: I think there's a 50/50 chance that Bengie will be back next season, if not better. I think teams are smart enough to realize that this season was an abberation offensively, and while he had an excellent ALDS, I'm guessing that will be balanced out by his unimpressive ALCS. Teams that do their homework will realize that his defense has suffered, although he does deserve some credit for the success of the pitching staff. He'll get some action on the market, but as the dollars go up, teams will realize that he really isn't that much of an upgrade, regardless of what they currently have behind the plate, and though they may overpay, the Angels will pony up the extra half million it will probably take to sign him. Failing that, I think Jose will get 65-70% of the starts, with Mathis backing him up.

What I'd like to see: Bengie in another uniform, Mathis the majority starter, with Jose backing him up and getting the starts against the toughest right handers. I'd like to see about 70% Jose in April, with that trending downward by about 7-10% each month, to the point where Mathis is getting most of the starts by July, with the idea of Mathis being the number 1 guy in 2007.


What I suspect we'll see: Erstad. He'll be here one more year, and I really don't think they're going to move him back to the outfield. In the team's opinion, the risk of injury is too great. As I mentioned in a comment at the Chronicler's site, I say big deal. What's the downside of an Erstad injury to anyone not named Darin Erstad? Are they really that much worse off without him in the lineup? Kotchman will factor in as well. Between days off for Erstad and the DH position, I think he'll play in roughly 120 games

What I'd like to see: Kotchman, Kotchman, and more Kotchman, with Erstad either in center field or left out. kotch needs to play every day. The Angels need his bat in the lineup, and the drop-off defensively, if the scouts are right, will be negligible. It certainly won't be enough to make up the gap in the extra offense that Kotchman will provide.


What I suspect we'll see: Kennedy. Another year on the contract, and what could be a big year. He's another year removed from his 2004 injury, and he's in a contract year, which should add some incentive. I see no downside, really. The only alternatives are to make Figgins the every day second baseman, or to use Izturis, and neither of those are realistic or necessary. And if he does break out, he'll either be a key piece in a third straight trip to the post-season, or he'll be dealt in late July for a mid-level prospect or better.

What I'd like to see: See above. I think that pretty much covers it. Looking ahead, I'd expect that he will not be re-signed as the team prepares to turn the position over to Howie Kendrick in 2007.


What I suspect we'll see: McPherson, occasionally spelled by Figgins and, on rare occasions, Izturis, with some time at DH. D-Mac missed much of spring training last season, and the first few weeks of the season. Despite a power surge in late May/early June, he never really got going, and injuries were probably the main culprit. His defense, in my opinion, was adequate to good, and a pleasant surprise given the scouting reports coming in. Although he lacks the range of Glaus, I found his arm to be much more consistent.

What I'd like to see: Lots and lots of D-Mac. I really do think that with a full spring, and if his injuries are behind him, he could hit 30+ homers next year.


What I suspect we'll see: Orlando Cabrera proved himself to be an outstanding defensive shortstop, and deserves some credit for the improvement of the pitching staff. The Angels could use some more offense out of him, and although reports are that he felt more comfortable in the 2 hole, his numbers didn't improve appreciably when in that spot. Still, he doesn't strike out a great deal, and he's not an awful hitter as a number 2. But I wouldn't expect great things from him offensively over the last three seasons of his contract. If he's average in two of those and above average in the other, I think that's all the Angels can reasonably hope for.

What I'd like to see: I have no problem with OC staying in OC for two more years, but I'd like to think the Angels will be smart enough to move him out if and when Brandon is ready.


What I suspect we'll see: Garret Anderson will spend the majority of time here should he stay healthy. The rest of the time he'll DH, and this spot will be covered by some combination of Juan Rivera and Chone Figgins. GA has three years left, kids. He's not going anywhere.

What I'd like to see: Rivera and Figgins almost exclusively with the occasional start by Anderson, unless the winter rest relieves Anderson of some of his many ailments. When healthy, he's an excellent fielder, but he was clearly affected by some combination of age and injury this season.


What I suspect we'll see: Unfortunately, I think management will commit to Finley here until mid-May or so, by which time he'll either have experienced a rebirth, or he will have made clear to everyone that he's done. There was optimism late in the season when he was benched for long stretches. And he did provide some very big hits down the stretch in the race for the division championship, but after Scioscia took the bait, Finley pulled the switch, disappearing in the playoffs until Scioscia, in a desperate move, benched him in favor of the aging Anderson in center in game five of the ALCS.

What I'd like to see: Erstad for the majority of the season, spelled by Figgins when he isn't giving someone else a day off. Like I said earlier, it's possible that his body can't handle a full season of center field. Well, for starters, that's what Figgins is for. And second, so what? If he gets hurt, the result is that his bat comes out of the lineup in exchange for maybe a small drop-off on defense (but not assuredly), and a loss of some versatility as Figgins would become the every day center fielder. That's a chance I'm willing to take.


What I suspect we'll see: Vlad.

What I'd like to see: A rotation of Izturis and Quinlan. Just kidding of course. Despite missing a month of the season after Ron Roenicke inexplicably sent him from first on a double, leading to an awkward slide and a shoulder injury, Vlad still hit 30 homers (leading the team by a ton), and drove in over a hundred runs. He suffered through a stretch where he wasn't getting anything to hit, a frequent target of intentional walks. When he did get something to hit, he obviously tried to do too much and went into a prolonged slump. He escaped in time to lead the team to another division title. He'll be a fixture here at least through 2007, at which point he might move to DH for the final year of his current contract.


What I suspect we'll see: Some sort of platoon by Kotchman and Rivera, both of whom should be in the field more often than not. They'll be splitting at bats when they should both be in the lineup.

What I'd like to see: Mostly Anderson. Play him in left about 25-30% of the time, on which days Figgins can give McPherson or Vlad a day off their feet at DH.


What I suspect we'll see: Ztu, Quinlan, Davanon, whomever is sitting in favor of Figgins, that day's loser in the Kotchman/Rivera battle, and the backup catcher of the day.

What I'd like to see: Ztu, Quinlan, Davanon, whomever is sitting in favor of Figgins, and maybe Brian Specht or Zach Sorensen, either of whom if taught to play outfield, could be a very versatile utility guy, and could at least be as valuable as Finley, who should be cut barring a terrific spring. Granted, I know virtually nothing about Specht other than he's a middle infielder who had a very solid season as the bat coming back from injury. Someone who knows more can tell me I'm full of crap. But if the first four are set, you really need another outfielder (although Quinlan can play left). I'd rather one of those guys learn than surrender more at bats to Finley. Also, backup catcher of the day.


What I suspect we'll see: Colon, Escobar, Lackey, Santana, and Byrd, or another free agent. Washburn leaving appears to be a done deal at this point, which leaves Byrd as the likely candidate to return, preferably with a one year deal. If he commands too much on the free agent market, then I wouldn't mind seeing Arte either go for broke with a guy like A.J. Burnett (hey, fight fire with fire, our AJ against yours). The alternative would be to see who steps up among Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver, and Chris Bootcheck, with the option of a late spring trade if none of those guys are capable of winning the job.

What I'd like to see: Pretty much what you see above. I say let Washburn go, unless something breaks and he's not as valuable as we suspect. Bring Byrd back, but only on a year deal, or maybe a one year deal with an option/buyout for the second year. Give Saunders a chance to grow another year, or even make him the lefty and long option out of the pen, with an eye on moving him into the rotation in 2007, alongside Weaver who would replace Escobar as his contract expires.


What I suspect we'll see: Frankie and Shields are no-brainers, as it probably another year of Donnelly and Yan. I expect final two spots to be used on Bootcheck and whatever lefty they sign in the coming months, if not Saunders. I'd have no problem with Saunders in this position, but I'd like to see him as more than a LOOGY if he's going to start in 2007. He could be a good in that role, however, if they also give him longer outings in mop-up.

What I'd like to see: Pretty much what you see above. What I don't want to see is big money being thrown at a LOOGY or seventh inning guy. First, I think this coaching staff has shown an excellent ability to identify middle to late relief talent, Turnbow, Wise, and Jenks notwithstanding. I don't know, maybe the magic is gone, but I think those guys validate this skill more than anything. The talent is there, they just need to utilize it a little better than they did this season. I'd rather not see them throw money at this spot. Lord knows too many bad contracts have been given to the Mark Petkovseks and Mike Remlingers of the world. Relief talent at the back of the rotation is often a crapshoot. I'll take my chances with the coaching staff and use that money elsewhere.

To shorthand it, here's what I suspect to see on opening day next season:
Pos  Player
DH Figgins
SS Cabrera
RF Guerrero
LF Anderson
3B McPherson
C Bengie/Jose Molina
1B Erstad
CF Finley
2B Kennedy

SP Colon
SP Escobar
SP Lackey
SP Santana
SP Byrd

Bench Quinlan, Izturis, Davanon, Backup catcher,
Rivera, Kotchman

Pen Frankie, Shields, Donnelly, Yan, Bootcheck,
Saunders, or free agent
I think that's 26 players, actually, so something's gotta give. Someone will probably get hurt in the spring.

Here's what I'd like to see, with what I see as the difference (positive/negative):
Pos  Player     gain/loss
CF Figgins =
SS Cabrera =
RF Guerrero =
DH Anderson + over 2005 DH spot
LF Rivera + def and probably off over GA
3B McPherson + power makes up for def lost (Fig)
1B Kotchman + Offense makes up for slight def loss
C Mathis - growing pains, but a long term move
2B Kennedy + one year removed from injury

SP Colon - slight regression
SP Escobar + hopefully healthy
SP Lackey + continued improvement
SP Santana + year of experience
SP Byrd/FA + over last year's #5 depending

Bench Quinlan, Izturis, Davanon, Backup catcher,

Pen Frankie, Shields, Donnelly, Yan, Bootcheck,
Saunders, or free agent
I see the bench and pen being about the same. Not appreciably better, not significantly worse.

Clearly, there's a lot that can and will happen between now and when pitchers and catchers report, and probably some more movement between that time and opening day. This is essentially an exercise in futility before we know what might happen. According to the Times, they could anyone from Konerko to ManRam to Carlos Delgado. Really, I hope they don't. If I'd wanted them to do something like that, I would have put it up there. This Angels team has the minor league talent and the budget to be the spend the next decade as the Yankees of the last decade. I'd rather not see them blow that by becoming the Mets of the last decade, throwing good money after bad. This is the strongest the farm has even been in my lifetime, and it's happening at a time where we all have the tools to follow the progress of the prospects like never before. Winning is fun, but one of the things that made 2002 great was the personnel that the Angels took to the Championship. I think it will be more fun to watch a victory lap by the guys that we followed as they climbed the ladder. As such, my general philosophy is when in doubt, go with the kids.

Time to relax and watch the lucky ones battle it out. I've got a hockey season, college football season, and college basketball season to keep me busy until March, but I'll always have one eye trained on the Angels. Fire up the hot stove. It's gonna be an interesting winter.