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.