Friday, December 15, 2006

Slow week, but the Kings won

There has been very little news this week that I care about. Both UCLA and Illinois have taken the week off for finals, the Angels signed Darren Oliver, and that's about it. We're even in the slow period for college football. When that happens, you get a bunch of Super Furry Animals videos (and really, you're better off because of it).

But on the plus side, the Kings played one of their best games of the season last night at the worst arena in the NHL (more on that later). Anze motherfucking Kopitar had two fantastic goals, including the first short hander allowed by San Jose this season. Michael Cammalleri and Derek Armstrong added a couple of their own, and emergency starter Barry Brust played brilliantly in net to earn his first NHL win.

In a couple of weeks I'll revisit the good and bad from my season preview and player predictions for the Kings. Mostly bad, I'm guessing, which pretty much matches the Kings so far. But there have been positives, not the least of which is the revelation that has been Anze Kopitar. I've been watching the Kings for probably 25 years, and he's the most physically gifted player at his age I've seen come out of their system in that time. After a slow start, Alexander Frolov has really picked up his game in the last couple months, and if he can sustain it through the rest of the season, it could represent a step forward. The talent has always been there. The consistency hasn't. Dustin Brown has shown offensive flashes, and continues to fearlessly go after the largest trees in the forest. Cammalleri hasn't put up huge numbers, but he's been a solid offensive contributor, and he's just looked better to me this season than last, though the numbers may not bear that out. Let's face it, the Kings aren't very good, but the foundation is there, and so far I have no complaints about Dean Lombardi's rebuilding.

And finally, a couple of words about the shittiest arena I've ever been to, HP Pavilion in San Jose. I've attended hockey games at the Forum, Staples Center, whatever the hell they're calling the arena in Anaheim, the United Center, Joe Louis Arena, some minor league stadium in Toledo, and the arena in San Jose flat out sucks. I went to a game in 1996 or 1997 when the Kings were playing the Sharks. One of my college roommates lived up there, so I flew in and we hung around San Jose before heading to the arena when the doors opened about an hour and a half before the game. We had seats in the first available row of the second deck in the center ice section (which is actually the second row, as it sits right behind the broadcasters). The cool thing was that we got to chat with Mike Allison and Bob Miller before the game. However, at this arena, there is a railing which is in place around the landing at the top of the stairs to keep people from falling into the lower deck. Note the term "railing", as opposed to, say, plexi-glass or something else that you can actually see through. Anyway, despite the modern design tools in the hands of the architects, and despite the primo nature of our seats, we were completely blocked from seeing one entire section of the ice. This is an unacceptable design flaw. There should be no such thing as an obstructed view seat in a modern arena. I'm still bitter about that experience, and it has nothing to do with the fact that Kings got the crap beat out of them that night. So yeah, that place is a piece of crap.

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