Woah, the Kings home opener on Saturday Oct 3rd against the Phoenix Coyotes was one huge disappointment. Kings fans were anxiously waiting for this night because the Coyotes seemed like such easy prey to start off the '09-'10 season with a much wanted win.
Everything before the national anthem set up what was thought to be a great game. LA Live was abuzz with a they're-so-awesome-'cause-it's-so-ridiculous rock cover band and drink and food specials at the numerous restaurants. The Husband and I were tempted to eat at the ESPN Zone but we decided to feast on comfort food at Lawry's because of the smaller crowd and I took advantage of the $3 beer special for fans in a Kings jersey.
LA Live...not too shabby
The server in the Premier section was incredibly attentive, which made ordering through him worth every penny of the half-off retail price I paid for my ticket through StubHub. The pre-game jumbotron celebration of great moments in Kings history set up the moment for the start of the season, the 10th one at Staples Center. But all the momentum kinda came to a screeching halt when national anthem singer Lisa Loeb sang "God Bless America"...woah...what?? Lisa Loeb chose to sing "God Bless America? I know singers have a choice as to which song to sing and I know "The Star-Spangled Banner" is a difficult vocal number with myriad opportunities for failure, but "The Star-Spangled Banner" gives the arena an energy and rush that "God Bless America" does not deliver. Lisa Loeb was fine, nothing extraordinary, nothing horrible, but she did Staples Center, the Kings, and Kings fans no favor by passing over "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the home opener. Of course she is not to blame for the Kings' pitiful outing, but she was the start of many failures over the course of the evening.
The Kings turned over the puck way too many times during the game. Phoenix had a lot of odd-man rushes and easy break outs. The defensemen were much more active on offense than in the past, but it hurt the team when the Kings turned over the puck and there was only one defenseman left to fend off the opposition. Drew Doughty was surprisingly shaky in the game; he was called for two penalties and had several turnovers that left him out of position and scrambling to recover.
Jonathan Quick had two key saves in the game, but other than that looked average. However, it's difficult to gauge his performance given how poorly the Kings played in front of him.
The one highlight of the game was the Kings power play. The Kings scored all three of their goals on the power play and had what seemed like well over half of their scoring chances come while on the man advantage.
It was frustrating to see the Kings try to close the gap on the scoreboard only to have Phoenix immediately regain their multi-goal lead. Watching the Kings lose so decisively sort of felt like the off-season never happened. But I have to believe that the Kings are better than last year. This year the Kings don't have the dead weight of Kyle Calder, Denis Gauthier, and (it pains me to write it) Derek Armstrong. The Kings have 3 very strong lines, and a 4th line that could be beneficial with a promising Trevor Lewis at center. The Kings need to be disciplined and smart, knowing when to take chances and when to stay home and play with more intensity and be more physical. This Kings team is better than what they showed last night and will do better in the future. It's just one game, 81 more to go.