Staples Center–First, let’s get the obits out of the way. Sam the Butcher is bringing Alice the meat in Heaven now, the center square gets an X, Ann B. Davis has passed. I’m not sure, but I believe she was the last white housekeeper depicted on television. Either way, my house is a constant pigssty, and that’s just with two kids, yet the Brady’s modern ranch style Encino home was always sparkling clean with six of those groovy brats, so Alice had to have been pretty good at her job. Rest in Peace, Ann, there are no dunk tanks in the afterlife.
Now on to the more pertinent stuff: There was a small earthquake in Westwood last night, but nobody noticed because it was right around the time the Kings scored with five minutes left in the third period to tie their game seven with the Chicago Blackhawks. Personally, as much as I’d like to say I’ve been following, I hadn’t been to a Kings game out here since Short Matt’s last visit to LA, when Anze Kopitar was but a promising rookie. That changed Friday night when I went to Game 6 of the Conference Finals, courtesy of my pal Steve (who has no kids, a lucrative job, and enough disposable income to have a pair of season seats for just about every team here…we should all be so lucky to have a friend like that).
The obvious: Hockey is about a thousand times better live than on television. I’ve been to playoff games in all the major sports and live playoff hockey could be a thousand times better than them all. First of all, it’s loud. The giant hi-def monitors showed Chris Paul there with his kid, proving his dad skills by putting plugs in the boy’s ears. Even the organ feels like it’s cranked to eleven. I love a good pipe organ at a sporting event, it adds a sense of carny-class, and no matter what the song, from Lady of Spain to the theme from Game of Thrones, the organist always finds a way to segue it, at any point, into the da-da-da, Let’s Go Kings chant. The booth upstairs also liked to play a clip of Cartman from South Park stirring the crowd with that same chant, though I don’t know why he wouldn’t be an Avalanche fan (and shouldn’t you feel strange cheering with a guy who fed his nemesis’ own parents to him in a bowl of chili?). You hockey fans out there, did Trey Parker get Kings’ season seats out of this or does Cartman appear in all the venues cheering the home team? Also, how long have there been “Ice Girls?”
Then there’s the game itself. The players fly around that ice like a starling murmuration, as though they’re linked by a hive mind. I don’t know how they know when to change lines, and don’t bother telling me, I like the mystery of it. Unlike basketball you can’t leave your seat to get a jump on the bathroom lines a minute before the period end, because that’s when you’re sure to miss something. Half the time I can’t believe the puck ever goes in the net. The other half I can’t believe it doesn’t. When you’re watching live, the ice is just the right size for your field of vision and you can see the plays suddenly unfold and come together. On tv, even high-def, it’s nearly impossible to appreciate what’s going on, they might as well be playing shadowball out there (or shadow puck). It’s been how many years since the dismal failure of that stupid Fox “glow puck?” Hasn’t technology caught up?
Do the Rangers have the team-of-destiny thing going for them? Can’t any team that makes it this far lay claim to that? At least the Rangers will come here semi-fresh tomorrow night for game one, if a tad jet-lagged. Unlike the Kings’ surprisingly dominant romp through the playoffs two years ago en route to their first Cup, they’re paying for it this time by playing all possible 21 games through the first three rounds, with overtime to boot last night, because of course it went to overtime between the winners of the last two Cups who played like they were clones of each other, over what, eight lead changes just in these last two games? New York versus L.A., sounds a lot cooler than Miami and San Antonio doesn’t it?