Kings Run Not a Cinderella

When the 8th seed upsets the 1 and 2 seed, the general consensus is to check if that glass slipper is going to fit. Usually, it will.

However, for the Los Angeles Kings, the glass slipper is way too small and delicate.

The Kings are much different than your average, everyday, run of the mill Cinderella story. Sure, the Los Angeles Kings barely squeezed into the playoffs. Sure, they knocked off the back-to-back Presidents Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks in 5 games. Sure, the 2nd seeded St. Louis Blues fell to the Kings without taking a single game from them. That doesn’t make a Cinderella though.

The Kings deserve better than to be cast as Cinderella’s.

Los Angeles underachieved during the year and it didn’t appear likely that they would be able to reach their potential. If things started to click, it would be too little, too late. That notion, obviously, was dead wrong.

The Kings do not qualify to be true Cinderella’s because they are a team overflowing with talent. They were the Stanley Cup choices of more than a few people in the pre-season but ended up disappointing greatly with their regular season performance. The only big change made to their roster actually improved their product on paper as they swapped underperforming players with the Columbus Blue Jackets, receiving Jeff Carter for Jack Johnson.

Their roster, on paper, is one to be feared. Captain Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Drew Doughty and shut down defenseman Willie Mitchell, along with the aforementioned Jeff Carter are as strong a core roster as any team in the NHL. For some reason though, their season was executed similarly to a Heath Bell 9th inning with the Miami Marlins. Considering their roster, the LA Kings should never have been a number 8 seed.

The coaching change closer to the end of the season seemed to be the turning point. Although the results didn’t show in the regular season, the hard-nosed style of a Daryl Sutter coached team showed up against the Vancouver Canucks as the energy and aggressiveness of the Kings combined with their skill made for a very difficult matchup.

Darryl Sutter has been able to take his Kings to the Western Conference Final and he hasn’t even had to rely solely on Vezina nominated goaltender Jonathan Quick to do so. Don’t get me wrong, Quick has been outstanding, but he is not the sole reason for the success of the Kings.

The Kings are not a reincarnation of the 2010 Montreal Canadians, who, despite a severe lack of talent, were able to ride goalie Jaroslav Halak to game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final where they were eventually defeated. They are not a roster absent of depth parallel to the 2006 Edmonton Oiler team that made the Stanley Cup Finals on the backs of Dwayne Roloson who was able to transform from solid to other worldly in the playoffs.

To qualify as a Cinderella story in sports, teams generally have unexpected heroes emerging to immortalize themselves in playoff history. In the NHL, that role is predominantly reserved for the goaltender. After playing a mere 6 regular season games following a late season call-up, virtual unknown rookie Ken Dryden earned the starting job in 1971 for the Montreal Canadians before the start of the playoffs. The Canadians ended up winning the Stanley Cup.

For the Kings these series of events are just the result of an underachieving team putting things together at the right time. The Kings are not a one-hit wonder. This is not simply a matter of getting hot like Steve Blake in the 4th quarter kind of deal. They are built to succeed for a number of years to come. The 2010 Canadians, 2006 Oilers and 2003 Mighty Ducks, predictably, were unable to repeat the success of their fluky runs. Los Angeles does not fall into that category.

The Kings have won largely due to the fact that they are the better team. The 8th spot was a scary position for them to be for higher seeds because it was very possible that they could put it together at any time. The scattered puzzle pieces finally began to make some sense in LA and it was the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues who got stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The slipper won’t be fitting for the Los Angeles Kings in the 2012 playoffs but that is by no means an omen for their imminent exit.

The slipper won’t fit because the Kings are too good to be a glass shoe type of team.

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Luongo’s Struggles are Incomprehensible for World

No one gets it.

Sportsnet columnist Mark Spector recently wrote his open letter to the Canuck fans. Berating them for jeering Luongo after his latest struggles.

He thinks he knows Luongo. He thinks he understands why Canuck fans are angry. He thinks he gets it.

Boy, is he off.

Let’s get this straight. What the fans have done at Canuck games to Luongo isn’t fair. The sarcastic cheering and outright booing is pathetic. It may be a fans right to boo these multi-million dollar athletes but you would think as a fan you would understand that players are humans as well and that they could use your support. But it isn’t everyone. The boos and sarcastic cheers didn’t come from 18,000 strong.

Anyways, Mark Spector presents an issue that many NHL fans seem to be on board with. A hate for Canuck fans. Apparently, we look like cry babies for constantly complaining about Luongo’s fluctuating play. Spector asks does “the baby need a new goaltender?”

Yeah, in fact we do.

He points out irrelevant evidence that a high school law student would be embarrassed to see. Following his question to the Vancouver babies he writes “we thought you already had a Canadian Olympic team starter, complete with the Vezina and Jennings dress-up bundle. Can’t we just send along the camper? Or the puppy waterpark set? Oh, that’s not good enough for the Vancouver baby? They want more than that? We see.”

The worst evidence he gives has to be his mention of Luongo’s Olympic appearance. Luongo was mediocre at best during the 2010 tournament and was the beneficiary of a stacked Canadian team featuring a fourth line almost any other country would have been happy having as their first.

Besides, Luongo’s past is completely unrelated to what he is doing now. He played unbelievably in his first two seasons as a Canuck but since then he has regressed. He had a good stretch last year but came up short when the Canucks needed him most.

Related: Roberto Luongo the Ex-Factor

What’s worse though is that Spector’s narrow-minded approach ignores so many other important factors that make Vancouver fans irate towards Luongo’s play.

He fails to bring up Luongo’s utter failure as a leader and a captain. Luongo hasn’t been shy in the past to throw his own teammates under the bus in public. He comes across as a baby. Jealous of the praise Tim Thomas was receiving, Luongo decided to speak up and disrespect him. He followed his trash talk up by letting in 6 goals.

Luongo is a jerk. He isn’t endearing to most fans anymore. Canuck fans used to love him before they started to truly understand the man behind the mask. He has lost their respect.

People adore Kesler because he is a warrior. Luongo is the opposite. No one wants to go to battle for or with him.

You obviously can’t blame Luongo for assuring financial security to his great-grandchildren but it is frustrating for a fan base to see their highest paid player struggle so mightily.

Contrary to what Spector implies, Luongo is not one of the best goalies in the NHL. His Lebron-esque choking, general lack of ability to come up with a big save and uncanny aptitude at giving out freebies at the worst time don’t show up on the stat sheet.

It wasn’t Luongo’s fault against the Blackhawks or the Bruins last year. However, he didn’t steal anything. He is paid to steal games. The failure of the Canuck squad to come up with goals while dominating doesn’t excuse Luongo’s personal failure to dominate on a consistent basis.

You would hope that your franchise goaltender can be the best goalie out there on a regular basis. The goal is to expect reliability out of someone who is paid to be a difference maker. Too often he is the difference maker in the wrong way.

The Luongo apologists are everywhere north of the border. Virtually every commentator you see feels the need to defend the man. I don’t get it.

Mike Gillis came on the Team 1040, a local Vancouver radio station, to defend his goaltender. Well, of course he did. What else is he going to do for the person who he so foolishly signed to that ridiculous 12 year contract?

Gillis says that the fan reaction is a hangover from last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs. No, the Stanley Cup was just a few more bullet points on a list stretches as long as the Amazon River.

Mark Spector tries to separate Vancouver from other “normal, everyday” Canadian hockey towns. Apparently, the fans in Vancouver are worse than the same Montreal fans who booed Carey Price in the first preseason game last year following the departure of temporary folk hero Jaroslav Halak.

Preseason? Come on man!

Maybe Mark Spector should imagine if those Montreal fans were stuck with Luongo for the past few years.

There is a cultural divide between the world of hockey fans and the Vancouverites. It’s like we are from different worlds and unless you are from that world you can never fully understand the reasoning behind some things. It’s why I’ll never fully understand the why Philadelphia Eagle fans were so hard on Donovan Mcnabb.

It’s the same with Luongo. The rest of the world knows why Vancouver fans are angry with Luongo but they will never actually understand it.

Vancouver fans are no different from the rest. Despite Donovan Mcnabb’s success, his relationship with Eagle fans was very hot and cold. The Canuck faithful would kill to have Luongo playing up to a young Mcnabb’s level.

It has been 40 long years without a championship in Vancouver and Mark Spector finishes by saying “[We] want it all, and [we] want it now.”

Yeah, how impatient are we?

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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