When is a hockey game not just another hockey game?

When that game sees the Kings kick a curse in the nuts, break a franchise record, and make Staples center as loud as I’ve heard it in far too long a time.

When Los Angeles outsystems Detroit.

Cautious optimism can suck it.

This team scratched and clawed their way to their FRANCHISE RECORD 9th consecutive win. Good for 36 on the year, their 74th and 75th point (4 away from last season’s total of 79) in just their 58th game.

This is not a perfect team, far from it. But their skin is thick, and their conviction is zealous.

Nothing I can say here can match what I just witnessed along with my fellow Kings’ nation, that was not tarnished, but rather enhanced, by the presence of the large contingent of ogres in red apparel. I will give you but the quickest of recaps, because you should, no you need to watch this game. See that you do.

The game began with much the same air as the prior contest against the pond scum, though the Kings were matching Detroit for most steps. Then almost halfway through the period, the feathered tires caught their first break when Pavel Datsyuk’s initial pass from the low right wing boards deflected back to his stick off of Rob Scuderi’s skate. The momentary confusion allowed Zetterberg to find himself alone to Quick’s right where he received a patently gorgeous pass from his Russian counterpart. 1-0.

16 seconds later. A broken play, a miscue, a blind backhand from Filpulla on its way wide finds Sean O’Donnell’s skate and beats Quick’s left pad. 2-0.

Then the Kings’ played some respectable hockey, until Drew Doughty, whose 1st period was one of the worst of his young career, took his second penalty with under 2 minutes to play. Jason Williams’ hooking call did little to alleviate the disaster of a period as Zetterberg just barely beat Quick off yet another lucky bounce. 3-0.

The Kings’ defense was horrible. No bones about that. I would have thought the subtraction of Randy Jones from the lineup would eliminate the chances through the crease. It didn’t. Every Detroit goal mirrored the 4 goals Anaheim scored in that the blue paint was unchecked by a Kings’ defender.

Like I said, they are far from perfect.

But screw perfect. And screw the Red Wings. Screw their fans and yes, screw the 3 adorable little children in red sitting in front of me, chanting soft but persistent refrains of “Let’s Go Red Wings.”

Sorry kids. You don’t know any better yet. I forgive them, for they know not what they do. Bad time to become a Wings’ fan.

Screw the Red Wing’s snapping our 8 game winning streak and depriving this team of making Kings’ history.

No one doubted it. I heard none of the typical whimpering among the crowd during the 1st intermission. “Aw we suck.” “Detroit has our number.” “So much for the winning streak.”

Not a peep.

Just another beer.

Tastes like confidence.

What does a 3-0 goal deficit with 40 minutes of hockey left to play mean?

Nothing.

9 minutes, 21 seconds after Zetterberg’s last goal.

Handzus turns on the god factor. Parse hustles his ass off. Frolov feels the excitement and the fervor and whacks and whacks at the puck until he banks it in off Jimmy Howard’s skate.

3-1.

14 minutes, 52 seconds after Detroit’s last tally.

The god factor takes over. Handzus, in behind the Wings’ defense, hounds the puck away from a bumbling Howard.

3-2.

16 minutes, 26 seconds since Detroit thought they had a good lead.

A battle among battles in front of Howard. Stoll, Simmonds, Smyth. Our puck. Smyth’s 18th goal of the season.

Tie game.

37 minutes, 44 seconds since the Kings’ gave Detroit the illusion of victory.

The beast within Frolov shoves its way to the high slot, ensuring Brad Stuart’s -4 rating for the evening. He turns, he shoots. Parse follows up. Another rebound. The lord of Olympus muscles his way to the front, alone and with eye on his 6th game winning goal.

4-3.

And there you have it.

I know a lot of other cool stuff happened. Doughty turned his game completely around and finished in his usual top form after he got his helmet knocked off by a flying elbow. Quick made several big stops in tight throughout the game. Brown knocked Brad Stuart 2 inches deep into the ice with a thunderous hit in the 1st period. The 4th line of Purcell-Moller-Segal helped turn the momentum of the game around with the Kings’ best shift of the game to that point in the 2nd period. Handzus did more than score 2 goals and an assist, he absolutely dominated the entire third period. Defensively he was unbeatable. Kopitar had a incredible game, generating chances, hitting 2 posts, checking Datsyuk and Zetterberg into the ground, and even sticking up for his Captain with some nasty face-washing after the latter Wing boarded Brown.

But go watch it for yourself.

And enjoy it. Because it is sweet.