The Nashville Predators (herein to be referred to as the Graceland Sunday Dresses), got off to a hot start this season, playing their first 8 games without a loss in regulation. Well after winning their first three games in regulation, losing the next three in overtime, then winning two more in regulation, the Sunday Dresses are on a three game pointless streak.
Tonight, the Kings intend to stretch that record for the Sunday Dresses to four while extending their own streak to 6 consecutive wins at home, where they are so far unbeaten on Staples Center ice.
However, the building won’t be quite as loud as normal. I will not be attending this game.
Calm down. Collect yourselves. Everything will be OK.
Though I am pissed. Not just to miss a game, but to miss Ryan Smyth’s 1000th.
Smyth, who has been on fire since joining Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams on the pseudo-1st line, will be playing just his 80th in a Kings’ sweater. Incredible to believe that the hard but crooked-nosed man who still has no fear diving head first into any number of opposing defenseman with the puck, came to us with 920 games of the same under his belt.
In honor of this milestone, the Kings came to practice today sporting some threads other than those in their jerseys. Thanks to Rich Hammond for posting the pictures. Helene Elliott also posted some blurry pictures on her twitter.
I’m not sure, but I think Mrs. Spatz might be posting some pictures of her own (you know, the professional looking kind) of the Kings leaving practice in their mullet wigs from yesterday.
What I am sure of, is that thanks to Kasey I now know that a Graceland Sunday Dresses’ warm-up looks like a J Crew commercial.
Click here for the full gallery of photos from Nashville’s Practice (more from Kings’ practice to come later)
A metaphorical premonition of things to come also took place at practice yesterday when Shane O’Brien took a puck to the sack.
Think that hurt you pile of former Canuck excrement? Wait until you get a load of this year’s Kings. Wait until you see a lineup that features BOTH Kyle Clifford and Kevin Westgarth (Trevor Lewis gets to watch this one in a suit and tie).
This brings us to another point of discussion. This will either be Kyle Clifford’s last game as a King this year, or his next will be the first of the rest of his career. Tonight is his 9th NHL game. He can play no more without burning a year off his contract. While he could still technically be sent down to juniors after his 10th game, a team would have to be pretty silly wasting a year of a professional contract on a player not playing professional hockey.
Scribe may just be right on the money in his article yesterday.
Or, Terry Murray is all too fully aware of the cheep goonery employed by Sunday Dress players like O’Brien. Either way, this game is set up for a world of hurt.
Which brings us to the keys to tonight’s game:
- Establish the physical game early. This game WILL get physical and nasty and the Kings will be better off to set that tone rather than respond to it.
- Two passes and out. As opposed to some of the other speedy rush teams the Kings’ have faced lately, the Predators know to cycle and grind. It is Coach Barry Trotz’s bread and butter. The Kings must be diligent in their puck support in their own zone and once the puck hits a King’s stick, it must be moved quickly beyond the blueline. Failed clearing attempts are a bigger no-no than usual against the Sunday Dresses.
- Use that skill. The Sunday Dresses are and always have been a team that relies on good defense and wearing down their opponents. They do not possess much highlight level raw skill. In this department, the Kings have them trumped. Kopitar, Parse and Williams should shine.
- Choose your shots wisely. Pekka Rinne is a goalie who thrives on a large workload. He is not some rookie that will crumble the more shots you throw at him. Rinne’s focus will only sharpen if he sees too many ‘gimme’ shots. Yes, throwing the puck to the front of the net is never a bad idea, but in Rinne’s case one smart shot is worth three shots for the sake of shooting.
- Speaking of goaltending, Jonathan Bernier, who gets the start in net tonight, needs to play better than he did in his last game. Last year Bernier came up and shut out the Sunday Dresses in a season where the Kings couldn’t buy a win in Graceland. Keep that composure Bernier.
Always and forever,
GO KINGS GO!