Authors Note: During the regular season I will be trying to look at 2 different NHL teams every week. Typically it will be one Eastern Team and one Western Team, but that may adjust depending on developing stories in the NHL.
Los Angeles Kings: A Banner Year
Well much has been made already about the LA Kings and the fact that they are on the precipice of “Dynasty”. I know that they certainly impressed me last year during the playoffs. The thing that I found to be most outstanding was the teams resilience. It was on full display during the playoffs, and in my opinion, it was much more impressive than their first Stanley Cup during the 2011-2012 season. That season found the Kings literally buzzing their way through the Western Conference and the Final. More of that was on display last season, but I thought it was a more refined win. They had to fight adversity, they weren’t really given the respect they probably deserved early on. By the end of the playoffs it was abundantly clear. They have definitely emerged as a “playoff team”, and really there is nothing to suggest that their successes might not double in the next four years.
I bring up how impressed I am with the Los Angeles Kings because the ceremony celebrating last season’s win was to me, anything but impressive:
First of all, the Stanley Cup dropping from the ceiling is the height of cheesiness. I’m sure there was a great amount of discussion in regards to how to wow their fans on opening night, and I’m sure for those in attendance it may have had a different feel, but it just felt so incredibly forced to me. I can only see the fallout going forward. Teams are going to start trying to outdo each other with their celebrations. Soon you will see the Stanley Cup arrive via rocket ship or log flume (which would actually be quite impressive in my opinion). I get that the NHL is in the entertainment business, but nothing can really replicate the feelings generated from an actual hockey game, which is probably why this doesn’t sit with me so well.
Along with my personal feelings on the LA Kings trophy presentation, take a look at the actual team when the Cup drops from the rafters. Do they look like a team that is excited about what is transpiring in front of them. To me, they look embarrassed. Dustin Brown’s face looks like he is being asked to solve a math equation on the blackboard. The rest of the team is softly tapping their sticks, which is the hockey version of kicking your feet and saying “Aw shucks.” Sure they won the Championship… last season (along with each getting their very own LA Kings Power Ring).
The team won the Stanley Cup in their own rink last year. Then they had a parade, and each had time with the Cup all summer. I think raising the banner and moving on with the season is sufficient enough. This post isn’t necessarily an attack on the LA Kings (or their Twitter account), but on the strong possibility that this is likely to become something that we must endure at the beginning of every season, regardless the team. Which I think we can just do without.
New York Rangers: Rick Nash-Master Illusionist
Rick Nash is a great player, isn’t he? After all he did win a (shared) Rocket Richard trophy. Mind you that was for a 41 goal season. Although that was also a completely different NHL. He did carry a struggling franchise on his back for a very long time, which is admirable. But wait, aren’t they poised for more success now than they ever have been. Okay in his professional career he has scored: 340 goals, 293 assists for 633 total points in 786 games. That means he scores in 80% of his games Those are fairly impressive numbers. But wait, his playoff numbers look something like this: 5 goals, 13 assists for 18 points in 41 games. That means he is scoring in 44% of his playoff games. That is a staggering drop off for what many consider to be a franchise player. What’s that? You say that the playoffs are a different animal? That teams check harder and play with more emotion? I couldn’t agree with you more. If only Rick Nash played in some other high intensity environment. Hold on what’s this? His stats from his Olympic experiences are as follows: 2 goals 5 assists for 7 points in 19 games played. That’s a 37% scoring rate. That’s also over 3 different Olympics. Just who is Rick Nash?
For anyone that has watched the NHL while Nash has been in the league know that he is in all honesty a supremely talented individual.
He really does have some of the softest hands in the league. You couple that with the fact that he is 6’3″ and 205 pounds, and Nash should in all honesty be one of the more dominant players in the league. His regular season numbers seem to suggest that as well. This season has already seen Nash score 4 goals, 1 assist for 5 points in 3 games. That is scoring at a rate of 166%. Now it would be completely unfair to ever expect anyone (not named Sidney Crosby) to produce at that rate. On the other hand, for someone making 7.8 million per year, I don’t think its a stretch to have some expectations. Now I know, there will be those of you reading this that will say, “You just proved that he does produce….in the regular season.” Yes, I did say that, but tell me, wouldn’t a team (and a fan base) much rather that production happen consistently through the season and the playoffs. I think it is upon the great players in the league to find a way to work through the defensive pressure they face. I just think if I were a New York Rangers fan, I couldn’t help but think what could have been last spring if Rick Nash and Co. were as productive as they could be. Ah, but that’s the struggle of the fan, thinking about the “Whatifs”. Until a player goes out and scores 4 goals in the first 3 games of the season. Then it becomes the “Why now”?
Cover Photo Credit: Getty Images