The moral victory: Kings 3, Avs 2 (OT)


Apr 11, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) makes a save on a shot by Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (9) in a shootout at the Staples Center. The Kings defeated the Avalanche 3-2 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Try looking yourself in the mirror and praising a moral victory.

I’ll give you a minute to regain your dignity.

That’s where we are now. We’re the kid in the “wait til next year” t-shirt. We survived another lockout only to Suck for Seth. Tiger has reminded us that winning fixes everything, so nothing is fixed in 2013. I’m an eastern time zone fan, so the last few months have made the nights alone in the dark while my family sleeps all the more difficult.  Neighbors tend to be annoyed when you scream at your television at 10 pm. They call the police when you scream at midnight.

At least the screaming came early and was, to a certain extent, to be expected. Sami Aittokallio- fresh from the farm- had the misfortune of making his return in front of a raucous L.A. crowd with the added pressure of knowing that his counterpart was unlikely to allow the game to become a scoring frenzy. Sami was nervous and you could have sensed it standing outside the Staples Center. Two of the first six shots on goal found the back of the net. After initially surviving an early onslaught, he wilted. Jeff Carter struck first with a wrister from the left wing at the 05:27 mark and Mike Richards piled on less than two minutes later from straight ahead. Both goals were to the glove side. Neither should have gotten past. Commence the screaming.

If I were a lesser fan, I would have turned the Blu Ray player on and gotten lost again in season four of The Wire. Somehow the corruption of inner-city youths is far less troubling than the muddling mediocrity that has been this season. Atittokallio, like this team, should have packed it in. He should have melted like an outdoor rink in L.A. and taken the beating that was coming. We’d have made apologies and excuses like we’ve done for everything and everyone but Sacco this season and written it off as growing pains.

Instead, for the second consecutive game, this team showed some grit. Sami scrapped his debut off the deck and straightened his back. For the next two periods he preformed with the promise we desperately need him to have. For the next two periods (he was removed from the game around the 5:00 mark in the third due to cramps) he was 4-5 on the Power Play and bested his defending-champ counterpart across the ice.

His mates joined in the resurgence with a later half of the game that Avs fans had hoped to see in to May. Stastny and Bordeleau sent home short-range shots that drew the score even before losing in a shootout on three converted L.A. attempts.

Writers around the country this morning are dismissing the comeback as sloppy play and lack of closing ability by the Kings. Piss on that- the turnovers were forced by hustle and motivation we haven’t seen on a regular basis since mid-January. Yes, Stastny scored on a close range shot after a Kings turnover in their own zone, but hustle and pressure created that turnover. The absence of that kind of pressure has led my remote and the wall it regularly hurdles toward to become very spiritual. They, like each of us, have hoped against hope for this team to wake up and show some heart.

Is it maddening that we see glimpses in April? Of course. If we lose Seth Jones over a single hard-fought point in L.A. will I drown this article in Makers Mark? Count on it. But for today, we ignore standings and look away from the mirror. We can stomach one moral victory if it means we saw a heartbeat.