The bronze likeness of the former King Bob Miller broadcasterfrozen in half wave on the outside Crypto.com Arenahe was dressed for a Friday celebration, with dozens of black, white, and silver balloons floating above and behind him as he stared unblinkingly at a stretch of Olympic Boulevard that had been occupied by a street festival.
Give Los Angeles a reason to celebrate and you won’t have to ask someone twice to arrange one. In this case, it was the return of the NHL playoffs.
“There’s definitely pent-up excitement,” said Arthur Whang, 48, a Woodland Hills labor attorney and longtime subscriber to the Kings. “There is nothing worse than irrelevant matches in the second half of the regular season.
“Hockey has been tough over the last few years.”
How rough is it? Until Friday, the Kings hadn’t played a post-season home game in more than four years; they haven’t won one here in eight years. The last home win was a long time ago, in fact the arena was still called Staples Center and Miller was a real-life announcer, not a statue.
So call it the Bob Miller curse because the Kings have not tasted victory in a home playoff game since the Hall of Famer was cast in bronze. And even though the real-life Miller returned for a cameo on the team’s pre-match TV show on Friday, briefly sharing Star Plaza with his heavy metal doppelganger, the curse continued with the Edmonton Oilers ride a hat trick from Evandro Kane and two goals from Zach Hyman Other Ryan Nugent Hopkins to Victory for 8-2.
“I can sum it all up for this. We weren’t well ” King’s coach Todd McLellan he said at a 31-second post-game press conference of a question. “We are really disappointed. We got trapped in their game. You can ask me about people, I’ll give you the same answer for all of them. They weren’t any good. And we must reorganize “.
The result extended the streak of losing streak in the playoffs at the Kings home to six games, while the margin of defeat equaled the most one-sided defeat in 32 years. The other six-goal defeat came in Edmonton on Wednesday.
Yet despite having lost twice in rout in a 72-hour period, the Kings are just 2-1 down in the best-of-seven series, which continues Sunday in Los Angeles.
“This is a big slap in the face,” said forward Phillip Danault. “But luckily it’s only 2-1, so we need to reorganize and strengthen the team.”
The atmosphere was lively outside the arena three hours before the opening match, with a sun-splashed crowd in purple Kings jerseys and blue and orange Edmonton Oilers sweaters gathering in front of a stage to listen to live music. . Nearby, children crowded into a small street hockey rink.
But after the record fell, the celebration drew to a close early for most of the sold-out crowd, with Leon Draisaitl and Hyman giving the Oilers a 2-0 lead before many fans found their place. After Hyman’s goal – Edmonton’s fifth power-play score in the series – the building went silent.
As Kane and Hyman doubled their lead with goals 75 seconds apart early in the second period, the silence turned to rumbles of disapproval. McLellan responded by throwing goalkeeper Jonathan Quick, who had given up 13 goals in less than eight bouts, but that didn’t make a difference with Kane welcoming backup Cal Petersen with a goal two minutes later.
The Kings eventually responded with second-quarter goals from Anze Kopitar and Danault, with Danault in power play. This was significant as it was the team’s first scoring with the man’s advantage on 11 occasions in the series.
But Edmonton pulled both back in the third period with goals 81 seconds behind Nugent-Hopkins, after which the stairs filled up as fans headed for the exits. Kane then ended the rout with his third goal of the match in the last minute.
Cody Ceci had three assists and Connor McDavid two for the Oilers, who beat the Kings 17-6 in the series.
“We didn’t play well enough tonight. We did not play well enough in the last game, “said defender Alex Edler.” We will do everything possible to equalize in the next game. We just have to look forward to the next game. “
If the Kings’ postseason absence, the longest in a dozen years, seemed long, for Whang, a fan since the 90s and a season ticket holder since 2013, it’s over sooner than expected. He thought rebuilding the team would take another couple of seasons, making this playoff series a pleasant surprise, even if, after Friday’s result, he doesn’t expect it to last.
“I care about this series, but it’s all gravy,” said Whang, who wore a silver Quick sweater while wife Lindsey wore a no. 11 Kopitar shirt. “No expectations other than to compete and learn. Of course, you hope they can pull a 2012 again.
That was the season the Kings finished third in the Pacific Division, then caught fire in the playoffs, winning their first Stanley Cup on home ice. They repeated in 2014, again lifting the Cup in Los Angeles.
Three years later Miller retired and the Kings, like the bronze broadcaster in front of their building, have been stuck ever since.