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Wake-up call: Kings, NHL, Dick Vitale, USC, UCLA

November 21, 2008 | 11:15 am

Goalie Erik Ersberg blocks a shot by Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, center. At left is defenseman Drew Doughty, whose eye is on the puck.

First things first: The Kings may be for real this season. Just when you thought Anze Kopitar was thinking too much when he had the puck, he let loose last night and scored, albeit an empty net. But he was on the attack every time he was on the ice. All the Kings seemed to come alive, taking down the high-flying Washington Capitals 5-2. The Kings are now a respectable 8-8-2, though the 16-3-1 San Jose Sharks lead the entire league, not only the Pacific Division. Chris Foster's take on last night's game is that the Kings kids are growing up fast. Drew Doughty, Dustin Brown and Patrick (at last he scores!) O'Sullivan all collected goals. All are part of the youth movement. Michal Handzus (age 31) also scored a goal and had an assist on the Kopitar goal. As ex-Ducks and now Kings defenseman Sean O'Donnell told Chris: "It doesn't happen in one night, where it's, 'OK, you've got it,' " he said. "You have to work to become that organization that everyone knows is going to show up and be there every night." (And nothing personal, but somebody should tell Fox Sports' Danyelle Sargent that I believe Drew's last name is pronounced DOW-TEE not DOE-TEE.)

Add hockey: To answer those of you who wondered why the game stories are sometimes deep inside the Sports section, I don't decide those things, but remember: Hockey has gotten plenty of D1 presence this season, especially with Hall of Fame writer Helene Elliott covering more games. Besides, D5 is better than D10, wouldn't you agree? And Randy Harvey, the Sports editor, has decided to bring back the NHL standings and game summaries to a position of prominence (like the NBA standings) beginning Dec. 1, now that we have a little more space with college football winding down.

Vote, vote, vote: Dick Vitale is the kind of guy you either love or hate. But if you see his list of the 50 best college basketball players in the last 30 years, the love or hate might grow. So Diane Pucin, our media writer, decided to let you help decide which player from the Western U.S. most deserved to be on that Vitale list but wasn't. Click here to see his list and vote.

Surprise, surprise: No. 4 UCLA going down to defeat was a shocker. Then so was No. 19 USC. Here is the painful (for Bruins fans) final minute of the UCLA game. The last shot was blocked, and the officials ruled it a clean block. The analyst is, of course, Dick Vitale. And here are the highlights of the USC game. Diane Pucin weighed in on these two games last night on the Fab Forum.

-- Debbie Goffa

Photo: Goalie Erik Ersberg blocks a shot by Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin. At left is defenseman Drew Doughty, whose eye is on the puck. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press