Wake-up call: Drew Doughty, Brandon Marshall, Kobe and Shaq
First things first: Rookie defenseman Drew Doughty makes the Kings worth watching. Even though the opponent was the Florida Panthers (now 4-7-1), it was fun to see him make one play after another that for long stretches kept the Panthers from even having shots on goal. At one point in the third period he flew down onto the ice, fully stretched out at precisely the right second, to poke away the puck and shut off the play (see picture above). The 18-year-old Doughty, who was the Kings' first-round pick (second overall) in June's entry draft, also had two assists last night. As Helene Elliott notes in this morning's column, it wasn't a perfect game but ...
The Panthers, near the bottom of the East and in an 0-4-1 slide, were flat. The Kings weren't much better, barely holding on to end their 0-3-2 slide after Nathan Horton's shot deflected off the foot of teammate Richard Zednik and past goaltender Erik Ersberg to pull Florida within 3-2 with 50.2 seconds left.
To the Kings, who are now 4-6-2 and starved for rewards after coming oh-so-close in one-goal losses to the Red Wings, Flames and Ducks on this homestand alone, the victory was a thing of beauty.
Add Kings: Goalie Erik Ersberg played well enough, however, to get a win and is now 1-1 with a 1.61 goals-against average. He made some terrific glove saves in the game that no doubt gives Kings fan hope.
Talking about gloves: If you didn't see last night's game between the Denver Broncos and the Cleveland Browns, then you missed one of the oddest moments this season. Late in the game, Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall scored a TD (the winning one, it turned out) and started pulling something from his pants. It was a black-and-white glove, designed to pay tribute to Barack Obama. That's against NFL rules. No props allowed (remember the popcorn and Sharpie incidents with Terrell Owens?). But there won't be a fine in this case because teammate Brandon Stokley intervened. You can see the the photo here of what Marshall was doing. Nice thought to pay tribute to Obama, but using the gloves to celebrate would have brought a penalty, with the Broncos up by only four. Brian Billick, the former coach of the Baltimore Ravens, was on the Dan Patrick show this morning and said this about Marshall's idea: "If it's going to cost your team, it's a bad idea. If that penalty cost you three points and you lose, that's bad. Billick said there are a number of ways to show your support without putting your team in jeopardy."
Gloves off: Our NBA columnist Mark Heisler takes on the saga of the Lakers in his new book, "Madmen's Ball: The Continuing Saga of Kobe, Phil and the Los Angeles Lakers." In an excerpt, the author writes about the start of Kobe Bryant's and Shaquille O'Neal's last season together. Here is a part of that:
Every day, Black [John Black, Lakers publicist] announced [Kobe] Bryant would only take basketball questions, but it was the reporters' job to ask other questions, and Bryant often answered them. When a CBS producer asked Bryant about that day's events in court, Black lifted her credentials on the spot. After Newsweek's Allison Samuels wrote a tough cover piece, she couldn't even get credentials.
For his part, [Phil] Jackson regarded this as the usual hysteria, like that which he'd turned to his own advantage in Chicago. He jauntily told the press he would show players "how to dodge questions that you guys present," and said Bryant's situation might actually be a "boon" that brought them together. Everyone else in the organization was considering alternative careers.
-- Debbie Goffa
Top photo: Drew Doughty is face down on the ice as he reaches to break up a play the Calgary Flames' Brandon Prust. Credit: Hector Mata / Associated Press
|Pop-up photo: Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall starts to pull a black-and-white glove from his pants after an 11-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter of the game against the Browns Credit: Mark Duncan / Associated Press|