Wake-up Call: Kings, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Roger Staubach and Joe Torre
First things first: The Kings beat the Chicago Blackhawks, 5-2. Now, it's not simply because they won that gets them first mention today. It is how they won. It started with superb goaltending by Jonathan Quick. Even though I listened to it by radio, which is never a problem because Nick Nickson is just so good at play-by-play, the Kings' performance came through. The video above is from WGN courtesy of the NHL and lasts about 3 1/2 minutes. Bottom line: The Kings were fast, worked hard, kept at it, kept scoring. Helene Elliott, in her column today, writes:
"This new scoring touch that helped extend their winning streak to three and move them to within four points of the five teams ranked seventh through 11th in the West -- where has it been until now? 'Hiding,' [Jarret] Stoll said, smiling."
Overnight sensation: It would figure that one of the best matches in the Australian Open happened while most of us were sleeping here in L.A. But Rafael Nadal's victory over Fernando Verdasco was something to see, and the match is being shown again now on ESPN2.* Meanwhile, the Williams sisters proved formidable last night as they powered their way to the women's doubles title. The last two points of the final set showed just how good Venus and Serena can be. Serena goes for the women's singles title at 12:30 a.m. (yes, early Saturday morning) against Dinara Safina. It will be on ESPN2. Diane Pucin is there and will continue to post on the Fabulous Forum and on latimes.com/sports.
Past on the future: With the Super Bowl finally here (well, close enough anyway), it's always a good time to look to the game's legends. Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News talked with former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and chairman of the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee. "I was unbelievably disappointed watching that Eagles game," he told Archer. "I've never been so upset, because it just wasn't going to happen. It just seemed like they almost gave up in the second half." Fellow Hall of Famer Mel Renfro felt the same. "On paper, they should win a Super Bowl, but looking at it, there's a lack of dedication, a lack of accountability," Renfro said. "They act like spoiled rotten kids."
Past, period: So much is being made of Joe Torre and his book. The Times Bill Shaikin looks at the taboos broken and the awkward position the Dodgers are now in. For example, Torre said of former Yankees pitcher David Wells: "The difference between Kevin Brown and David Wells is that both make your life miserable, but David Wells meant to." But Wells appears to have had the best response of all so far: "When you break the code, you're a punk."
-- Debbie Goffa
* updated at 11:52 a.m.