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Archive for April, 2012

Two Teams Face Elimination Sweep Today

Posted by Jane Selicha on April 18, 2012

Today is a big day for four teams in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoff hunt. In the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia Flyers lead the series against the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 while in the West the Los Angeles Kings lead their series against the Vancouver Canucks 3-0.

The Pens will face the Flyers today without Craig Adams (1 game), James Neal (1 game), and Arron Asham (4 games) due to suspensions handed out after a wild game 3. They also may be missing defenseman Zbynek Michalek tonight due to an injury. The road to victory will be tough for the Pens as they suit up four guys with a combined total of three games of playoff experience to make up for the gaping holes the suspensions leave in their lineup. With the lack of experience coming into the lineup, the Pens must rely on stellar play from Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal if they are to force a game five.

The downfall of the Pens has undoubtedly been due to their parade to the penalty box and lack of defensive composure as they allowed a total of 20 goals in three games to Philadelphia’s 12. Along with that you have to question Marc-Andre Fleury’s confidence as he has been letting in some pretty uncharacteristic goals, quite a few of which have been shorthanded. Fleury will have to bounce back to give his team a chance.

If you watched the goon fest that was game three in this series, you have to wonder just how much the Flyers are in Pittsburgh’s heads and if the Pens have the mental toughness to pull together a solid 60 minutes and bring the series back home. If their top stars can’t do it, then don’t expect their younger players to be able to do it either.  This should be a very interesting fourth game nonetheless.

If it does come down to the hand shakes at central ice, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some shenanigans accompanying the ceremony after this post game interview gem from the Pen’s captain:

 

On the opposite coast, the Vancouver Canucks are in a similar hole but their problems lie on a different level as they continue to struggle against Jonathan Quick.

Though the series has been pretty chippy, it’s not as chippy as the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia series and Vancouver has strung together a couple of top notch games in which they dominated play for the most part. However, Jonathan Quick is proving why he is a Vezina worthy candidate. Great play by Quick along with a Vancouver team that seems to struggle time and time again with finishing its opportunities is a deadly combination for the Canucks (deadly in a bad way).

Alongside Quick, Dustin Brown has been the other LA player that’s the talk of the series. In the playoffs, momentum is always a huge factor that can shift a series in one team’s favor. Dustin Brown has been doing just that for his team. In game 2, Brown had 2 shorthanded goals and came just a touch shy of a hat trick. In game 3, Brown had the game winning goal (as well as the only goal) and delivered this massive hit to Vancouver’s best player, Henrik Sedin:

 

This hit was a turning stone in the game as the Kings gained more puck possession and were able to score in the third. Talk about an effective leader.

While LA’s captain has been on the ice getting it done and rallying his team, one can argue that the Canucks’ captain hasn’t been doing the right things to lead his team on. Unless of course you find diving inspiring:

 

Kessler may need to put more focus on scoring a goal rather than trying to draw penalties and snow shower Quick to get his team going. As of now Kessler only has 2 points in this series and has yet to record a goal. Next to Dustin Brown’s 5 points, two is not enough and Kessler will need to step up his game if he wants to lead his team home to a game 5.

Vancouver has been without its top scorer in Daniel Sedin and they plan on inserting him back in the lineup today, but he himself admitted he isn’t in the best shape he can be due to a month of inactivity from a concussion. Nevertheless, he can potentially give the team a boost on the powerplay if Vancouver plans on only playing him for those specific occasions. In this series the Vancouver powerplay has gone 0-14.

Or maybe it’s the pressure? After missing the cup by one game last year, Vancouver reclaimed the President’s Trophy this year and once again were the favorites for making it to the finals. However, Vancouver may be caving in under the pressure put on them to blow any and all opposition out of the water. Their first two games at home were sloppy and a bit unorganized. Game three away from their fans was their best game of the series. It will be interesting to see how they come out for game four. Will they be energized or deflated? Time can only tell.

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@LAKings Twitter Saga Continues

Posted by Jane Selicha on April 14, 2012

It seems, as predicted, that the LA Kings Twitter feed gained a huge number of followers from it’s controversial tweets.

Continuing along similar lines though more in check, after tonight’s victory and in humorous fashion, @LAKings tweeted this:

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I don’t know about you but I’m pretty happy the Kings social media account can still keep its sense of humor after their first attempt somewhat turned into a fiasco. Although a fiasco sometimes is a good thing for an organization trying to spread its name and popularity.

Check out the twitter stats in this article I found by Mary Long as she breaks down the aftermath of  the tweeting incident. What you read may just shock you. As in the infamous “LA Kings’ tweet was retweeted 13,752 times and that this is the most retweets of any team in the NHL . . . ever. Oh and that places it in the top ten of the most retweeted tweets on Twitter.” The article Trash Talk Works Wonders for LA Kings Twitter Stream can be found here http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/trash-talk-works-on-twitter_b21016

The LA Kings are making a name for themselves. If they keep their play up, they won’t need the help of their twitter feed. But it does keep the atmosphere chippy and fun. Because it’s the playoffs.

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LA Kings Ingenious Use of Social Media Doesn’t Go Unnoticed

Posted by Jane Selicha on April 12, 2012

The players do it. The fans do it. Sometimes even the coaches do it. But heck, a team’s social media account? Surprisingly, yes.

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Though I wouldn’t necessarily call it chirping, the LA Kings Twitter feed was getting a bit cheeky last night during their first round playoff opener with the Vancouver Canucks, and what a tone that is setting for this series.

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Many Vancouver fans didn’t take too kindly to the sentiments, but at the same time it doesn’t seem like a blatant attempt to bash the Vancouver faithful either. Rather, I saw the comments as an attempt to rally Kings fans back home and across the league. Think about it, when most expert NHL analysts predict your team will lose in the first round before a single playoff puck has even been dropped, you’re not necessarily pumped for the ride. But after last night’s antics, it seems we have another great series on hand.

This is what playoff hockey is all about. And it will probably put the ratings through the roof.

Throughout Vancouver and the rest of Canada, people are watching this series very closely. LA, however, is not your typical die hard hockey town. Although the Kings are not a quiet team, they have the Lakers, the Clippers, and the Dodgers to share the spot light with. The market out in LA has huge potential, if a team does well enough to catch the public’s attention that is.

Granted, the LA Kings do have a large and extremely passionate fan base no matter how well they are doing, and these fans deserve a huge amount of respect for their loyalty and patience. But the rest of LA lives in the heat of the moment and right now the Kings are hot. They have been for the past month or so. Twitter swag just gives you more brownie points in LA. Case in point: Charlie Sheen.

Thomas Drance from the Nation Network at canucksarmy.com hits it on the spot in his article “@LAKings Tweet Sends Thin Skinned Canucks Fans Into Tizzy” http://canucksarmy.com/2012/4/12/lakings-tweet-sends-thin-skinned-canucks-fans-into-tizzy

I especially like Mr. Drance’s break down of each respective team’s social media strategy based on the different markets they are located in. It’s an interesting observation with valid points.  Essentially, the environment surrounding a team majorly influences the attitude and strategy of that organization and location plays a central role.

Drance’s take home message from the article:

“They’ve (the LA Kings) made “news”, they’ve driven conversation, and they’ve taken on a manageable level of negative attention to do so. It’s ballsy, but effective, and I applaud them for going beyond the pablum most official team accounts more regularly serve up.”

This guy gets social media marketing, especially the type of marketing that brings many modern celebrities success and followers (think of how controversy catapulted Lady Gaga to fame). It is Hollywood after all.

But, no matter your point of view, you can’t deny that the hype surrounding the playoffs is more than half the fun. Vancouver fans are riled up. LA fans have undoubtedly regained their confidence (if it was ever lost in the first place).

And I’m sure the LA Kings Twitter account has just acquired a generous number of new followers.

I can’t wait ’til Friday.

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