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Staples Opener: Not So Fast, Kings Fans

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If one of the NHL’s new rule changes included shortening the game from three periods to two, you would be reading a far different post right now. It would be a celebration of the Kings young guns, who scored all three goals against the St. Louis Blues. I would be praising the coming of a new savior, rookie netminder Jonathon Bernier, who played brilliantly. But alas, the game still has three periods, and last night’s final frame made sure I don’t get too far ahead of myself. A bright start faded to a typical Kings finish, and the Blues strolled away with a 5-3 win.

But damn, the Kings sure looked great in the opening 40 minutes! Bernier, who nearly shut out the Ducks in his first game, was looking sharp and helping some Kings fans all but forget a history of goaltending woes. Playing even better was the face of the future: Anze Kopitar. The second-year sensation assisted on all three Kings goals, making the Blues look silly each time and gifting his linemates Michael Camalleri and Dustin Brown with easy put-aways. Unfortunately, he can’t do it all, and in the third period the magic wore off. Penalties, defensive breakdowns, and zero offensive spark all contributed to the Blues scoring four straight in the third, ruining the Kings’ opening-night party.

Notes from Celebrity Row: For better or for worse, my tickets place me right in the middle of the Hollywood seats, a couple of sections with access to the VIP lounge in the bowels of Staples Center. Every now and then there’s something fun going on here that’s not exactly game-related, and it will get reported here. Still lamenting the loss of Elisha Cuthbert (who followed her boyfriend Sean Avery out of town in a trade), I knew opening night would be a fine opportunity to see if any starlet(s) would be filling her shoes. The regulars were there, including Luc Robitaille’s stunning wife as well as some Marty McSorley-era groupies, but I couldn’t find any US Weekly fodder in the first hour. Finally, a member of the A-list graced Staples in the form of Hayden Panettiere. Time will tell if she will join the regulars, which include Sandra Bullock, Jesse James, Rob Zombie, Tom Leykis, et al. I heard Elisha and Sean went their separate ways recently. So hey Elisha, I play hockey too. It’s a men’s beer league out of Culver City, but that’s neither here nor there. Come on back!

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Peanut Gallery Quote of the Night: Hockey is not the safest spectator sport, and at times fans come into contact with flying pucks or shattered plexiglass. Last night a deflected puck made it’s way into the stands ten rows in front of me, bloodying the face of a poor woman who either could not react in time or was not paying attention. A nearby fan, assuming the latter, shouted, “Stop texting!” as she was led from her seat. Nice. A few minutes later, Kings winger Patrick O’Sullivan lost a few teeth after getting hit in the face with a puck and the same dude said it again.

AP Photo by Danny Moloshok