One thing I’ve learned in five years coaching Little League is never let the kids know they’re overmatched. Talk about it with the assistant coaches, maybe tell a parent or two, even tip off the plate umpire. You never know, it might get you a close call down the line.
That’s why it seemed a bit strange Monday night following the Kings’ 4-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, when coach Terry Murray began describing Chicago’s consistent high level of play, then compared the matchup with his team to a professional golfer playing a 5-handicapper.
"[The pro] just has to play the game, because he knows, if you’re a 5-handicapper, something is going to give, somewhere down the road," Murray said. "Some days, that 5-handicap golfer might win the game, but unfortunately I think we shot ourselves in the foot again here tonight."
Murray may not recognize this, but the difference between a pro golfer and a 5-handicap is quite substantial. Is Murray saying the gap between the Blackhawks and the Kings is just as large?
Granted, the Kings lost all four meetings against Chicago this season but three were by one goal and the other by two. Los Angeles was right there with the Blackhawks in every game. The results may have been one-sided but the difference in performance was minuscule.
In fact, the Kings still lead Chicago in the NHL skins game that’s better known as the Western Conference standings.
Hardly a difference that can fit on a handicap index.
The Kings, being one of the youngest teams in the NHL, don’t need to feel inferior to the Blackhawks, or any other team for that matter. Chicago won the Stanley Cup title last season, but they're certainly not head and shoulders above the Kings.