Don't Send Money, Send Some Goals

To: Bernie Nicholls

New York Rangers

Madison Square Garden

New York, N.Y.

Dear Bern:

Having a miserable time. Wish you were here.

Just watched your old pals the Kings get stuffed again, 6-1, in Game 2 of the Smythe Division finals Friday night. Things look bleak, Bernie. They have to take four of the next five from Edmonton now or Stanley's never going to give them that lousy cup of his.

Hey, heard you scored three goals for the Rangers--in one game! Please call, tell us what it felt like.

The Kings came up here to play a little playoff hockey against the Oilers--and got one goal in two games. They got outscored, 13-1. There have been more thrilling finishes at the Ice Capades. The King offense was nowhere to be found again Friday. We've seen better shots taken over the course of 60 minutes by Mike Wallace.

Here is merely a partial list of those who scored one fewer goal than Los Angeles did in two nights of exciting professional hockey action:

Gordie Howe. Robbie Ftorek. The Calgary Flames. Tony Danza. Janet Jones. The Atlanta Flames. Gump Worsley. The staff of the Edmonton Journal. Bob Miller and Nick Nickson. Phil and Tony Esposito. The Laker Girls. Denis Morel. The King Girls. Marcel Dionne. Brett Hull's old man. The 1980 Olympic team. "Lucky Butt." John and Ron Ziegler. Bob and Doug McKenzie. Bob Probert. Brian Mulrooney. The guy who drives the Zamboni. You.

Wayne Gretzky didn't even get one measly point, Bernie. Sad times in Wayne's World.

And who scored two goals in two games for Edmonton? Martin Gelinas, the throw-in in the Gretzky trade, that's who.

Oh, and Bernie, you might be interested to know that neither Tomas Sandstrom nor Tony Granato lit any lamps. They're the guys New York traded for you when you wound up going from Kings to Queens.

Poor old Sandstrom even put the puck into the net once and they still wouldn't give him a goal. Said he was carrying his stick too high. Picky, picky, picky.

The only one who got a legal goal in two games against the Oilers was Chris Kontos, who owns these guys. If Kontos played every day against Edmonton, Bernie, he'd outscore you and Gretzky combined.

This probably sounds as though the Kings played lousy. On the contrary, they were in the thick of Friday's game, right until the last seven minutes. It was only 2-1 up to then. The Kings played pretty decent hockey; they just couldn't get the puck past this Bill Ranford character, who must be using a stick with a five-foot blade.

Forget that old Oiler goalie, Grant Fuhr. Where goals are concerned, this guy Ranford grants fewer than Grant Fuhr.

The Kings got so frustrated trying to score one more lousy time, they pulled their goalie--with 3 1/2 minutes to go. All that got them was another goal for Edmonton.

Eventually, the Oilers ended up replacing their own goalie, because the exasperated Kings were beginning to swing their sticks at Ranford more often than they swung them at the puck.

Even without you, Bernie, this team can usually shoot the puck. You may recall that around 11 days ago, these same Kings racked up a dozen goals against Calgary in one night. We sure wish they had saved some for a rainy day, because it's pouring, man.

Coach Tom Webster doesn't know what's the matter any more than you or anybody else. His entire postgame commentary Friday consisted of a mention of "a couple of calls" that Webster's dictionary defined as bull droppings. And they say sportswriters have trouble analyzing games.

If the coach changes lines for Sunday's Game 3, the first one he ought to change is the one he used after Game 2.

Maybe when the Kings get back to the Forum, they'll drop another of those 12-spots on another visiting team.

Goals, goals, who's got the goals? Gretzky gets a breakaway 80 seconds into the game, takes a slapshot and Ranford stops it. Granato takes five shots in the first two periods and goes 0 for five. Gretzky sees the left side of the net open, and whisks one wide of the post. Luc Robitaille tries to poke one from the crease, Keith Crowder aims one point-blank, Steve Duchesne draws a bead on Ranford . . . and zip. They shoot blanks.

Hey Bernie, weren't you the one who thought the Kings needed work on defense?

Whatever advice you have, please fax. We're skating on thin ice.

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