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ATKM: Planes, Trains and Automobiles - Part 4

The final installment of Jesse Cohen's travels through the East Coast

by Jesse Cohen @KingsMenPodcast / LAKings.com

With my 15 hours in Tampa at an end and one more game remaining on my East Coast road trip, I headed out for a quick, safe, luxurious flight.

The only thing smaller than that plane was the offensive output of the LA Kings in the first three games of this trip!

Having passed out from sheer terror, I slept through the entire 60 minute flight and arrived ready for the kind of cosmopolitan culture and sophisticated atmosphere that distinguishes Miami from places like Tampa, Orlando or Jacksonville.

Of course, I wasn't in Miami. I was in Fort Lauderdale.

Every NHL arena has its own vibe and eccentricities. As I arrived at the BB&T Center, it really did feel like "hockey in Florida."

Manny Chang, the producer of The Alex Donno Show, is a huge Kings fan. So I found myself on the air for the second time in my four game trip. 

Tweet from @KingsMenPodcast: Hey @LAKings fans! Hear my pregame preview on The @AlexDonno Show from @560WQAM here before the game!https://t.co/wXGoHhc5FR

Alex couldn't have been more accommodating. While it was a thrill to represent the Kings in enemy territory, the real thrill was getting to meet former Panther and current analyst Bill Lindsay. 

Watch: Meeting Bill Lindsay

Much has been made in recent seasons of the Panthers inability to draw a crowd. It would seem somewhat hypocritical of me to accept their gracious invitation and hospitality by turning around and mocking them for a small turnout… 

But here we are.

The only thing smaller than the crowd at that game was the plane I flew in on!

To be fair, the fans who showed up were just as passionate and devoted as the fans in any of the other cities. From yelling out "RED" during the National Anthem (like they do in D.C.) to participating in every jumbotron activity, the crowd did their best.

... I suppose there's such a thing as trying TOO hard.

They even had a designated hype man to dance on the big screen and whip the crowd into a frenzy.

Tweet from @KingsMenPodcast: This is not Mel Torme pic.twitter.com/HsXWajkmBr

While I admire this kid's enthusiasm, he's no Chris Sutter.

Whether it was the lack of crowd support or the fact that they were coming off their own bye week, the Panthers seemed unprepared and incapable of stopping a suddenly potent Kings offense. Almost immediately - as if sensing all of our dread - the Kings leapt out to a 1-0 lead.

Tweet from @LAKings: First goal for the LA Kings in 121 minutes and 39 seconds....and it was a thing of beauty. pic.twitter.com/riYW1HqVKN

Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson reminded us you can only keep them off the score sheet for so long.

Tweet from @LAKings: Pearson with that fancy footwork, sends it right to Carter, and then HELLO! ... when it was 2-0 that is. pic.twitter.com/yOEzK440Az

Tweet from @LAKings: Pearson made goal magical goal #4... pic.twitter.com/mskMZ9eU4e

Tanner Pearson, Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter combined for 4 goals, 9 points and another possible line combination to look forward to in the future.

Tweet from @KingsMenPodcast: So... I'm gonna start calling it "That 170 Line"Cool?Cool.

Tyler Toffoli scored the type of goal that earned him his nickname.

Tweet from @LAKings: Toffoli's a certified G, and a bona fide stud. 3-1! pic.twitter.com/vjAHEQqYM9

Even Dwight King scored! Although, I'm not sure anyone actually saw it happen.

Tweet from @LAKings: ... and then Dwight King made goal #5... pic.twitter.com/mmYXhB7gsB

It was the kind of night where everything was clicking. Even the rookies wound up with their 1st NHL points.

Tweet from @LAKings: Congrats @pDue54 on your first @NHL point! �� pic.twitter.com/THUYNeCjMP

AND THEN OF COURSE JEFF CARTER

Tweet from @LAKings: ... and then of course Jeff Carter. #SIXGOALS pic.twitter.com/OdqTRswEai

It couldn't have been a better night for Jiggs McDonald, original Kings broadcaster, to be filling in for Bob Miller.

Tweet from @FoxSportsWest: Champagne Showers for Jiggs McDonald in honor of his last call. Thank you on behalf of the @LAKings and @FOXSportsWest pic.twitter.com/Xuxgumhy7f

For such a small crowd, there was a surprisingly large contingent of Kings fans on hand to watch the offensive explosion.

Whether it was the continued good fortune of the LA Kings Production crew on hand to film Jiggs McDonald, or the influx of Kings fans in Sunrise, I choose to believe that the Kings decided to deliver that performance for one great fan in attendance.

No. Greater.

Getting closer.

That's him.

It seems contradictory to suggest that a man in a Montreal Canadiens jersey is a great Kings fan. But that man is my father, and he's been a Kings fan since before the Wayne Gretzky trade. The Canadiens jersey was a present from me - he grew up a Habs fan. Make no mistake, even after moving to the East Coast in 2012, he watches every Kings game on TV and I was thrilled that he and my sister could be there live for this one.

So how do I feel now that my road trip following the Kings is over? Do I have any parting thoughts or pearls of wisdom to share?

In the words of Darryl Sutter, so perfectly memorialized in pin form (as seen on our favorite fan below)…

Fly at 11.

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