If there's one thing I've learned so far in doing these weekly recaps, it's that even the world of the Pacific Division doesn't always revolve around our favorite team. And with only two games played this week, this had been shaping up to be a particularly quiet week from the Los Angeles Kings.
That is, of course, until this happened.
This week belonged to Dwight King. But I guess in the interest of fairness we'll talk about some other stuff that happened too. *yawn*
This Week in News
(any big stories from the past week, both in LA and around the division. if there aren't any, maybe we'll just make some things up.)
-Probably the biggest non-Dwight story that came out of la-la land this week was some interesting musing from Darryl Sutter on the future of defenseman Alec Martinez; namely, the idea of trying him out on the wing instead. We've all seen from a distance what putting defenseman Brent Burns onto the wing has done for our rivals in San Jose, but as Eric correctly pointed out in his article, Burns had actually played at forward before his NHL days, while Alec has not. At best this will likely be a slow process. But there's plenty of success stories to draw on, even putting aside Burns. Down in Manchester, the Kings' AHL affiliate recently moved defensively-challenged D-man Nick Deslauriers to LW (the same position Martinez would likely shift to), to great success so far. So this is something to perhaps keep your eyes on going forward.
-Here's an interesting little article from Kings Insider this week, on the reputation of the Kings as a physical team and avoiding the current climate of suspensions. It's always worth pointing out that our supposedly "dirty" captain has appeared in 651 NHL games with only one suspension to his name so far (compare that to, say, Shane Doan for instance). Good thing they don't suspend for diving I guess!
-Also, literally just breaking as I was writing this, the Kings appear to be about to make a roster move of some kind. Robert speculated for us on what that could be, since other than "they're about to make a roster move" there hasn't been much concrete news just yet. Still, stay tuned.
-Speaking of suspensions, in Anaheim our old friend Dustin Penner unfortunately took a rather dirty hit from Dallas' Ryan Garbutt, who was suspended five games as a result. Penner was concussed from the hit, and had some, uh, choice words for the officials in that contest (who didn't call even a minor on the play). Darren Dreger appeared on NHL Network a few days later and said the NHL office wasn't planning on disciplining him for criticizing the officials publicly, apparently understanding his frustration.
-Out in San Jose, other than finally losing in regulation for the first time this season (in hilarious fashion, but more on that later), the Sharks also suffered another loss this week when Doug Wilson's naked pictures came back to bite him, I presume, since that's the only explanation for why he'd trade for Mike Brown. GMs really need to put their camera phones away once the booze starts flowing. I hope everyone has learned from this.
-Meanwhile in Vancouver, more injuries! Jannik Hansen was sent back to Vancouver following their game against the Islanders on Tuesday, with his status currently unknown. But in some good news for the team, Alex Burrows appears to be close to returning from an injury of his own. Fun fact: that post about Burrows also includes a Torts quote about how the team isn't allowed to dive or whine anymore. Not sure if including a "no diving/whining" quote from the head coach in the same post as "Alex Burrows is almost ready to come back!" was intentional or not (or which would be funnier), but there you go.
-Hey, do you wanna watch an interview Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith did with the NHL Network? No? Well, don't click this link then.
-This week's Calgary Flames news comes courtsey of my good friend, Captain Obvious. The Flames are keeping rookie center Sean Monahan for the rest of the season. This surely has nothing to do with their total lack of center depth, nosiree.
-On the more depressing side of Alberta, the Edmonton Oilers found out this week that their own young star center Sam Gagner will miss at least another week of action due to his broken jaw still having too much "tenderness". That was back on the 25th, which means he's out for tonight's Oilers-Kings showdown, which is good because he's like pretty good at hockey and stuff. Yep.
This Week in Games
(here's all the games involving the Pacific Division from this past week. we'll talk about the LA Kings' games in great detail, while the rest will mostly just be scores, unless I have something to say about it. you'll also get links to Eric's awesome recaps and Nick's fantastic grades/analysis, which will expand on everything I'm saying in much greater detail if you missed any of them.)
Sunday, October 20th
-Columbus Blue Jackets 3, Vancouver Canucks 1
-Anaheim Ducks 6, Dallas Stars 3: This was the game that had the aforementioned Garbutt hit on Penner. It also saw the Stars get out to an early 3-1 lead in the first, only to let the Ducks score five unanswered goals and take the game in regulation. Unlike in the LA-Dallas game from the previous night, this one wasn't Dan Ellis' fault, as it was American super-rookie Jack Campbell in net for the Stars. He did what he could, stopping 41 of 47 (!!!) shots, but in the end the Ducks just steamrolled over Dallas.
Monday, October 21st
-San Jose Sharks 1, Detroit Red Wings 0 (SO): Even when these jerkoffs don't score a single goal in 65 minutes of play, they still get two points. I give up.
-Calgary Flames 3, Los Angeles Kings 2: Oh sweet jesus I have to talk about this game again. Okay, here we go: the Kings mostly outplayed Calgary at even strength, at least for long stretches. They had two big problems in this game: one, they couldn't finish enough of their chances against Calgary goaltender Karri Ramo (who was excellent, stopping 27 of 29 shots), and two, their penalty kill (which had been stellar coming in) sucked ass, allowing Calgary to score three power play goals. The Kings did have a power play tally of their own to go along with a shorthanded goal, but they weren't able to beat Ramo at even strength. And that left things open for Calgary when maybe the worst referee in a league full of them, Dennis LaRue, made an incredibly weak call against Anze Kopitar with a little over two minutes left in a tied game. Based on the rulebook that's a hooking call, but based on the game situation (a game at Staples, when Calgary had gotten FIVE straight power plays leading up to it, and the referees had let many things go for the previous twelve minutes or so) it was an awful, awful call. And the Kings failed to kill off the resulting power play, as T.J. Brodie scored with just 30 seconds left in regulation, and that was all she wrote. A game where the Kings should have gotten two points and looked like they were going to get at least one ended up with nothing but a really bad taste in all of our mouths. So yeah, that sucked. (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)
Tuesday, October 22nd
-Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Anaheim Ducks 2: After their great comeback against Dallas on Sunday, this time it was the Ducks' turn to blow a lead in Toronto. They got out to an early 2-0 lead on the strength of a late 1st period goal from Nick Bonino and an early 2nd period goal from Mathieu Perreault, but then watched the Leafs score four straight goals of their own to put a stop to Anaheim's seven-game winning streak. Jonathan Bernier beating the Ducks probably made all of you feel a little warm and fuzzy inside, don't be afraid to admit it.
-Vancouver Canucks 5, New York Islanders 4 (OT)
-Edmonton Oilers 4, Montreal Canadiens 3: There was a lot of buzz going into this one based on some remarks Lars Eller made about the Oilers, saying they played like a junior team (well, they kinda do, no?). Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins, who was brought in specifically to give the young Oilers (oops, hope he doesn't find me and kill me for that one) more structure seemed to take particular offense to that remark, and specifically pointed to Eller's remarks afterwards as a motivating factor for his team following the win. Well, sure, that and also Carey Price's .875 sv%, but whatevs I guess.
-Phoenix Coyotes 4, Calgary Flames 2: In yet more proof of how much the NHL schedule makers hate us, our rivals in Phoenix got to wait up for the Flames to finish their fluky win over us on Monday night before getting to play them the next day. And those pesky Flames still put up a good fight, rallying back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game three minutes into the third.....only to watch Mike Ribeiro take the lead right back for the Flames 2:47 later. Sucks to be them I guess.
Wednesday, October 23rd
-As we went over during last week's look ahead, this was the first night of the season so far to not feature a single Pacific Division team in action. Four other NHL teams that do not matter played games that didn't matter. Moving on....
Thursday, October 24th
-Boston Bruins 2, San Jose Sharks 1: So yeah, this happened. That was pretty cool. And more importantly, it gave the Sharks their first regulation loss of the season, breaking their streak of nine straight games with at least a point to start their 2013-14 NHL campaign. Yep, pretty cool!
-Vancouver Canucks 3, New Jersey Devils 2 (SO): Once again Roberto Luongo outdueled Cory Schneider in their second (and final) head-to-head meeting, stopping 28 of 30 shots (while Cory was only able to stop 19 of 21) and ultimately prevailing in a shootout. Personally I'm still mad at John Tortorella for exnaying TSN's planned sequel to the Luongo-Schneider saga.
-Montreal Canadiens 4, Anaheim Ducks 1
-Dallas Stars 5, Calgary Flames 1
-Washington Capitals 4, Edmonton Oilers 1: Yikes, not a good night for the Pacific outside of that Vancouver win huh? The Oilers, Flames, Ducks, and Sharks somehow combined to score a total of four goals (while allowing 13), mostly against the East too. I guess things had to start balancing out a little bit there. Or, in the case of the Oilers, just continue being terrible.
-Los Angeles Kings 7, Phoenix Coyotes 4: Given all the (virtual) ink that's been spilled around these parts about this game and more specifically Dwight King's hat trick, shame on you if you need me to recap this one for you! But okay, very quickly: first the Kings scored four unanswered goals on Mike Smith in the first period, chasing him from the net in the process. Phoenix came back with four straight goals of their own, creating traffic and havoc in front of Jonathan Quick, as everyone got terrible flashbacks to that LA-SJ playoff game from a few years ago. But luckily for the Kings, the script had a different ending this time around. as Mike Richards would score an unassisted shorthanded goal following a deft puck-stripping of Radim Vrbata just 2:29 after Phoenix had tied things up at 4. That goal would prove to be the game winner, as Matt Frattin scored his first goal as a King to make it 6-4 and Dwight King of course put the finishing touches on his hat trick with an empty netter to seal it up. An amazing game, all things considered. King's hat trick (rightfully) overshadowed the first goals of the season from Frattin, Richards, and Anze Kopitar, who was clearly inspired by his appearance on Ellen earlier that afternoon. No confirmation on the rumor that Kopi will now go to a taping of Ellen's show before every Kings home game, whether he's booked as a guest or not. Also by the way, if you like gifs from Fantasy Island boy was this the gamethread for you. (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)
Friday, October 25th
-Anaheim Ducks 2, Ottawa Senators 1
-Vancouver Canucks 3, St. Louis Blues 2 (OT): The Canucks won this one on a power play goal in overtime, although there was a bit of controversy involved. The Blues clearly felt that Henrik Sedin hooked defenseman Alex Pietrangelo leading directly to the goal moments later, so a huge doneybrook broke out afterwards involving everyone on the ice for both teams. In the end though, Vancouver got the win in this battle of the team who had played the most games in the NHL (Vancouver) and the team who had played the least (St. Louis) entering the night. The Blues were in fact playing after getting a full week off before this game, and it certainly showed as they appeared sluggish throughout.
Saturday, October 26th
-Phoenix Coyotes 5, Edmonton Oilers 4: This wacky afternoon game saw the Coyotes get out to an early 3-1 lead over the Oilers at home less than six minutes into the 2nd, watch the Oilers score the next three goals to take a 4-3 lead of their own 7:23 into the 3rd, then come back with two more goals to ultimately win it in regulation. The Coyotes scoring nine goals in two games (while allowing 11) is surely some sign of the apocalypse, so I guess we've had a good run.
-San Jose Sharks 2, Montreal Canadiens 0
-Calgary Flames 5, Washington Capitals 2
This Week in Standings
|1. San Jose||11||9||1||1||19||8||43||18||+25||5-0-0||4-1-1||WON 1|
|2. Vancouver||13||8||4||1||17||7||38||37||+1||2-2-0||6-2-1||WON 3|
|3. Anaheim||11||8||3||0||16||7||35||28||+7||5-0-0||3-3-0||WON 1|
|4. Phoenix||12||7||3||2||16||7||40||39||+1||4-0-1||3-3-1||WON 1|
|5. Los Angeles||11||7||4||0||14||4||33||29||+4||3-2-0||4-2-0||WON 1|
|6. Calgary||11||5||4||2||12||5||34||39||-5||3-0-1||2-4-1||WON 1|
|7. Edmonton||12||3||8||1||7||2||35||48||-13||1-3-0||2-5-1||LOST 2|
The big mover this week was Vancouver, who won all three of their games to finish off their long road trip in style. Those six points were enough to move them up from fifth all the way to second, albeit it having played 2 more games than most of the teams around them (and at least 1 more than anyone else). While San Jose remained at first place, everyone else between fifth and second moved down one spot as a result: the Ducks fell from second to third, the Coyotes fell from third to fourth, and the Kings fell from fourth to fifth. Things remain very tightly packed from first to sixth however, with even the Calgary Flames (who are still in sixth place) just seven points out of first. The Edmonton Oilers couldn't build on their big win over the Canadiens to start the week, ultimately losing their next two to Washington & Phoenix to remain the division's doormats.
This Week in #fancystats
(all stats are total attempts, not percentages. thanks to extra skater)
Flames 3, Kings 2
Corsi: Kings 58-Flames 47 (overall), Kings 48-Flames 34 (5v5, 44.2 mins), Kings 48-Flames 34 (5v5 close, 44.0 mins), Kings 47-Flames 32 (5v5 tied, 39.6 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 41-Flames 38 (overall), Kings 35-Flames 26 (5v5, 44.2 mins), Kings 35-Flames 26 (5v5 close, 44.0 mins), Kings 34-Flames 24 (5v5 tied, 39.6 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Kopitar (+7), Clifford/Stoll/Greene/Williams/Mitchell/Regehr/Doughty (tied, +6). Worst: Frattin/Richards (tied, even), Fraser (+1)
Kings 7, Coyotes 4
Corsi: Kings 59-Coyotes 51 (overall), Kings 37-Coyotes 37 (5v5, 44.2 mins), Kings 5-Coyotes 5 (5v5 close, 4.6 mins), Coyotes 1-Kings 0 (5v5 tied, 1.1 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 50-Coyotes 38 (overall), Kings 32-Coyotes 28 (5v5, 44.2 mins), Kings 5-Coyotes 4 (5v5 close, 4.6 mins), Kings 0-Coyotes 0 (5v5 tied, 1.1 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Richards/Frattin (tied, +7), Doughty (+6). Worst: Carcillo/Voynov (tied, -8), Mitchell (-7)
Next Week in the Pacific
(this is exactly what it sounds like: the next week's schedule for all 7 Pacific Division teams. all times are pacific because, um, duh.)
|LA||vs.EDM (6:00)||-||@PHX (7:00)||vs.SJ (7:30)||-||-||vs.NSH (7:30)|
|SJ||@OTT (2:00)||-||-||@LA (7:30)||-||-||vs.PHX (7:30)|
|VAN||-||vs.WSH (7:00)||-||vs.DET (7:30)||-||-||vs.TOR (4:00)|
|ANA||@CBJ (3:00)||-||@PHI (4:00)||-||@BOS (4:00)||@BUF (4:00)|
|PHX||-||-||vs.LA (7:00)||-||vs.NSH (7:00)||-||@SJ (7:30)|
|CGY||-||-||-||vs.TOR (5:00)||-||vs.DET (6:00)||-|
|EDM||@LA (6:00)||-||vs.TOR (6:00)||-||-||-||vs.DET (7:00)|
Things are going to get busy for the Kings this week, as after playing just two games last time they've got a four game slate ahead of them. They finish up their first four-game homestand tonight against the woeful Oilers, head on the road for a quick stop in Phoenix on Tuesday, and then start another four-game homestand right away again the following night when the Sharks come into town. Their week wraps up with another sure-to-be-thrilling chapter of Kings-Perds Saturday night. Of course everyone should be focused on the first Kings-Sharks game of the season, but it's nice to know we'll at least have that whole back-to-back thing to comfort us with should the Sharks kick our asses on Wednesday.
Speaking of the Sharks, they get their final of five straight Eastern Conference opponents tonight in Ottawa, before finishing up their six-game road trip in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Saturday night's game against the Coyotes starts a modest three-game homestand for them, before they'll be right back on the road for another five-game road trip. The Vancouver Canucks can relate. Following their own seven-game road trip that just came to a close on Friday, they've got a three-game homestand of their own (all against Eastern opponents) this week before setting right back out on the road next week for another four-game road trip.
The Ducks, meanwhile, are right in the middle of an eight-game road trip, all against the East. This week's four games, against mostly very soft competition (outside of Boston anyway), will mostly wrap that up, with only next Monday's game in Manhattan against the Rangers left on the trip afterwards. The Coyotes have off for a few days before hosting the Kings on Tuesday and the Predators on Thursday, wrapping up their week in San Jose on Saturday.
Over in Alberta, the Flames are the only team in the division to not play at least three games this week. They have just two games, both at home and both against the East. Their rivals from Edmonton are in Los Angeles tonight, wrapping up a brutal stretch of 8-of-9 on the road. They'll finally get to play a couple consecutive home games against Toronto & Detroit afterwards, before heading right back on the road next week for another 4-game road trip (all against the East). A string of six straight Eastern Conference opponents sure sounds good when you think of the East vs. West record so far this year, but it's worth remembering that the Oilers are in fact the one exception to this rule, posting a brutal 3-5-1 record in 9 games against the East this season. They'll have to turn that around in a hurry once this game against the Kings is out of the way, because another losing record in their next six will bury them even deeper in the Pacific's basement.
Another week gone from the NHL season, and as hard as it may be to believe we'll be through a full month this time next week. I'll see you back here then, presumably after Dwight King has rattled off two or three more hat tricks on his road to the Rocket. Until then!