Some weeks I'm concerned that I won't have enough to talk about, because nothing of note really happened. This week was, uh, not one of those weeks. So let's get right into it.
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.)
-So Jonathan Quick, if you even remember who that is, is still on the road back to recovery. He took practice shots from Willie Mitchell (who is apparently cleared to play himself but can't get back in the lineup right now), Matt Frattin, and Dan Carcillo yesterday morning. Luckily for the Kings, there still appears to be no timetable for his return.
-Meanwhile, all Martin Jones did this week was tie an all-time NHL record for consecutive wins to start an NHL career. Darryl Sutter's reaction to this accomplishment was basically "Yeah, whatever, so what?" and I am not at all exaggerating, that was seriously his reaction. I know the Kings are really good defensively and blah blah, but jesus, the dude has a .966 sv% and just tied an all-time league record, I think you can give him more than "I don't wanna talk about him.", no? At least maybe a "Yeah, that's pretty cool, it's a good start to his career." or SOMETHING?
-Okay, so now let's talk about the REAL news of the week, and it came out of San Jose. Tomas Hertl was involved in a knee-on-knee collision with Dustin Brown in Thursday's Kings-Sharks game (click here for the gif), and indeed that injury is pretty serious, as Hertl will be out "at least a month", and there's already indications the injury could actually shelve him for much longer. Now, if you're just seeing that incident for the first time, I'm guessing your first thought was probably something like "wow, that's not really what I expected to see when I heard 'knee-on-knee collision' and 'Dustin Brown' in the same sentence". Certainly it's a far cry from when he lost his mind against Jaden Schwartz of the Blues last year, no? Dustin Brown's explanation of the collision sounded perfectly reasonable, and most people seemed to agree that the hit was likely more accidental than intentional on Brown's part, and the game misconduct he got for it was unwarranted (even, it should be noted, San Jose's own color commentator). Most people, of course, did not include most San Jose Sharks fans, and me being the kind of idiot to do something like this, I took issue with the idea of calling the hit intentional just because it involved Brown. The response I got was, uh, varied: some were mad, some were really mad, and some decided to call Dustin Brown my girlfriend and said I was performing fellatio on him as I typed (which seems like it would be pretty hard!). As Sharks fans took turns wishing for Brown to get a stick swung at his face, concussed by Raffi Torres, and even killed (in fairness I think that guy was kidding, making him like the third Sharks fan in recorded history to have a sense of humor), the news came down on Dustin Brown's suspension. To the shock of everyone in San Jose and no one anywhere else, Brown was suspended for exactly zero games, and fined exactly zero dollars. That news had to Hertl, huh San Jose?
-So those jerks in Anaheim set a franchise record this week with their eighth straight win. Jerks. Oh, and in kind of an amusing note, that win also tied them with another team for the longest points streak in the NHL this season. That other team? Why, the LA Kings, of course. I'm sure the type of person (usually Canadian, let's be real) who's all "WHY DOES SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HAVE TWO HOCKEY TEAMS???" *loves* hearing that news. Or at least they would if they ever actually heard it, which they probably won't, because the Kings and Ducks could win every game for the rest of the season and still not get any coverage from any national hockey media on the planet.
-In Vancouver, undoubtedly their biggest news of the week came at the end of it, as Roberto Luongo was forced to leave last night's game with Winnipeg with what's being called a lower-body injury. Coach John Tortorella said after the game he was day-to-day. BUT WHAT ABOUT HIS TWITTER ACCOUNT???
-The latest update on Shane Doan's mystery illness is that it's something called "Rocky Mountain fever", which let's be real sounds like an awesomely bad musical. Apparently it is neither life- nor career-threatening, which is great news, but there's still no timetable for his return. Meanwhile, Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michaelk will also be out for at least a few weeks after he re-aggravated a hip injury from earlier this season.
-Meanwhile, the Calgary Flames suffered yet more injuries to their already depleted (not to mention crappy) lineup, as both forward Curtis Glencross and defenseman Kris Russell left their Saturday afternoon game with the Pittsburgh Penguins, apparently both with knee injuries. No truth to the rumors that Dustin Brown was traded to the Penguins on Saturday morning and then immediately traded back to the Kings, I don't think.
-And finally, in this week's edition of "how dumb are the Oilers?", they traded away Linus Omark for a conditional sixth-round pick. Linus has been a point-per-game player for the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL this season, lead the Swiss-A league in scoring last year, and scored 27 points in 51 NHL games in the 2010-11 NHL season (before never really getting another shot with the Oilers again, naturally; he's played all of nine minutes for them this season). In one last parting shot to a player they truly seemed to hate, Edmonton management traded him.....to the Buffalo Sabres. Yikes. Going from Edmonton to Buffalo must be kind of like going from, uh.....does Hell have any circles running concurrently?
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.)
Monday, December 16th
We discussed this already you guys: there were no Pacific games, hence why I was able to flake out and post it a day late last week. Okay then, moving on...
Tuesday, December 17th
-Boston Bruins 2, Calgary Flames 0
-Montreal Canadiens 3, Phoenix Coyotes 1: Hahahahahaha Mike Smith hahahahahahahaha
-Anaheim Ducks 5, Detroit Red Wings 2: Both the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs have had a pretty tough go of it lately, and hey wait I think those two teams have something in common. OH RIGHT. ALL YOUR FAULT, HBO.
-San Jose Sharks 4, St. Louis Blues 2
-Minnesota Wild 3, Vancouver Canucks 2 (SO)
-Los Angeles Kings 3, Edmonton Oilers 0: After the pretty much expected failure against the Blackhawks, the Kings had probably the best team possible to try and bounce back against at home, and they basically did just that. That 2nd period was a little rough, as they were outchanced 8-2 (8-1 at evens), but Martin Jones stood tall when the Kings needed him to. The other 40 minutes were pretty great, as the Kings outchanced them 9-2 in the 1st and then, with a 2-goal lead in the 3rd, somehow still outchanced the Oilers 4-3 at evens and held them to just five shots total. That continued a pretty consistent pattern for the Kings (namely, bucking score effects), and is a testament to their commitment to forechecking even with a lead. Of course, it's also probably a testament to the Oilers sucking, but y'know, whatever. (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)
Wednesday, December 18th
Nothing at all, actually. Though I should note that I was at Sharks practice and Tomas Hertl just skated by and.....what's with that ominous music? Uh-oh.
Thursday, December 19th
-Toronto Maple Leafs 2, Phoenix Coyotes 1 (SO): The Coyotes were frustrated by Leafs goalie James Reimer at every turn and appeared to be about to lose 1-0 before Martin Hanzal tied the game with less than five minutes to play on a pretty hilariously bad wraparound goal. But it would be a shootout goal that would ultimately give that one a run for its money in comedy. James van Riemsdyk certainly appeared to score on Mike Smith to open the shootout, but Smith did such a good job concealing the puck with his pad as he went over the line that no camera angle could show the puck actually in the net. However, it was ruled a goal anyway because referee Paul Devorski apparently claimed to have seen the puck in the net definitively, even though he never actually pointed for a goal on the ice. Poor Mike Smith, you guys. He's just trying to play good, clean, honest hockey, and something like this happens to him. :(
-Detroit Red Wings 3, Calgary Flames 2 (OT)
-Dallas Stars 4, Vancouver Canucks 1
-Colorado Avalanche 4, Edmonton Oilers 2: So it turns out the key to having a successful rebuild is hiring a batshit crazy ex-goalie as your head coach and HEY OILERS YOU HAVE ONE OF THOSE RIGHT NOW! Come on, if the Islanders can promote their backup goalie directly to GM, surely you can send Ilya Bryzgalov from sitting on the bench to standing behind it! That's, like, so much closer! Just imagine the press conferences! I WANT THIS.
-Los Angeles Kings 4, San Jose Sharks 1: I think I've written everything I can possibly write about When Dustin Met Tomas, so let's talk about the actual hockey game I guess. The biggest key to this relatively lopsided win (especially in the recent history of Kings-Sharks) was probably Martin Jones, who again vastly outplayed his counterpart on the other team (I'm sorry, Darryl). The first goal allowed by Niemi was kind of soft, as it was a long point shot from Alec Martinez that somehow found a hole. The second goal was a shot from Toffoli that Niemi probably should have had if he was on his angle, but to be fair it happened so quick (thanks to a great cross-ice pass by Slava Voynov, after he got the puck from.....wait for it.....MARTIN JONES!). The third goal I can't really blame Niemi for at all, because how the hell was he supposed to know Dwight King was actually Wayne Gretzky in disguise all this time? King followed up his amazing assist with a goal to put the Kings up 4-0, and the Sharks could only manage to keep Jones from taking sole possession of the league shutout lead before going quietly into that good night. (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)
Friday, December 20th
-Anaheim Ducks 3, New Jersey Devils 2 (OT)
-Vancouver Canucks 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2 (SO): The Canucks rallied from a 2-0 deficit to eventually beat the Blackhawks in a shootout, and I can't confirm the rumor that they initially took the Blackhawks off their game by showing them this. Woof. And people thought the crown looked bad in chrome, I mean holy crap.
Saturday, December 21st
-Pittsburgh Penguins 4, Calgary Flames 3
-Phoenix Coyotes 4, Ottawa Senators 3 (OT)
-Los Angeles Kings 3, Colorado Avalanche 2 (SO): The Kings took on the Avalanche in the Dreaded Saturday Afternoon Game™, and though they started off looking like a bunch of dudes who would rather be taking a nap, somehow they managed to keep the score tied 0-0 long enough for the top line to do their thing once again. Jeff Carter managed to get to a rebound in front off a Doughty point shot to take a probably undeserved 1-0 lead into the locker room after the 1st. The Kings would suddenly find their legs in the 2nd, as Justin Williams made it 2-0 with a pretty sweet line drive single off Varlamov's glove, and Mike Richards probably should have made it 3-0 before the post got in the way. But the Kings' penalty kill, which as Nick noted had been getting kind of lucky lately to stay as dominant as it had been, allowed a pair of power play goals to the Avalanche to tie the game. The Kings nearly won the game in the last two minutes of the 3rd anyway, but a great pad save by Colorado's asshole of a goalie kept it tied. Ultimately the game would need to go to a shootout, and Anze Kopitar's goal was all the Kings needed, as Jones stopped all three shooters to give the Kings their third straight win. (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)
-Anaheim Ducks 5, New York Islanders 3: Stop me if you've heard this one before- the Islanders were at home against a hockey team from Southern California and entered the 3rd period with a 2-goal lead, before somehow losing the game in regulation. Yep. It's honestly amazing at this point how bad the Islanders are at holding 3rd period leads: somehow they're just 4-3-3 when leading after two periods. Yeah, they're FOUR-FOR-TEN at holding 3rd period leads. And five of those blown leads were two goals. Holy crap.
-St. Louis Blues 6, Edmonton Oilers 0
-San Jose Sharks 3, Dallas Stars 2 (SO)
Sunday, December 22nd
-Vancouver Canucks 2, Winnipeg Jets 1
This Week in Standings
|2. Los Angeles||37||25||8||4||54||19||104||71||+33||13-4-2||12-4-2||3-0-0|
|3. San Jose||36||22||8||6||50||18||116||90||+26||12-1-3||10-7-3||2-1-0|
There was literally no movement in the standings this week, as everyone stayed right where they were. That starts at the top, of course, as the Anaheim Ducks & LA Kings both had perfect 3-0-0 weeks. That means that the Kings remain exactly where they were last week: three points back of the Ducks, but with a game in hand on them. They did finally open up the tiniest little gap on the Sharks, who had a good 2-1-0 week of their own but now find themselves four points behind the Kings for 2nd (though still with a game in hand on them as well). In fourth, the Vancouver Canucks dropped off a little bit from their recent run of perfect weeks, but still went 2-1-1, more than respectable. That was enough to tie the Sharks for third, but the Sharks do still have three games in hand on the Nucks.
Down below the playoff line, the Phoenix Coyotes had a very middling 1-1-1 week. They've now fallen six points back of the Canucks for fourth, but did actually gain a single point on the Minnesota Wild for the second Wild Card spot, as they are now only one point back of the Wild with three games in hand. The Calgary Flames had a pretty bad 0-2-1 week, bringing an end to a run of recent success (well, for the Flames anyway). But they had nothing on their provincial rivals from Edmonton- they went 0-3-0, somehow scoring just two goals in those three games in the process (while allowing THIRTEEN). Yep.
This Week in #fancystats
(all stats are total attempts, not percentages. thanks to extra skater)
Kings 3, Oilers 0
Corsi: Kings 71-Oilers 52 (overall), Kings 63-Oilers 42 (5v5, 51.5 mins), Kings 41-Oilers 33 (5v5 close, 34.0 mins), Kings 19-Oilers 9 (5v5 tied, 14.6 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 64-Oilers 36 (overall), Kings 57-Oilers 31 (5v5, 51.5 mins), Kings 37-Oilers 26 (5v5 close, 34.0 mins), Kings 11-Oilers 5 (5v5 tied, 14.6 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Toffoli (+15), Doughty (+14), Muzzin (+13). Worst: Frattin (even), Voynov/Nolan (tied, +1)
Kings 4, Sharks 1
Corsi: Kings 59-Sharks 57 (overall), Kings 54-Sharks 34 (5v5, 46.5 mins), Kings 29-Sharks 16 (5v5 close, 21.9 mins), Kings 24-Sharks 12 (5v5 tied, 18.3 mins)
Fenwick: Sharks 48-Kings 46 (overall), Kings 42-Sharks 28 (5v5, 46.5 mins), Kings 21-Sharks 14 (5v5 close, 21.9 mins), Kings 19-Sharks 10 (5v5 tied, 18.3 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Greene (+13), Clifford/Martinez/Toffoli/King/Regehr (tied, +9). Worst: Brown (-1), Williams/Muzzin (tied, +1)
Kings 3, Avalanche 2 (SO)
Corsi: Kings 72-Avalanche 57 (overall), Kings 57-Avalanche 46 (5v5, 49.7 mins), Kings 44-Avalanche 30 (5v5 close, 37.0 mins), Kings 32-Avalanche 20 (5v5 tied, 27.0 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 59-Avalanche 43 (overall), Kings 46-Avalanche 35 (5v5, 49.7 mins), Kings 35-Avalanche 25 (5v5 close, 37.0 mins), Kings 26-Avalanche 17 (5v5 tied, 27.0 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Doughty (+12), Kopitar (+10), Williams (+8). Worst: Greene (-3), Nolan (-2), Richards/Stoll (tied, even)
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.DAL (7:30)||-||-||-||-||@NSH (5:00)||-|
|ANA||@WSH (4:00)||-||-||-||-||vs.PHX (5:00)||@SJ (7:30)|
|SJ||vs.COL (7:30)||-||-||-||@PHX (6:00)||-||vs.ANA (7:30)|
|PHX||@BUF (4:00)||-||-||-||vs.SJ (6:00)||@ANA (5:00)||-|
|CGY||vs.STL (5:00)||-||-||-||vs.EDM (6:00)||-||vs.VAN (4:30)|
|EDM||vs.WPG (6:30)||-||-||-||@CGY (6:00)||vs.PHI (7:00)||-|
This week's schedule is going to look a little weird thanks to that three-day Christmas break, as not only will no Pacific Division teams play from 12/24-12/26, but no NHL teams will either. As a result, 28 of the 30 NHL teams will play tonight, with only Vancouver & Montreal being left out of the fun, for whatever reason.
Los Angeles will try to finish a 4-game homestand completely perfect, but they've got the Dallas Stars, who always seem to play the Kings tough (especially at Staples), standing in their way. After a Christmas break-plus-one, the Kings will start a 4-game road trip, all against the Central Division, in Nashville on Saturday night. And that's it for the Kings in a pretty quiet week.
Meanwhile the Ducks are wrapping up a 4-game Eastern Conference road trip in Washington tonight, also looking to make it a perfect one. After the Christmas break they'll host Phoenix on Saturday before heading up to San Jose on Sunday for the first half of a home-and-home series (that wraps up on New Year's Eve back in Anaheim). PLEASE JUST NO THREE-POINT GAMES, THAT'S ALL I ASK. (You just know they both will be 3-pointers, because UGH.) Before beginning that aforementioned home-and-home, the Sharks host the Avalanche tonight and then travel to Phoenix on Friday.
I don't know what those jerks did to deserve this, but somehow the Vancouver Canucks got a whole week off! They played last night, as mentioned don't play tonight, and then somehow their Christmas break extends all the way until Sunday! And when they do finally have to play a game again, it's against the Calgary Flames! That's not fair!
The Phoenix Coyotes will finish their own Eastern road trip tonight in Buffalo, then get the Sharks and Ducks in a tough back-to-back after the Christmas break. The Flames have St. Louis tonight, Edmonton on Friday in the latest edition of the Alberta Toilet Bowl, and then finish off their week against the Canucks on Sunday. Finally, the Oilers have Winnipeg, Calgary, and Philadelphia this week, not exactly murder's row, so maybe they can even score a goal a game this time, who knows?
That's all for another week in the Pacific. Whether you celebrate any holiday at all, I hope you have a great week! See you back here next time!