Boy, the Kings are really devoted to that whole "sucking against inferior teams" meme huh? Sigh.
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.)
-There wasn't any really big news out of LA this week, probably because there was some holiday (the Winter Solstice or something I think), so here's a bunch of small ones. First of all, Willie Mitchell & Jonathan Quick both returned to practice, joining the Kings on their latest road trip. Mitchell has been out since the December 14th game against Ottawa, although there were some reports that he was actually ready to go for the Dallas game (if not even earlier) and just couldn't get back in the lineup. He did finally return to the lineup on Saturday night in Nashville, when the Kings dressed seven defensemen. Meanwhile, I don't even have to tell you how long that Quick guy has been out, do I? Reports are that Quick could be back as soon as the first week of January, so rejoice/scream in terror, whichever! Speaking of Quick, he's apparently going to be one of the US Olympic team goalies, per a report in the Detroit Free Press. Because of course, who could pass up a dude with a bad groin and a .905 sv% who hasn't played since early November? Ben Bishop (and his .935) is trying to hire his own Shane Stant (Google it young'ins) to take out Quick's groin again as we speak.
-Dustin Brown was apparently more sick than he's ever been in his entire life, which is terrible because it's always so depressing when bad things happen to good, innocent people, am I right?
-Oh, and for some reason KISS is playing the LA-ANA Stadium Series game. Great news if you're a KISS fan, bad news for the other 99% of us that don't enjoy really terrible music from deplorable human beings. But hey, at least those Ducks Stadium Series jerseys won't be the ugliest things at Dodgers Stadium now, I guess.
-In San Jose, the biggest story was probably confirmation that the original one month timeframe for Tomas Hertl's knee injury was too optimistic. The Czech national team confirmed Hertl won't play in the Olympics, and that means he'll be out for at least two months (and likely even longer). As far as that whole Doug Wilson apologygate thing goes, that's just so incredibly stupid I'm not even going to waste my time talking about it.
-Nothing of note happened in Anaheim, apparently, other than their stupid win streak finally getting snapped (but we'll get into that later). I guess that KISS thing is your news too, Ducks fans. Enjoy!
-The latest update on Roberto Luongo's groin injury (that he suffered just before the Christmas break) is that he's only expected to be out for 7-10 days. And considering that was written 3 days ago, I guess it's more like 4-7 days now (wooo math! oh crap no one tell any of the MSM hockey guys I just said that). In other injury news for the Nucks, their star prospect Hunter Shinkaruk is going to undergo hip surgery in early Janaury and miss the rest of the WHL season. He was picked 24th overall in the first round of this past June's NHL entry draft, and had been trying to tough it out to play for Team Canada in the World Juniors (which are underway, go Canada go!), but finally let go of the ghost and agreed to go under the knife.
-Oh hey, while we're talking about the World Juniors, how about a progress report of one of the Kings' picks playing in that tournament, 2013 fourth-rounder Hudson Fasching? He scored the first goal of the US' 8-0 rout of Germany, which sounds impressive until you realize it's just Germany.
-The only news of note involving the Coyotes this week was a minor roster move on Sunday morning, as the Yotes sent forwards Gilbert Brule & Jordan Szwarz down to the AHL, probably to make room for Shane Doan to come back from his illness. Brule is also known as the man of a million chances, but this chance didn't last long, as apparently going pointless in three games meant he was done (imagine if Trevor Lewis was held to that kind of standard).
-Apparently nothing of note happened in Calgary, so here's a fluffy piece on how happy the goalie coach is with Berra & Ramo's "progress". Sure, okay, if you say so buddy.
-I don't know who Mitch Moroz is, but apparently the Oilers signed him to a three-year entry-level deal. SEASON SAVED.
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 23rd
-Anaheim Ducks 3, Washington Capitals 2: Even falling behind 2-0 early on the road wasn't enough to stop Anaheim's win streak, as they rallied back behind goals from Andrew Cogliano & Saku Koivu to tie it, and then won the game late in regulation (just over five minutes to play, in fact) thanks to rookie Hampus Lindholm. This was the Ducks' ninth straight win, and their second straight game coming back from at least two goals down (granted, the other one was against the Islanders and like literally everyone on the planet does that to the Islanders this season, so it only kinda counts).
-Calgary Flames 4, St. Louis Blues 3 (SO): YES ANOTHER GOOD TEAM LOST TO EFFIN' CALGARY! Boo they actually got a point though.
-Edmonton Oilers 6, Winnipeg Jets 2: I guess the Oilers sure responded to their head coach calling out a fan, huh? #narratives
-Dallas Stars 5, Los Angeles Kings 2: The Kings did what they usually seem to do against the Dallas Stars of late: play reasonably well and still find a way to lose. Martin Jones finally showed the world that he indeed can be beaten, and to be quite honest he would probably like to have at least a couple of those goals against back. The Kings out-attempted the Stars by a wide margin, somewhat due to score effects (though they were ahead in 5v5 close too), but ultimately couldn't beat Kari Lehtonen (who was great, stopping 30 of 32 shots) enough to make up for Jones' letdown game and some defensive breakdowns. And holy crap, that top line of Dallas (Benn/Seguin/Nichuskin) is just terrifying. They're already really good now, and they're just going to keep getting better. Best of luck with that, Conference III. (recap) (gamethread)
-San Jose Sharks 5, Colorado Avalanche 4 (SO): This game was kinda nuts, guys. The Sharks were leading 3-2 late in the 3rd, which is probably to be expected (THREE-TWO LEAGUE), but suddenly everything was happening! First the Avalanche tied it on Erik Johnson's sixth (which isn't bad for a supposed first overall bust of a defenseman, huh?) with just 1:51 to play. Then they took the lead 12 seconds later off a Jamie McGinn goal! But then the Sharks tied it back up at 4 with just 20 seconds left thanks to Joe Pavelski's fifteenth (HOLY CRAP HE HAS FIFTEEN ALREADY???) of the year, and the Sharks ultimately prevailed in this crazy, crazy game in a shootout.
Tuesday, December 24th-Thursday, December 26th
Absolutely nothing, as the NHL was on its Christmas break.
Friday, December 27th
-Edmonton Oilers 2, Calgary Flames 0
-San Jose Sharks 4, Phoenix Coyotes 3 (SO): JESUS CAN NONE OF THESE TEAMS EVER JUST PLAY A TWO-POINT GAME AGAINST EACH OTHER
Saturday, December 28th
-Nashville Predators 3, Los Angeles Kings 2: Oh yeah I really wanted to talk about this one again. Okay, first of all, this was The Seven Defensemen Experiment, as Darryl Sutter decided to inject Willie Mitchell back into the lineup (which proved to be a good move, as he was pretty effective) without taking any of his six defensemen out. This also allowed him to double-shift Anze Kopitar & Jeff Carter with Jordan Nolan & Kyle Clifford on different shifts as the makeshift 4th line, which really didn't help them very much anyway, but was a nice idea in theory I guess. Anyway, so you'll never guess what happened: the Kings played very well for most of it and lost anyway in the final minute. I know, shocking. Even more infuriatingly, the Kings actually tied the game with 36 seconds left, only to give 'dem Perds the lead right back ten seconds later. The goal actually had to be reviewed, and if you follow my Twitter you'll know I was pretty furious with them upholding it, as FSWest never showed an angle where the puck actually appeared to be all the way in. However, the NHL did release a photo later that night (presumably off the Preds' feed) proving the puck did in fact completely cross the goal line, so my anger can be directed at starter Ben Scrivens instead, I guess. Neither the second nor the 3rd Nashville goals were very good at all, and an argument can be made he overplayed and took himself out of position on the first one, too. I guess the Replacement Goalie Honeymoon is officially over. (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)
-Anaheim Ducks 3, Phoenix Coyotes 2 (OT): NOPE NEVER ALL 3-POINT ALL THE TIME
-Philadelphia Flyers 4, Edmonton Oilers 3 (SO): Ilya Bryzgalov certainly tried his best to beat his former team, stopping 35 of 38 shots, but ultimately he and his Oilers fell to the Flyers in a shootout. Bryz's frustration with his young and, uh, crap team came through at times, most notably when he threw his stick in the air following a 5-on-3 Flyers goal. You almost feel sorry for him until you remember he's making $23 million dollars to not play goal for Philly.
Sunday, December 29th
-Vancouver Canucks 2, Calgary Flames 0
-San Jose Sharks 3, Anaheim Ducks 1: HOLY CRAP FINALLY! Two of the good teams in the Pacific played each other and it was NOT a 3-point game! I don't think I've ever said this sincerely in my life, but seriously, THANK YOU SHARKS. This also snapped Anaheim's ten-game winning streak, which is cool because screw those guys.
This Week in Standings
|2. San Jose||39||25||8||6||56||19||128||98||+30||14-1-3||11-7-3||3-0-0|
|3. Los Angeles||39||25||10||4||54||19||108||79||+29||13-5-2||12-5-2||0-2-0|
The Ducks stay on top with yet another good 2-1-0 week. The only movement in the standings came at the expense of our beloved Kings, as their 0-2-0 crapfest of a holiday combined with the Sharks' perfect 3-0-0 week meant the two teams flipped, with San Jose taking over second place. The Sharks are now just 5 points behind the Ducks with 2 games in hand on them, and they have another chance to narrow that deficit even further when they play the back half of their home-and-home in Anaheim on Tuesday. The Kings, meanwhile, must now start looking in their rear as well, as the Canucks have narrowed the deficit to 3rd to just 2 points (though LA does still have a game in hand). They played only one game this week but won it, and with LA in the middle of a pretty tough road trip (and having blown probably the easiest game of the trip already), could easily catch them soon.
Behind Vancouver, Phoenix had a wacky 0-0-3 week, which did give them some points but obviously didn't help them out at all in that ROW column (they have just four more than the Oilers & Flames now!). However, those three points were enough for the Coyotes to finally return to a playoff spot, as they passed the Wild to take the 2nd Wild Card spot, meaning both of those spots are now held by Pacific Division teams. And hey, with the new year upon us and this week's edition light on content anyway, let's go ahead and take a look at those Wild Card standings while we're at it. It could end up being very relevant to the Kings in short order, unfortunately. Remember that the top 2 Wild Card make the playoffs, while the rest are left to play golf or go to Vegas or whatever.
|1. Vancouver (P)||40||23||11||6||52||21||108||93||+15||11-5-3||12-6-3||1-0-0|
|2. Phoenix (P)||38||19||10||9||47||15||116||117||-1||10-3-3||9-7-6||0-0-3|
|3. Dallas (C)||38||19||12||7||45||16||112||111||+1||8-4-5||11-8-2||2-0-1|
|4. Minnesota (C)||41||20||16||5||45||15||96||107||-11||14-4-2||6-12-3||0-3-0|
|5. Winnipeg (C)||41||18||18||5||41||13||111||121||-10||9-8-4||9-10-1||2-1-0|
|6. Nashville (C)||39||17||18||4||38||17||89||115||-26||9-8-3||8-10-1||1-2-0|
|7. Calgary (P)||39||14||19||6||34||11||95||122||-27||7-9-3||7-10-3||1-2-0|
|8. Edmonton (P)||41||13||24||4||30||11||106||139||-33||6-11-2||7-13-2||2-0-1|
So there you have it. The Coyotes are now occupying the second Wild Card spot, but Dallas & Minnesota are still just two points behind. The Jets aren't quite out of it yet (six points back) but the Yotes & Stars both have three games in hand on them (and on the Wild as well). We'll see if any of the other bottom-feeders can close the gap moving forward, but I would somehow doubt it.
Speaking of bottom feeders, the Flames had their usual dismal 1-2-0 week, while the Oilers had their best week in eons, going 2-0-1. Of course, those two wins were against.....wait for it....the Jets and the Flames, but baby steps I guess.
This Week in #fancystats
(all stats are total attempts, not percentages. thanks to extra skater. here's a wacky little note: the 5v5 tied column appears to be gone from their page now, for some reason? so if you're wondering why that's suddenly not included, don't look at me.)
Stars 5, Kings 2
Corsi: Kings 68-Stars 46 (overall), Kings 55-Stars 34 (5v5, 49.6 mins), Kings 36-Stars 26 (5v5 close, 32.3 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 56-Stars 35 (overall), Kings 43-Stars 25 (5v5, 49.6 mins), Kings 30-Stars 20 (5v5 close, 32.3 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Muzzin (+14), Doughty (+13), Lewis (+11). Worst: Regehr (-4), Kopitar/King/Carter (tied, -2)
Predators 3, Kings 2
Corsi: Kings 60-Predators 51 (overall), Kings 51-Predators 33 (5v5, 47.8 mins), Kings 46-Predators 32 (5v5 close, 45.6 mins)
Fenwick: Predators 42-Kings 41 (overall), Kings 34-Predators 27 (5v5, 47.8 mins), Kings 30-Predators 26 (5v5 close, 45.6 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: King (+16), Kopitar (+14), Carter (+12). Worst: Nolan/Clifford (tied, -5), Brown (-2)
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||@CHI (5:00)||@DAL (5:00)||-||@STL (5:00)||-||vs.VAN (7:00)||-|
|ANA||-||vs.SJ (5:00)||-||-||vs.EDM (7:00)||-||vs.VAN (5:00)|
|SJ||-||@ANA (5:00)||-||vs.EDM (7:30)||-||@COL (12:00)||@CHI (5:00)|
|VAN||vs.PHI (7:00)||-||vs.TB (7:00)||-||-||@LA (7:00)||@ANA (5:00)|
|PHX||-||vs.EDM (6:00)||-||vs.CBJ (6:00)||-||vs.PHI (5:00)||-|
|CGY||-||vs.PHI (6:00)||-||-||vs.TB (6:00)||-||-|
|EDM||-||@PHX (6:00)||-||@SJ (7:30)||@ANA (7:00)||-||vs.TB (5:00)|
So the Kings finish up their 4-game road trip with a lovely stretch of 3 games in 4 nights, as they'll travel to Chicago tonight, Dallas tomorrow, and then wrap things up in St. Louis on Thursday. Lovely. They're rewarded with a single day off to travel back to Los Angeles, where the Vancouver Canucks will already be waiting for them in a Hockey Night in Canada late game showdown. The last time these two teams met in LA on HNIC things worked out pretty well for the Kings, so here's hoping for more of the same there at least. Still, a 2-2-0 week would be a small victory, and anything above that would be simply fabulous.
The Ducks will play the back half of that home-and-home against the Sharks tomorrow , which starts a 4-game homestand for them. They'll play host to the Oilers & Canucks as well before wrapping it up against the Bruins next Tuesday. Meanwhile the Sharks will head back home from Anaheim to also host the Oilers, before starting a 3-game road trip with a weekend back-to-back in Colorado & Chicago.
Vancouver has two Eastern teams in Rogers with the Flyers tonight and the Lightning on Wednesday. Yes, the Canucks vs. the Lightning is the only other game on New Year's Day, other than that Winter Classic thing. This game inspired maybe the greatest text of all time from my girlfriend (who you should totally follow on Twitter she's great!): "the lack of fucks given about that game could form a black hole." Indeed. The Canucks then wrap up their week with a back-to-back against the Kings & Ducks.
The Coyotes are starting a 6-game homestand with games against the Oilers, Blue Jackets, and Flyers, which is certainly not the hardest schedule I've ever seen (though the Flyers have at least been better of late, but they're still an Eastern Conference team not named the Bruins or Penguins so y'know, they ain't that good). The Flames are already in the middle of their own 5-game homestand that finishes up with games against the Flyers & Lightning. Finally, the Oilers have a four-game schedule, traveling to Phoenix, San Jose, and Anaheim before wrapping up their week with a Sunday home date with the Lightning.
And that, folks, is a wrap on the last TWIK for 2013. Hope you enjoy your New Year's, which as a mostly secular quasi-holiday that involves lots of drinking & partying is probably my personal favorite holiday. See you back here in 2014!