Hearing Flyers owner Ed Snider talk about how much he hates the Olympics probably made us all pretty sad, as this could be our last Olympic break in the NHL schedule for quite a while. Personally I love the Winter Olympics- I watch basically every event except for curling- and I can't imagine trying to keep up with a regular NHL schedule simultaneously. This doesn't even take into account how much fun the Olympic hockey tournament is, of course. And most of all, I think after four straight months of living and dying with an NHL team that has had its fair share of (often nearly inexplicable) struggles, a 3-week long break is very much appreciated. By the time we're two weeks in I'll be jonesing to see the Kings hit some more goal posts, but as I type this today, it feels almost liberating to not have any games on the schedule to tear my hair out over for now. So with all that said, let's wrap up the Kings' pre-Olympic break schedule as well as the rest of the Pacific.
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, February 3rd
-Edmonton Oilers 3, Buffalo Sabres 2: Bless your little heart if you actually watched this game, because I sure didn't. Somehow the Oilers actually got outshot 44-to-28 by the Buffalo friggin' Sabres, but lucky Ilya Bryzgalov was ready for their usual defensive ineptitude with a sparkling 42-save performance. And don't worry, Team USA fans, it wasn't Ryan Miller who allowed 3 goals on 28 shots, it was actually Jhonas Enroth.
-Detroit Red Wings 2, Vancouver Canucks 0: This was John Tortorella's return behind Vancouver's bench following his 6-game, 15-day suspension for charging towards Calgary's dressing room like an idiot, but it didn't help his team very much. The Red Wings outshot the Canucks 30-24 as the Canucks looked almost shockingly listless given the returns of both Torts and captain Henrik Sedin (who ultimately went back on the shelf and will miss the Olympics, a huge blow to Team Sweden's Gold medal chances). This team, like the Kings, is almost certainly better than they've shown of late, but things are certainly not going well for them right now.
-Columbus Blue Jackets 4, Anaheim Ducks 2
-Chicago Blackhawks 5, Los Angeles Kings 3: So this game was weird. The Blackhawks had a huge advantage in scoring chances in the first period, 8-1 (though just 3-0 at evens, so they did most of their damage on the power play), but the Kings only trailed 2-1 at the end of the period thanks to a goal by someone not named Anze Kopitar (Drew Doughty! on the power play! no seriously!). Then the Kings came out against the defending champs in the second and had one of their best periods of the season, outchancing them 12-3 (10-3 at evens), and the period ended.....with the Kings down 3-2. So yes, they played an awful period in the first and then one of their best periods of the entire season in the second and ended both trailing by the exact same margin. Hockey, everybody! The 3rd period chances were pretty even compared to the first two, with Chicago having a 7-5 edge (again mostly power play, as the EV chances for the period were 5-5), but ultimately pulling away on the scoreboard and winning 5-3. This lead to me suggesting on Twitter that perhaps Jonathan Quick, the Kings' supposedly superstar goalie getting a $5.8 million dollar cap hit for the next nine seasons, needed to be a little better than 5-goals-on-30-shots, which of course I was way off on because he had no chance on all five goals man and do you even watch the games or just look at your stats go away nerd. Okay, sure. Two or three more saves virtually guaranteed the Kings a point here, but you know, whatever, I'm sure all five goals were totally the fault of the Kings' defense and the impossible love child of Patrick Roy and Ken Dryden would have let all of them in too. Anyway, this game was at least not as much of a slog to watch as most of the Kings' other recent losses have been, because: A) at least we lost to a really, really good team, B) there were some goals scored and thus Staples got to make some noise- seeing the Kings actually score 2 goals and tie the game had them cheering like we just won the damn Cup again- instead of just sitting there in silence while opposition fans took over our building, and C) I dunno, this game just felt like a lot more fun, I don't really have another good reason. (recap) (gamethread)
-Philadelphia Flyers 5, San Jose Sharks 2: So the Sharks entered the 3rd period of this game with a 2-1 lead over the Flyers. 3:56 into that period, they would be down 4-2. Yep. Somehow the Flyers scored three goals within a span of 2:46, beginning with Matt Read's tying tally at 1:11, then Michael Raffl making it 3-2 at 2:29, and finally Claude Giroux giving them their first lead since seven minutes into the 1st at 3:56. Probably not the start to the period the Sharks were looking for.
Tuesday, February 4th
-Boston Bruins 3, Vancouver Canucks 1: Keeping to the theme of Vancouver sadness that we've had going in this column lately, the Canucks returned to the place they went 0-3 in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and ultimately went down pretty quietly to the Bruins, 3-1. The Canucks were outshot 32-29 despite trailing for the vast majority of the game, often by 2 goals.
-Montreal Canadiens 2, Calgary Flames 0
-Dallas Stars 3, Phoenix Coyotes 1
Wednesday, February 5th
-Chicago Blackhawks 2, Anaheim Ducks 0: Ah yes, the sweet smell of regression in the air for the Ducks. Too bad the Kings are way too far out of it for it to mean anything for them at this point, but it's still comforting to see.
-San Jose Sharks 2, Dallas Stars 1 (OT)
Thursday, February 6th
-Calgary Flames 4, New York Islanders 2
-Edmonton Oilers 2, New York Rangers 1: The Rangers were riding a season-high 4-game win streak entering this game, but they ran into a little problem named Ben Scrivens. Scrivens, if you'll recall, shutout the Blueshirts at the Garden when he was still an LA King, and he was nearly as good in his return to MSG as an Oiler, stopping 35-of-36 shots. That performance opened the door for a stunning goal from Nail Yakupov with just 1:38 left in the 3rd period, giving the Oilers a last-minute victory.
-Montreal Canadiens 5, Vancouver Canucks 2
-Los Angeles Kings 2, Columbus Blue Jackets 1: As virtually everyone has pointed out already, a Robyn Regehr overtime game-winner was the perfect way for the Kings to both end their pre-Olympic break schedule and break out of their recent losing streak, and indeed that's exactly what happened. Early on the Kings looked like they were already on the plane to either Sochi or a tropical island, depending on who we're talking about, as the Jackets were all over the Kings and had a ton of time in their offensive zone. However, they didn't really translate that into a huge scoring chance edge, as Nick had the chances at just 5-2 Blue Jackets (4-1 at evens) at the end of the first. What the Jackets did have though was the lead, as Jack Johnson of course scored just 1:40 into the game on an early power play ("an ex-King who sucks scores on an absurdly early power play?! I am shocked!" said absolutely no one). The Kings came out and played much better in the 2nd, beating the Jackets 4-0 in even-strength scoring chances (7-4 overall), but still ended it trailing 1-0. Thankfully Jake Muzzin would finally beat Bobrovsky just 3:09 into the 3rd to level the score, setting up Regehr's improbable second goal of the season (both against 'lumbus!) as the winner 2:33 into overtime. Final chances were 13-10 LA (8-5 at evens), but who cares, the most important thing is the Kings finally won another game and actually got to go into the Olympic break on a bit of a high note. Hurray! (recap) (gamethread)
Friday, February 7th
-New Jersey Devils 2, Edmonton Oilers 1 (OT)
-Phoenix Coyotes 2, Chicago Blackhawks 0
-San Jose Sharks 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 2
Saturday, February 8th
-Philadelphia Flyers 2, Calgary Flames 1
-Toronto Maple Leafs 3, Vancouver Canucks 1: There was perhaps no better way for these Canucks to wrap-up their pre-Olympic schedule than with a loss to everyone's favorite fake good team. At least Vancouver actually outshot their opponents for the first time this week (33-24), but could only get one goal past Jonathan Bernier, while probable Canadian Olympic starter Roberto Luongo was quite bad at the opposite end. Luckily he'll be playing behind the best blueline in the Olympics by a pretty wide margin instead of the injury-riddled Canucks defense corps, so that's nice at least.
-Anaheim Ducks 5, Nashville Predators 2
-Dallas Stars 2, Phoenix Coyotes 1: Spoiler alert for the standings, but this win allowed the Stars to pass the Coyotes for the 2nd Wild Card spot just a day after the Yotes passed the Canucks. Wild Card indeed! Okay, I'll show myself out now.
This Week in Standings
|2. San Jose||59||37||16||6||80||28||175||142||+33||22-4-3||15-12-3||2-1-0|
|3. Los Angeles||59||31||22||6||68||25||139||128||+11||17-10-3||14-12-3||1-1-0|
For the first time in over a month there was movement in the Pacific Division standings, though it didn't happen at the top. Anaheim put up their second straight 1-2-0 week while San Jose went 2-1-0 and have now closed to within a 7-point gap of the Ducks. The Sharks have a game in hand on them and in more good news, have a way easier schedule than the Ducks following the Olympic break (I just made history by linking to an article on Battle of California for serious statistical purposes for probably the first time ever). The Kings, who went 1-1-0 to finish up their own schedule, have an even easier schedule than the Sharks (the easiest in the entire Western Conference, in fact, when looking at the score-adjusted Fenwick % of opponents), but are probably too far out at this point to catch SJ or ANA. It does bode well for their chances of hanging onto that third spot in the Pacific though, and god knows I'd rather play the Ducks in the first round then the Sharks, so (god help me) go San Jose, I guess?
Below the top three came the big movement in the Pacific, as the Coyotes' dismal 1-2-0 week was enough to finally pass Vancouver for the fourth spot, as the Nucks went 0-4-0. However, as I already revealed earlier, both teams were passed by Dallas in the Wild Card standings, so for the first time all season the Pacific only has 3 teams in the playoffs right now. Let's take a look at those Wild Card standings- top 2 get in, the rest are forced to sit at home and watch curling.
|1. Minnesota (C)||59||31||21||7||69||25||145||147||-2||21-7-2||10-14-5||2-0-0|
|2. Dallas (C)||58||27||21||10||64||24||164||164||E||14-9-6||13-12-4||2-0-1|
|3. Phoenix (P)||58||27||21||10||64||23||163||169||-6||17-10-3||10-11-7||1-2-0|
|4. Vancouver (P)||60||27||24||9||63||24||146||160||-14||14-9-5||13-15-4||0-4-0|
|5. Winnipeg (C)||60||28||26||6||62||23||168||175||-7||14-11-4||14-15-2||1-1-1|
|6. Nashville (C)||59||25||24||10||60||24||146||180||-34||14-12-4||11-12-6||0-1-1|
|7. Calgary (P)||58||22||29||7||51||18||137||179||-42||12-14-3||10-15-4||1-2-0|
|8. Edmonton (P)||60||20||33||7||47||18||153||199||-46||10-14-2||10-19-5||2-0-1|
The Minnesota Wild remain atop the Western Wild Card standings after a perfect 2-0-0 week, continuing to put a little gap between them and the 2nd spot. The second Wild Card spot continues to be a total cluster, with a ton of teams still in it. Vancouver's 0-4-0 disaster saw them drop all the way from 2nd to fourth and thus out of the playoffs, while Dallas' 2-0-1 week allowed them to leapfrog both Phoenix AND Vancouver to finally put themselves in a playoff spot! Meanwhile, Phoenix's 1-2-0 week kept them exactly where they were last week. They had briefly occupied the 2nd Wild Card spot after their 2-0 win over Chicago on Friday saw them pass the Canucks, only to drop that hugely important game to Dallas the very next night that put them right back down into 3rd. However, they have the exact same record as the Stars, and it's only 1 more ROW for Dallas that puts them in the second Wild Card position ahead of the Yotes. The Canucks sit one point back of both of them, but of course it's worth noting that both Phoenix & Dallas have 2 games in hand on Vancouver.
Below the Canucks, the Jets & Predators flip-flopped the 5th & 6th spots for the third straight week, but both are still very much in the mix. Winnipeg sits just a point behind the Canucks and 2 points behind Dallas & Phoenix, while Nashville is only two points behind the Jets. Neither team had a great week, with Winnipeg going 1-1-1 and the Preds going 0-1-1, so with better results they could have easily tied the Stars & Coyotes as well. Below them sit the Alberta teams, out of it as always. The Oilers did have a very good 2-0-1 week to close their gap with the Flames back down to just 4 points after Calgary had opened up a sizable lead again in the Battle to Finish Not-Last.
This Week in #fancystats
(all stats are total attempts, not percentages. thanks to extra skater.)
Blackhawks 5, Kings 3
Corsi: Kings 61-Blackhawks 56 (overall), Kings 44-Blackhawks 38 (5v5, 42.2 mins), Blackhawks 24-Kings 22 (5v5 close, 25.3 mins), Kings 10-Blackhawks 6 (5v5 tied, 5.8 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 52-Blackhawks 45 (overall), Kings 38-Blackhawks 30 (5v5, 42.2 mins), Kings 19-Blackhawks 19 (5v5 close, 25.3 mins), Kings 8-Blackhawks 3 (5v5 tied, 5.8 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Brown (+11), Muzzin/Richards/Williams (tied, +9). Worst: Carter/Stoll/Mitchel (tied, -3)
Kings 2, Blue Jackets 1 (OT)
Corsi: Kings 54-Blue Jackets 50 (overall), Kings 30-Blue Jackets 30 (5v5, 40.6 mins), Kings 30-Blue Jackets 30 (5v5 close, 38.2 mins), Kings 8-Blue Jackets 8 (5v5 tied, 13.0 mins)
Fenwick: Blue Jackets 41-Kings 40 (overall), Blue Jackets 23-Kings 19 (5v5, 40.6 mins), Blue Jackets 23-Kings 19 (5v5 close, 38.2 mins), King 7-Blue Jackets 7 (5v5 tied, 13.0 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Mitchell (+13), Doughty (+6), Brown (+5). Worst: Greene (-8), Regehr (-7), Muzzin (-6)
Next Week in the
(oh hold on a second I'll explain it)
So usually this would be the part where I go over the schedule next week for all 7 Pacific Division teams, but that would just be a blank table. In its place, let's recap all six of the Kings' Olympians, and then we'll provide the schedule for all of their games so you know when and where you can watch them play. Sound good? Good. Once again, all game times will be listed in Pacific time, and the networks listed are obviously only for the US & Canada. I have bolded games that will feature hot-King-on-King action.
USA: Dustin Brown, Jonathan Quick
Canada: Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty
Russia: Slava Voynov
Slovenia: Anze Kopitar
Even though the tournament gets underway on Wednesday, February 12th, none of the four teams with LA Kings players will begin their tournaments until Thursday, when all four get going. Thursday gives us Slava and the Russians vs. Anze and Slovenia, along with the US opening things up against Slovakia and Canada getting Norway (who only has 1 NHL player, NYR's Corsi hero Mats Zuccarelo). Three of the four teams are off on Friday, while Canada takes on Thomas Vanek and the Austrians. Saturday sees a much-anticipated US-Russia showdown, while Team Kopitar takes on Slovakia. Finally, all four teams are back in action on Sunday as Slovenia can hopefully upset the Americans while Russia faces Slovakia and Canada gets its first real quality opponent of the tournament in the form of Finland.
(On a random little note, for some reason the NHL.com schedule doesn't list Canadian TV networks for any of the Sunday games except for the Canada-Finland game, but I assume they're still all going to be airing and they just haven't assigned networks yet, for whatever reason.)
So that's what you have to look forward to if you're looking to keep track of all the Kings in this year's men's hockey tournament at the Olympics. As you've probably already noticed, we here at Jewels are all solidly behind Slovenia as at least a second-favorite (I'm thankful Canada and Slovenia don't have to play each other at all in the preliminary round, yay!). Check back next week when I'll recap the week that was for all the Kings in the Olympics! Until then, enjoy the break.