It was an interesting week in the Pacific, as all but Anaheim played at least 3 games, with the Kings, Coyotes, and Oilers each playing four. That means we've got a lot to get to in our weekly recap, so without further ado...
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 really wasn't much news out of the Kings this week, as they were a bit busy playing four games in seven nights (and thankfully there weren't any injuries). So how about we call this a prospect roundup instead? Gann Matsuda over at Frozen Royalty published some interesting articles on the baby Kings down in Manchester this week, starting with this piece on Nicolas Deslauries' shift from defenseman to left wing this season. Of course, LW has been a weak spot for the Kings for what seems like an eternity, so if Deslauries can pull off the shift up to forward, it would be a huge plus for the team's prospect depth (especially considering they're relatively well-stocked on D already).
-Meanwhile, here's another Matsuda article on Linden Vey that should make you feel optimistic about his chances of cracking the Kings lineup within the next few seasons. And we'll wrap up the Matsuda tour of Manchester with this article on Vey, Toffoli, and Pearson dealing with the disappointment of not making the Kings out of camp this season. You'd have to think at least one of the three will get a call-up at some point this year, but we'll see what happens I guess.
-Over in San Jose, Dan Boyle took a bad hit from Max Lapierre in Tuesday's game with the Blues, which resulted in him leaving the ice on a stretcher. If you want to read the Sharks whine about it and roll your eyes because: A) they still employ Raffi Torres and B) their own teammate Brad Stuart just got suspended six days earlier for concussing Rick Nash of the Rangers, here you go. "A player that probably shouldn't be in the league is taking out one of the best players in the world!" whined Logan Couture, as Brad and Raffi presumably stared at their skates awkwardly. Oh, Lapierre ended up getting five games, if you care.
-Hey! Ducks news! Finally! Their prospect Stefan Noesen (acquired from Ottawa in the Bobby Ryan deal this summer) is out for the rest of the season with torn ligaments in his left knee. Not as exciting news as Getzlaf growing hair, but we'll take it I guess.
-Mike Smith scored a goal and this is apparently a really big deal. Good things DO happen to terrible people! Also, that Five for Howling article about it is really hilarious and thus highly recommended.
-The Edmonton Oilers finally won their second game yesterday afternoon in Ottawa, but look to have lost Taylor Hall in the process. Hall hit the boards awkwardly after taking a hit from Eric Gryba, and after he went to the penalty box for a stupid retaliatory slash, he came out, took a shot on net, and immediately left the game clutching his knee. He left the team (who are still in the middle of their long Eastern swing) to return to Edmonton for evaluation.
-The #Clagary #Falmes made a couple of minor roster moves, which is slightly more notable to us than usual since they're the Kings' next opponents tomorrow night. Defenseman Derek Smith and forward Blair Jones were sent down to their AHL affiliate, replaced by defenseman Chris Breen and forward Roman Horak. I know who Horak is and vaguely know who Blair Jones is (mostly because of that funny Jones/Jones swap from last week's column), but I wouldn't know either of those defensemen if I ran them over with my car.
-If anything happened of note in Vancouver this week, it sure didn't reach my eyes (or those of anyone at Nucks Misconduct, for that matter). I guess everyone in Vancouver were too busy trying to sneak onto Twitter while John Tortorella wasn't looking, I dunno.
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 13th
-Phoenix Coyotes 5, Carolina Hurricanes 3: Rob Klinkhammer scored some goals or something, which is notable because his name is in fact "Klinkhammer".
-Los Angeles Kings 3, Florida Panthers 0: Ben "The Professor" Scrivens made his Kings debut in net and promptly shut out that Florida offensive juggernaut, stopping all twenty shots he faced en route to the victory. The Kings got goals from superstars like Dan Carcillo, Jordan Nolan, and Justin Williams (thanks for ruining my joke, J-Dub) and basically just totally outplayed the Panthers all over the rink. Yes, jokes aside the Panthers do suck, but there's no denying the Kings got the job done in this one. Not much to say about it except "they were really good". (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)
-Anaheim Ducks 4, Ottawa Senators 1: The Ducks put up 47 shots against the Senators as they strolled to a relatively easy victory. Folks, it's time to admit that the Ducks might actually be a real good team this year (unlike last year, when their PDO was off the charts and they cratered back to earth in the latter half of the regular season before bowing out to the Wings in the 1st round of the playoffs). They're currently sitting at 56.7% in Fenwick Close percentage and while it's still early and all, that's good enough for fifth in the NHL. It's something to worry about when you've already got the Sharks, Coyotes, and Canucks all playing very strong possession games so far this year. The Pacific could easily be five teams deep, making it even tougher to finish in the top 3.
Monday, October 14th
-Washington Capitals 4, Edmonton Oilers 2: Good thing we've all still got the Oilers to beat up on, I guess!
Tuesday October 15th
-Vancouver Canucks 3, Philadelphia Flyers 2
-Pittsburgh Penguins 3, Edmonton Oilers 2
-Tampa Bay Lightning 5, Los Angeles Kings 1: Woof. After three straight games where the Kings arguably had their best game of the season in each, they were probably due for a stinker, and boy did they deliver it in this one. It's tough to find much of anything to praise the team for in this game, and indeed in Nick's grades three of the Kings' four lines got Fs, with only the third line earning a solid B grade. The defensemen weren't much better either, with Robyn Regehr & Drew Doughty having particularly tough nights. As you would expect in a game they lost 5-1, this was easily the worst game of the season so far for the Kings. As if the Kings' terrible play wasn't enough of a kick in the balls, the Kings also had a goal stolen from them for almost no reason. Mike Richards was pushed into goaltender Ben Bishop by Lightning defenseman Sami Salo and didn't appear to even make contact until the puck was already going in from a Jeff Carter shot, but the referee inexplicably ruled incidental contact and waived the goal off. It's impossible to say if that goal (which would have made it 2-1 at the time, early in the second period) could have changed things, but as it ended up the Kings couldn't build any momentum and the Lightning never really looked back. (recap)(grades & analysis) (gamethread)
-San Jose Sharks 6, St. Louis Blues 2: This was a much-anticipated game going in because both teams were still undefeated at the time (SJ was 5-0-0, STL was 4-0-0), so of course leave it to those jerks from the bay to ruin it with a blowout. This game also had that Lapierre hit on Boyle we talked about earlier, so it was basically a blowout with a stretcher job thrown in for good measure. Fun!
-Ottawa Senators 4, Phoenix Coyotes 3 (OT)
Wednesday, October 16th
-Anaheim Ducks 3, Calgary Flames 2
Thursday, October 17th
-Vancouver Canucks 3, Buffalo Sabres 0: Ah yes, the much-anticipated Kassian-vs-Hodgson showdown! And in this game, Kassian had.....no points. Hodgson also had....no points. Yep. Our old pal Brad Richardson did score a shorthanded goal though. He has three goals to start the season so far, which is probably more than he would have scored from Los Angeles' press box, so good for him.
-New York Islanders 3, Edmonton Oilers 2: Imagine how much more lopsided that crazy West-vs-East record would look like if the Oilers weren't around to hand out free points to every Eastern Conference team they see.
-Los Angeles Kings 2, Nashville Predators 1 (SO): The Kings followed up their worst performance of the season in Tampa with another stinker to wrap up their road trip in Nashville, but thanks to some superb goaltending from Jonathan Quick (35 saves) they ended up stealing the two points anyway in yet another shootout. The penalty kill was really the only other bright spot in this one, as the Kings went 4-for-4 to continue their dominant stretch there. But the Predators really had the edge in both scoring chances (especially in the 2nd, where Nick scored it as 7-0 NSH, all at even strength) and puck possession (NSH finished ahead 49-36 in Corsi & 36-24 in Fenwick at evens), and probably should have won. Still, two points are two points and all that, and as the lackluster special guest recapper pointed out, it's not like the Preds haven't done this *exact same thing* to the Kings before, so screw 'em. (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)
-Dallas Stars 4, San Jose Sharks 3 (SO): Our old Pacific pals from Dallas did their first of two favors for us this week, finally handing the Sharks their first loss of the season in their seventh game (albeit in a shootout). Thanks guys!
Friday, October 18th
-Anaheim Ducks 3, Phoenix Coyotes 2 (SO): The Ducks rallied late to tie this game in Anaheim, with Nick Bonino scoring his third goal of the season with just 2:02 left to play in the 3rd. The Ducks outshot the Yotes 39-32, continuing their run of strong play, but the Yotes managed to at least pick up a point thanks mostly to Mike Smith, who hadn't exactly been playing great up until that point. His overall .916 sv% isn't blowing anyone away so far, but it's an improvement over his 2012-13 numbers, when he ultimately finished with just a .910 (and then got rewarded with a massive contract in the offseason anyway).
Saturday, October 19th
-Pittsburgh Penguins 4, Vancouver Canucks 3 (SO): Somehow the Canucks managed to lose this game in a shootout even after Marc-Andre Fleury allowed this goal. Yep.
-Edmonton Oilers 3, Ottawa Senators 1: Nail Yakupov went from press box duty in last week's Toronto game & the Washington game earlier in the week to the top line this week, possibly being showcased (there were hilarious Yakupov-for-Ryan Miller & Yakupov-for-James Reimer trade rumors floating around right around the same time as his benching), and it resulted in just the second victory of the season for the Oilers. Of course, even this win came as they were heavily outshot, 36-20, and they have Devan Dubnyk (whose lackluster play so far had inspired those aforementioned trade rumors) to thank for the victory.
-Phoenix Coyotes 5, Detroit Red Wings 2: We covered the Mike Smith goal already, which capped off a strong comeback by the Desert Dogs, as they trailed this one 2-0 just eight minutes into the first. Mike Riberio's second goal of the year brought his point streak up to six straight games.
-San Jose Sharks 6, Calgary Flames 3
-Los Angeles Kings 5, Dallas Stars 2: Finally, the Kings wrapped up their four-game week by returning home to Staples to play just their third home game of the season. All of us were probably a little on edge given the way their road trip ended in Tampa & Nashville, but thankfully the Kings gave us all a cathartic release with a total thrashing of their old Pacific rivals from Dallas (thanks again guys!). The top line had probably their best game of the season, with Anze Kopitar especially finishing an amazing +17 in shot attempts, +10 in scoring chances (!!!), and piled up 3 assists. If your response to this is "well he didn't score a goal yet!", please do me a favor and punch yourself in the face. Thanks! Meanwhile, the rest of the team played extremely well, Dan Ellis did perhaps the most Dan Ellis thing ever, children danced and frolicked in the streets, diseases were cured, and famine ended. It was a pretty good night, is what I'm trying to say here. (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)
This Week in Standings
|1. San Jose||8||7||0||1||15||7||39||16||+23||5-0-0||2-0-1||WON 1|
|2. Anaheim||7||6||1||0||12||5||24||16||+8||4-0-0||2-1-0||WON 6|
|3. Phoenix||9||5||2||2||12||5||27||26||+1||2-0-1||3-2-1||WON 1|
|4. Los Angeles||9||6||3||0||12||3||24||22||+2||2-1-0||4-2-0||WON 2|
|5. Vancouver||9||5||3||1||11||5||26||26||E||2-2-0||3-1-1||OTL 1|
|6. Calgary||7||3||2||2||8||3||23||26||-3||2-0-1||1-2-1||LOST 2|
|7. Edmonton||9||2||6||1||5||1||26||36||-10||1-2-0||1-4-1||WON 1|
At the end of last week's column I noted that I wanted 6 out of 8 points for the Kings in their four-game week against some very beatable competition, and while it certainly wasn't always pretty, the Kings got exactly that. Hurray! That was enough to move them up one spot from fifth to fourth, really in a three-way tie for 2nd with Anaheim & Phoenix (though as you can see their lack of ROWs is hurting them already, and that has to change going forward). Meanwhile, the Sharks stayed firmly at the top thanks to yet another successful week. Really, the fact that they're off to this insane 7-0-1 start and yet have three teams who are all within 3 points of them just says how competitive this division has been so far, easily the best division in the NHL. The Ducks continue to ride their win streak, up to six games now, to move up from third to second. The Coyotes took a step upwards from fourth to third as well, while Vancouver climbed from sixth to fifth. The big slider was Calgary, who only had two games this week and lost them both, and that was enough to send them tumbling down from second all the way to sixth (albeit it with a few games in hand on everyone in the division except Anaheim). Finally, a win on the week was not enough for the Oilers to even begin climbing out of their early hole, and they remain the division's doormats so far.
This Week in #fancystats
(all stats are total attempts, not percentages. thanks to extra skater)
Kings 3, Panthers 0
Corsi: Kings 54-Panthers 32 (overall), Kings 51-Panthers 28 (5v5, 54.0 mins), Kings 31-Panthers 18 (5v5 close, 28.9 mins), Kings 24-Panthers 16 (5v5 tied, 22.8 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 39-Panthers 27 (overall), Kings 36-Panthers 24 (5v5, 54.0 mins), Kings 24-Panthers 15 (5v5 close, 28.9 mins), Kings 17-Panthers 13 (5v5 tied, 22.8 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Mitchell (+18), Voynov (+16), Brown (+12). Worst: Stoll (-2), Frattin (even), Clifford (+1)
Lightning 5, Kings 1
Corsi: Kings 66-Lightning 46 (overall), Kings 44-Lightning 36 (5v5, 43.7 mins), Lightning 11-Kings 9 (5v5 close, 10.7 mins), Lightning 2-Kings 0 (5v5 tied, 0.3 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 49-Lightning 33 (overall), Kings 35-Lightning 27 (5v5, 43.7 mins), Lightning 10-Kings 7 (5v5 close, 10.7 mins), Lightning 2-Kings 0 (5v5 tied, 0.3 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Voynov (+10), Clifford/Martinez (tied, +6). Worst: Kopitar/Nolan (tied, -4), Greene (-3)
Kings 2, Predators 1 (SO)
Corsi: Predators 61-Kings 56 (overall), Predators 49-Kings 36 (5v5 & 5v5 close, 46.0 mins), Predators 41-Kings 27 (5v5 tied, 39.2 mins)
Fenwick: Predators 45-Kings 39 (overall), Predators 36-Kings 24 (5v5 & 5v5 close, 46.0 mins), Predators 29-Kings 17 (5v5 tied, 39.2 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Kopitar (even), Brown/Nolan (tied, -1). Worst: Frattin (-8), Voynov (-7), Martinez/Stoll (tied, -6)
Kings 5, Stars 2
Corsi: Kings 70-Stars 50 (overall), Kings 56-Stars 35 (5v5, 42.7 mins), Kings 40-Stars 21 (5v5 close, 28.8 mins), Kings 29-Stars 15 (5v5 tied, 20.6 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 52-Stars 44 (overall), Kings 39-Stars 31 (5v5, 42.7 mins), Kings 28-Stars 18 (5v5 close, 28.8 mins), Kings 20-Stars 12 (5v5 tied, 20.6 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Kopitar (+17), Williams (+14), Brown (+12). Worst: Carcillo/Lewis (tied, -1), Stoll (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.CGY (7:30)||-||-||vs.PHX (7:30)||-||-|
|SJ||-||@DET (4:30)||-||-||@BOS (4:00)||-||@MTL (4:00)|
|ANA||vs.DAL (5:00)||-||@TOR (4:00)||-||@MTL (4:30)||@OTT (4:30)||-|
|PHX||-||-||vs.CGY (7:00)||-||@LA (7:30)||vs.EDM (12:00)|
|VAN||@CBJ (3:00)||-||@NYI (4:00)||-||@NJ (4:00)||@STL (5:00)||-|
|CGY||-||@LA (7:30)||@PHX (7:00)||-||@DAL (5:30)||-||vs.WSH (7:00)|
|EDM||-||-||@MTL (4:30)||-||vs.WSH (6:30)||-||@PHX (12:00)|
After a four-game week last time around, the Kings get a soft slate of just two games, both at home. In fact, last night's win over Dallas started an eight-of-nine run of home games for LA, with only a road stop in Phoenix next week jammed between two four-game homestands. The Kings will welcome those Coyotes into Staples first on Thursday, after a home game against the Flames tomorrow night. Fun fact: these two games are the first games the Kings are playing in their own division so far this season. Calgary is cooling off a bit after their unexpectedly hot start, having lost their past two, but the Yotes are off to a blistering start of their own and are coming off a huge comeback win against the Red Wings last night.
The rest of the division are all playing at least three games this week, with the Ducks, Flames, and Canucks all playing four. Anaheim has a home date with Dallas tonight, before kicking off a season-high eight game road trip, all against Eastern Conference opponents. The Flames play divisional games in LA and Phoenix, finish up their road trip in Dallas, then start a streak of 3 straight home games against Eastern teams with the Capitals on Saturday. Vancouver finally finishes their seven-game road trip in St. Louis on Friday, with three more games against the East to get through before then. Their came against the Jackets is already underway as I write this, with the two teams tied 1-1 in the 2nd.
The division-leading Sharks begin a five-game road trip of their own this week, also against all Eastern teams. They'll face former Western rivals Detroit on Tuesday then finish the week off with trips to Boston and Montreal. This week will put both the Sharks' dominance and the West's dominance against the East to the test, as the Wings, Bruins, and Habs are all off to good starts (as you'd probably expect from them). Meanwhile, the Coyotes have a week of all divisional opponents, with their trip to LA sandwiched between home dates against both Alberta teams.
Finally, the Oilers have off until Tuesday, when they'll finish their own long road trip in Montreal. They'll finally have another home game, against Washington on Thursday, before jetting right off again for Phoenix on Saturday.
In a weird little note, Wednesday is the first night of the season so far to not feature a single Pacific Division team in action.
So another weekly review has come to a close. Let's all hope last night's game against Dallas is a sign that the Kings are ready to get back to their dominant ways at home from 2012-13, in which case they'll be in position to pick up a lot of points over the next few weeks. See you next time.