So if you follow me on Twitter (and my eternal apologies if you do), you probably know that this past week was a very tough one for me personally. The normal thing to do in response would probably be to skip a week, but as we've discussed before I have almost a compulsive desire to have every week of this season covered for posterity, so here we are. Since it's already pretty late in the day as I start writing this and I'd like to have it done before the Kings actually drop the puck against the Canucks tonight, here's what we're going to do: we'll skip the News section this week, and the mini-recaps might be a little shorter than usual. I apologize if you're one of the two people who actually reads all the way through every week, but we should be back to normal next week. And thanks again for reading this silly thing. Let's get into it.
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, January 6th
-Calgary Flames 4, Colorado Avalanche 3
Tuesday, January 7th
-Nashville Predators 3, San Jose Sharks 2
-Phoenix Coyotes 6, Calgary Flames 0
-St. Louis Blues 5, Edmonton Oilers 2
-Pittsburgh Penguins 5, Vancouver Canucks 4 (SO): So this happened. The Canucks scored two goals just seventeen seconds apart about 13 minutes into the 3rd period, breaking open a 2-2 tie. Apparently the Penguins thought that looked like fun, because they responded by scoring two quick goals of their own with their goalie pulled late in the 3rd to tie the game. First it was Kris Letang at 18:49, then it was Sidney Crosby (in his first game back in Vancouver since That Goal in 2010) sixteen seconds later, and the Penguins would go on to take this one in a shootout. Apparently the tying goals represented a weird pattern for the Canucks: while they're still good at holding onto leads they had entering the 3rd period, it was the fifth time this season (!) that the Nucks had taken a lead in the 3rd, only to surrender it back to the opposition once they had pulled their goalie for an extra attacker. Twice they were able to win in overtime or a shootout anyway, but not this time.
-Anaheim Ducks 5, Boston Bruins 2
-Minnesota Wild 2, Los Angeles Kings 1 (SO): Well, it will probably help my desire to get this week's edition done quickly that two of their three games were basically the exact same game we've all seen a million times before. Of course, this was One Of Those GamesTM, as the Kings outshot, outattempted, and outplayed their opposition all over the ice, only to be repeatedly stoned by a third-strong goaltender. The Kings finally broke a scoreless tie just fifty seconds into the third thanks to Jarret Stoll, and given the generally crappy way the Wild were playing I think pretty much everyone exhaled thinking the Kings might take this one after all. Instead, about two-and-a-half minutes later, Nino "really, the Islanders traded me for Cal freaking Clutterbuck" Niederreiter tied the game thanks to some wonderfully blown coverage from Drew Doughty, and the Wild played by far their best period of the game, only being outshot 7-6 (compared to a 30-9 deficit through the first two periods) to keep the game tied through regulation. Ultimately nothing would be solved by overtime, and the coin flip went to the Wild. Oh well, at least the Kings got a point in a game they dominated, I guess. (recap) (gamethread)
Wednesday, January 8th
Nothing to speak of.
Thursday, January 9th
-Anaheim Ducks 4, Nashville Predators 3
-St. Louis Blues 5, Calgary Flames 0
-Minnesota Wild 4, Phoenix Coyotes 1: This was a pretty huge game for both teams, since the Wild & Coyotes are battling it out for the second Wild Card spot (and the Stars, who were in that mix, have hit a massive slump recently and fell back), and the Wild were perhaps more desperate than the Yotes since Phoenix has several games in hand on them. But that desperation sure didn't show up in the shot count, as once again the Wild were heavily outshot by their opponents (40-29), however things went even better for them than it did in the LA game, as they took the game 4-1 in regulation instead. Minnesota took a huge 2 points in the standings over their direct competitor for the last playoff spot, Toronto Maple Leafs-style.
-Los Angeles Kings 4, Boston Bruins 2: Of course the Kings, who have been struggling to score for seemingly forever, would finally break through against one of the best goaltenders in the entire league (after only scoring one goal on a third-string goalie on Tuesday), because that makes sense. The Kings scored three goals on 18 shots against Tuuka Rask, including two that came 1:01 apart very early into the 2nd period, to chase the Bruins netminder. They would only be able to put one goal past backup Chad Johnson (who stopped 16 of 17), but they wouldn't even need it. The final score ended up being flattering to the Bruins, as they were never really in this one, and the Kings cruised to a refreshingly easy victory. Needless to say, that kind of thing wasn't bound to last, not for this team.... (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)
-San Jose Sharks 4, Detroit Red Wings 1
Friday, January 10th
-Edmonton Oilers 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 3 (OT): Yeah that makes sense.
-Vancouver Canucks 2, St. Louis Blues 1: I guess to practice for their trip to Staples tonight, the Canucks were woefully outplayed at home by the Blues (outshot 31-22, and the #fancystats weren't much better, with the Blues controlling 58.7% of unblocked 5v5 shot attempts), and won the game in regulation anyway. Yep.
Saturday, January 11th
-Anaheim Ducks 5, Phoenix Coyotes 3
-Pittsburgh Penguins 2, Calgary Flames 1
-Detroit Red Wings 3, Los Angeles Kings 1: Ah yes, here's the other One Of Those GamesTM. The Kings outshot the Red Wings 45-26 and controlled a ridiculous 65.4% of shot attempts (65.9% at 5v5, 66.7% of unblocked attempts at 5v5) and were stymied by a previously slumping Jimmy Howard, losing the game in regulation. Cool. Awesome. Not sick of this at all. What else is there even to say at this point? (recap) (grades & analysis)(gamethread)
-Boston Bruins 1, San Jose Sharks 0: Who says Kings and Sharks fans have nothing in common?
Sunday, January 12th
-Chicago Blackhawks 5, Edmonton Oilers 3
-Anaheim Ducks 1, Detroit Red Wings 0
This Week in Standings
|2. San Jose||46||28||12||6||62||21||148||116||+32||16-2-3||12-10-3||1-2-0|
|3. Los Angeles||46||27||14||5||59||21||119||96||+23||15-6-3||12-8-2||1-1-1|
For the second straight week there was absolutely no movement in the divisional standings at least. The Ducks had yet another perfect week, going 4-0-0 to extend their winning streak to seven games. They are now 13 points clear of second place San Jose, and are looking more and more like they will be uncatchable for the division title barring some kind of hilariously epic collapse (and even then probably still have a big enough cushion to hang on). Speaking of the Sharks, they had a bad 1-2-0 week, but managed to hold on to the second seed thanks to the Kings only going 1-1-1 (which was still a big improvement over last week). The Kings remain in the third divisional seed, but the Canucks remain right on their heels, just two points back, after a good 1-0-1 week. Tonight's game is obviously huge, as the Canucks can tie the Kings and would actually pass them based on the ROW tiebreaker.
Now let's take a look at your Wild Card standings (top two teams get in, everyone else does not).
|1. Vancouver (P)||46||24||13||9||57||22||123||114||+9||12-6-5||12-7-4||1-0-1|
|2. Minnesota (C)||48||25||18||5||55||19||118||119||-1||16-6-2||9-12-3||3-1-0|
|3. Phoenix (P)||44||21||14||9||51||17||133||136||-3||12-7-3||9-7-6||1-2-0|
|4. Dallas (C)||45||20||18||7||47||17||127||139||-12||9-7-5||11-11-2||0-4-0|
|5. Nashville (C)||47||19||21||7||45||19||109||141||-32||11-10-4||8-11-3||1-2-1|
|6. Winnipeg (C)||47||19||23||5||43||14||128||145||-17||10-10-4||9-13-1||0-2-0|
|7. Calgary (P)||45||15||24||6||36||12||101||144||-43||7-13-3||8-11-3||1-3-0|
|8. Edmonton (P)||48||15||28||5||35||13||126||169||-43||8-12-2||7-16-3||1-2-0|
Hey look, some teams actually moved places in these standings! The big one was obviously Minnesota passing Phoenix to retake the second Wild Card spot. The Wild had an excellent 3-1-0 week with a very depleted lineup, thanks mostly to strong goaltending (even with this year's starter, Josh Harding, still on the shelf), and that allowed them to not just pass Phoenix but end up with a 4-point cushion on them. The Coyotes do still have four games in hand on the Wild, but that means little when you're playing as poorly as the Yotes are right now (they're down 3-1 to the Jets in the 2nd period as I write this). They had another bad 1-2-0 week in a string of them. But that's nothing compared to the Dallas Stars, who went from perhaps the favorites to grab that second spot to falling way behind thanks to a disastrous 0-4-0 week, losing to the Islanders, Devils, and Ranges on an Eastern road trip, then the Islanders again when they returned home. Ouch. The Stars do have three games in hand on the Wild, but are now looking at an eight-point deficit to catch them. Below the Stars, the Predators had a pretty bad 1-2-1 week, but that was still good enough to pass the Winnipeg Jets, who went 0-2-0 and (finally) fired coach Claude Noel, replacing him with ex-Hurricanes/Leafs bench boss Paul Maurice. And at the bottom, the Flames went 1-3-0 and the Oilers went 1-2-0, so par for the course there.
This Week in #fancystats
(all stats are total attempts, not percentages. thanks to extra skater.)
Wild 2, Kings 1 (SO)
Corsi: Kings 82-Wild 39 (overall), Kings 64-Wild 29 (5v5, 51.8 mins), Kings 63-Wild 27 (5v5 close & 5v5 tied, 49.2 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 61-Wild 26 (overall), Kings 49-Wild 20 (5v5, 51.8 mins), Kings 48-Wild 18 (5v5 close & 5v5 tied, 49.2 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Voynov (+19), Stoll (+17), Mitchell/King (tied, +16). Worst: Toffoli (+3), Frattin/Martinez (tied, +4)
Kings 4, Bruins 2
Corsi: Kings 60-Bruins 45 (overall), Kings 46-Bruins 35 (5v5, 42.7 mins), Kings 16-Bruins 13 (5v5 close, 14.4 mins), Kings 9-Bruins 8 (5v5 tied, 8.5 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 47-Bruins 37 (overall), Kings 38-Bruins 29 (5v5, 42.7 mins), Kings 14-Bruins 8 (5v5 close, 14.4 mins), Kings 8-Bruins 4 (5v5 tied, 8.5 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Stoll (+11), Brown/Williams (tied, +10). Worst: Richards/Frattin (tied, -4), Lewis/Toffoli/Mitchell (tied, -2)
Red Wings 3, Kings 1
Corsi: Kings 83-Red Wings 44 (overall), Kings 58-Red Wings 30 (5v5, 41.4 mins), Kings 48-Red Wings 28 (5v5 close, 35.9 mins), Kings 46-Red Wings 26 (5v5 tied, 34.5 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 66-Red Wings 37 (overall), Kings 52-Red Wings 26 (5v5, 41.4 mins), Kings 43-Red Wings 24 (5v5 close, 35.9 mins), Kings 42-Red Wings 22 (5v5 tied, 34.5 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Kopitar (+15), Williams (+14), Brown/Voynov/Martinez (tied, +12). Worst: Lewis/Clifford (tied, -3), Fraser (+1)
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.VAN (7:30)||-||-||@STL (5:00)||-||@DET (4:00)||-|
|ANA||-||-||vs.VAN (7:30)||-||@CHI (5:00)||@STL (5:00)||-|
|SJ||-||@WSH (4:00)||-||@FLA (4:30)||-||@TB (11 am)||-|
|VAN||@LA (7:30)||-||@ANA (7:30)||@PHX (6:00)||-||vs.CGY (7:00)||-|
|PHX||@WPG (5:00)||@STL (5:00)||-||vs.VAN (6:00)||-||vs.NJ (5:00)||-|
|CGY||-||@NSH (5:00)||-||vs.WPG (6:00)||-||@VAN (7:00)||-|
|EDM||-||@DAL (5:30)||-||@MIN (5:00)||-||@WPG (11 am)||-|
The Kings wrap up their five-game homestand tonight the same way they started it, hosting the Vancouver Canucks, and one can only hope for a same result as well. They then kick off a five-game road trip on Thursday night in St. Louis, before facing the Red Wings for the second Saturday in a row, this time in Detroit. This road trip, by the way, will take them right up to the Dodger Stadium game against the Ducks, so while that's technically a home game the Kings won't play at Staples again after tonight until Thursday, January 30th (when they host the Penguins).
Anaheim meanwhile hosts the Canucks as well on Wednesday before heading out to Chicago on Friday and St. Louis on Saturday for a tough back-to-back. The Sharks are on a quick 3-game road trip to the East, facing the Washington Capitals (who have passed the Leafs for having the least deserved record in the league; seriously, they've won like twelve games in regulation all year, they're pretty bad) tomorrow and then both Florida teams Thursday in Sunrise and Saturday in Tampa.
The Canucks are on a tough 3-game road trip through the Pacific, heading to Staples tonight, Honda Center on Wednesday, and then Jobing.com Arena (lol) on Thursday. But they're rewarded with the Calgary Flames at home on Saturday in the Hockey Night in Canada late game. The Coyotes are currently losing to the Jets as I type this, head to St. Louis tomorrow, then host the Canucks and Devils to close out their week.
Calgary is in Nashville tomorrow, hosts the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, and then head to Vancouver on Saturday. Finally, the Oilers are on the road all week, heading to face the struggling Stars tomorrow, the suddenly surging Wild on Thursday, and then finally the Jets on Saturday.
So that brings this week's edition to a close. Next week we should be back to normal with all the news and the like you've come to expect, so see you then.