This past week, for the first time ever, I got to see the Kings play live at Staples Center. Perhaps this sounds a little ludicrous, but when you live on literally the other side of the country it's not an easy thing to do. For years my only live exposure to the Kings was following them around the East coast- I'd seen them play in seven different arenas even before this trip- which, while fun, is a very different feeling from seeing them at home. It's been neat to watch the Kings contingent at these road games go from "me and probably a dozen other people" to "actually quite a lot of people" as the team got good, but in the end we're still a distinct minority.
Finally this past week everything came together. Through both generosity and collaboration, friends I made largely on this very blog were able to make the trip more affordable than ever, and after many many years of wanting and dreaming I finally made it to Los Angeles. The trip was wonderful, from the weather to the sight-seeing to meeting a ton of internet pals for the first time (spoiler: they were all great in person too!). But of course, the highlight was finally seeing the Kings at home. If I'm being honest and impartial, Staples won't be at the top of my hockey arenas list; it's more than a little bit cavernous, and the hockey-specific arenas I've been to generally have much better sight lines. None of that really mattered, though. When the Kings scored the tying goal in the final minute against Montreal and the entire building went nuts, instead of me and some scattered other people around the arena, I had finally made it home. And it was glorious. I'm quite sure it won't take me nearly as long to make it back this time around. A final thank you to everyone who made my trip so great.
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 there's something that really stood out about them. you'll also get links to Eric's awesome recaps which will expand on everything I'm saying in much greater detail if you missed any of them.)
Monday, March 2nd
-San Jose Sharks 4, Montreal Canadiens 0
Tuesday, March 3rd
-Calgary Flames 3, Philadelphia Flyers 2 (OT)
-Anaheim Ducks 4, Arizona Coyotes 1
-Los Angeles Kings 5, Edmonton Oilers 2: So we watched this game from a little hole-in-the-wall bar called North End at Hermosa Beach, which has apparently achieved a level of fame as a preferred spot for Kings staff, players, and fans alike. The first great thing about this place was that they actually put the sound on for the game, which is always preferable to random music. But then the Kings scored their first goal of the night- a blast by Matt Greene, of all people, exactly nine minutes into the 1st- and suddenly we were handed free booze. That's right, this place apparently hands out free alcohol with every Kings goal (!!!). It was a delicious mix of root beer schnapps, actual root beer, and beer (that had a black color for obvious reasons), ostensibly a shot but actually much more than that. Even our local source who recommended this place had no idea this was a thing, so it ended up being a very pleasant surprise. And boy, if you're gonna see a Kings game at a place that hands out free alcohol with every Kings goal, the Oilers are probably the team you wanna see them up against. Anyway, so the Kings won pretty easily, we got lots of free alcohol, and life was wonderful. (recap) (gamethread)
-San Jose Sharks 6, Vancouver Canucks 2: All I really wanted out of the two Sharks-Canucks games this week was "no 3 point game", and so far, so good for that. The Canucks did their part to assure a 3-point game did not happen by giving embattled former star prospect Jacob Markstrom his first start of the season. Markstrom promptly allowed 3 goals on the first 4 shots of the game before he was pulled, which yes gives him a season sv% of .250 (and a goals-against average of 22.50). Yikes.
Wednesday, March 4th
-Anaheim Ducks 3, Montreal Canadiens 1
Thursday, March 5th
-Calgary Flames 4, Boston Bruins 3 (SO): Seriously, they don't even have Giordano anymore, so can everyone stop letting the Flames win, for the love of god???
-Arizona Coyotes 3, Vancouver Canucks 2 (SO)
-Los Angeles Kings 4, Montreal Canadiens 3 (SO): Everything started off wonderfully for my first game at Staples Center, as the Kings played one of the more dominant periods of hockey I've ever seen. They outshot the Habs 13-2 in the 1st period, with Montreal's second shot coming in the final minute of the frame. They outscored them 2-0, with Gaborik tipping home a McNabb slap shot on the power play just four minutes into the game and Jeff Carter tipping in his 22nd of the game off a brilliant pass from Dustin Brown four minutes later. But some incredibly bad defensive zone coverage let the Habs tie things up in the 2nd and then take a 3-2 lead in the 3rd, and suddenly I was watching the Kings blow a 2-0 lead for the second game I attended in a row (they had done the same in Anaheim on Friday). Just as it seemed like I was destined to be a curse on the Kings forever, Lars Eller took an incredibly bad high sticking penalty with 1:35 left to play in the game, and Marian Gaborik cashed in on the power play yet again to tie the game (in a moment that will probably stick with me for quite some time). The Kings then finally managed to win a shootout, despite Quick not really making a single save, and a victory was thankfully secured. (recap) (gamethread)
Friday, March 6th
-Calgary Flames 5, Detroit Red Wings 2: Holy shit.
-Chicago Blackhawks 2, Edmonton Oilers 1 (SO)
-Pittsburgh Penguins 5, Anaheim Ducks 2
Saturday, March 7th
-Montreal Canadiens 2, Arizona Coyotes 0
-Pittsburgh Penguins 1, Los Angeles Kings 0 (OT): Yeah, so my other live game at Staples definitely could have gone better. First of all, there were large stretches of this game that were boring as hell, even for a Kings game, with almost nothing happening. Then not hearing the goal horn at all (besides a brief moment where it looked like the Kings had scored but it was waived off for incidental contact; probably the right call, which I guess is less bad than getting screwed out of a rightful goal at least) is obviously always sad. The price of the tickets due to it being LUUUUUUUUUUC night also meant our enormous group had to split up into pairs, which is not great either. So basically this game was inferior to the Habs game in almost every single way, other than our seats (we sat 200s for this one instead of the 300s). But that doesn't mean I still didn't have fun, and hey, it could have been worse because the Kings at least got a point, right? And the statue unveiling was pretty damn cool to see. Screw the Penguins, though. I hated them already and now I hate them even more for this. (recap) (gamethread)
-Vancouver Canucks 3, San Jose Sharks 2: This wasn't a 3-point game either! Good work guys!
Sunday, March 8th
-Carolina Hurricanes 7, Edmonton Oilers 4: The Oilers blew an early 3-0 lead, which hopefully was not surprising to a single person on the planet earth at this point.
-Ottawa Senators 5, Calgary Flames 4 (SO)
This Week in Standings
(5v5 SAC% = score-adjusted Corsi percentage at even strength)
|Team||GP||W||L||OTL||Points||ROW||GF||GA||Diff||Home||Away||Last Week||5v5 SAC%|
|4. Los Angeles||65||31||21||13||75||29||175||168||+7||21-7-7||10-14-6||2-0-1||55.4%|
|5. San Jose||66||32||26||8||72||30||187||186||+1||15-15-5||17-11-3||2-1-0||51.5%|
The Kings had a good week, getting 5 out of a possible 6 points. Unfortunately for them, the team they're chasing is Calgary, and they got 7 out of a possible 8 points. Yep. So the Kings remain 2 points back of the Flames with a game-in-hand, but the Flames do have 3 more ROWs to take the first tiebreaker. The Canucks at least put up a middling 1-1-1 week, so the Kings remain within striking distance of them at 3 points back (but with the same ROW problem). From below, the Sharks went 2-1-0 and are three points back of us, and the Kings do still have a game-in-hand on them as well.
Back to the Wild Card standings, sadly still featuring the Kings.
|Team||GP||W||L||OTL||Points||ROW||GF||GA||Diff||Home||Away||Last Week||5v5 SAC%|
|1. Minnesota (C)||66||36||23||7||79||33||186||168||+18||18-9-5||18-14-2||3-1-0||52.7%|
|2. Winnipeg (C)||66||33||21||12||78||27||183||176||+7||17-11-5||16-10-7||1-1-0||53.8%|
|3. Los Angeles (P)||65||31||21||13||75||29||175||168||+7||21-7-7||10-14-6||2-0-1||55.4%|
|4. San Jose (P)||66||32||26||8||72||30||187||186||+1||15-15-5||17-11-3||2-1-0||51.5%|
|5. Colorado (C)||66||30||25||11||71||22||177||185||-8||17-13-3||13-12-8||3-0-0||43.3%|
|6. Dallas (C)||66||29||27||10||68||26||207||220||-13||13-13-8||16-14-2||2-1-0||51.7%|
|7. Arizona (P)||66||21||38||7||49||16||142||222||-80||10-18-4||11-20-3||1-2-0||49.0%|
|8. Edmonton (P)||66||18||37||11||47||13||150||222||-72||10-20-2||8-17-9||0-2-1||47.9%|
Minnesota went 3-1-0 to take over the top spot in the Wild Card standings, further solidifying their playoff spot. Winnipeg only played two games this week and went 1-1-0, and suddenly what had been a very secure spot is starting to look much less so. Their gap over the Kings for the final Wild Card spot is just 3 points, as the Kings suddenly have another realistic option if they can't catch Calgary for 3rd in the division (they also have a game-in-hand on Winnipeg).
This Week in #fancystats
(all stats are total attempts, not percentages. thanks to
extra skater war-on-ice.)
Kings 5, Oilers 2
Corsi: Oilers 54-Kings 52 (overall), Oilers 41-Kings 40 (5v5), Kings 14-Oilers 5 (5v5 tied)
Fenwick: Kings 37-Oilers 36 (overall), Kings 29-Oilers 29 (5v5), Kings 10-Oilers 4 (5v5 tied)
LA Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Toffoli/Carter (tied, +6), McNabb (+5). Worst: Nolan (-7), Shore (-6), Muzzin/Greene (tied, -5)
EDM Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Roy (+11), Oesterle (+8), Purcell (+7). Worst: Hendricks (-10), Pouliot (-8), Klefbom (-5)
Kings 4, Canadiens 3 (SO)
Corsi: Kings 66-Canadiens 42 (overall), Kings 47-Canadiens 32 (5v5), Kings 12-Canadiens 10 (5v5 tied)
Fenwick: Kings 48-Canadiens 31 (overall), Kings 35-Canadiens 23 (5v5), Kings 8-Canadiens 8 (5v5 tied)
LA Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Sekera (+8), King (+7), Toffoli/Muzzin/McNabb/Greene/Carter (tied, +5). Worst: Williams (+2), Stoll/Shore/Nolan/Gaborik/Doughty/Clifford/Brown (tied, +3)
MTL Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Petry (+7), Smith-Pelly/Pacioretty (tied, even). Worst: Markov (-12), Mitchell (-10), Weaver/Subban (tied, -9)
Penguins 1, Kings 0 (OT)
Corsi: Kings 47-Penguins 43 (overall), Kings 34-Penguins 29 (5v5 & 5v5 tied)
Fenwick: Kings 38-Penguins 30 (overall), Kings 27-Penguins 22 (5v5 & 5v5 tied)
LA Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Shore/McNabb (tied, +8), Sekera (+7). Worst: Williams/Regehr (tied, -6), Stoll/Doughty (tied, -5)
PIT Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Malkin (+5), Kunitz (+3), Perron/Comeau (tied, +2). Worst: Spaling (-6), Sutter/Letang/Lapierre/Bennett (tied, -5)
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||-||@COL (6:00)||-||@VAN (7:00)||-||vs.NSH (7:00)||-|
|ANA||@VAN (7:00)||-||@CGY (6:30)||-||@MIN (5:00)||-||vs.NSH (5:00)|
|VAN||vs.ANA (7:00)||-||-||vs.LA (7:00)||-||vs.TOR (4:00)||-|
|CGY||-||-||vs.ANA (6:30)||-||vs.TOR (5:00)||@COL (7:00)||-|
|SJ||vs.PIT (7:00)||-||-||vs.NSH (7:30)||-||vs.CHI (1:00)||-|
|ARI||vs.NSH (7:00)||-||-||vs.CHI (7:00)||-||vs.NJ (6:00)||-|
|EDM||@DET (4:30)||-||-||@PIT (4:00)||@CBJ (4:00)||-||-|
The Kings are on a brief 2-game road trip, as they're in Colorado to play an awful Avalanche team before heading out to Vancouver for a hugely important game, standings-wise. They return home Saturday to face the struggling Predators (who've lost their last six in a row) in what's sure to be another exciting Kings-Perds matchup. Meanwhile, the Ducks can help the Kings out by beating the Canucks, Flames, and Wild. The Canucks and Flames each get two free points from Toronto, which will not help the Kings out. And the Sharks have a tough week ahead of them, with the Penguins, Predators, and Blackhawks lined up to face them.
That's all for now. No Jewelcast tonight, but if you missed last week's episode, with eight of us in the same room and apparently sounding underwater, definitely go check that out! See you next time.