This Week in Kings (1/5/15)

Holy crap it's 2015! WHERE'S OUR FLYING CARS. And also, uh, some more Kings wins would be nice.

The Kings played four games this past week and the NHL schedule was stuffed to capacity due to the previous week's Kwanzaa break, so let's not waste any time and get right 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 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, December 29th

-Calgary Flames 2, Los Angeles Kings 1: On the bright side, this would be LA's only regulation loss of the week. But on the other hand, it came against the Calgary friggin' Flames, again. Ugh. The Kings played well for most of this game other than a 62-second span; unfortunately, they let Calgary score two goals during the timeframe, and were never able to tie the game up despite throwing 27 shots on Calgary's net (compared to just a paltry 15 from the Flames). Typical Kings, I guess. At least it didn't involve a last couple minutes collapse this time. (recap) (gamethread)

-Arizona Coyotes 4, Philadelphia Flyers 2: Can you believe the Flyers robbed us blind for Mike '14 points in 40 games' Richards AND got great value for Jeff Carter out of Columbus and they're still this bad? Like. That's almost a stunning achievement in failure. They turned a very good player (Jeff) into another very good player (Voracek) PLUS Sean Couturier, and turned the aforementioned soon-to-be-most-overpaid 4th line center in the league into two very solid forwards (Simmonds and Baby Schenn, of course). That kind of asset management should have given them a headstart on building a dynasty. Instead, they're losing to the team that can't beat anyone not named the Edmonton Oilers, sport a cool 14-18-7 despite playing in probably the NHL's most mediocre division (though this year's Pacific is giving it a run for its money, let's be honest), and are probably going to miss the playoffs for the second time in the past three seasons. Hell, they probably should have missed last year too. I don't get the chance to talk about them here very often, so just to reiterate: You are trash, Kings East.

Tuesday, December 30th

-Edmonton Oilers 3, Los Angeles Kings 2 (SO): Yes, this one was clearly my fault, so I would like to take this time to apologize. After weeks of publicizing Project Only the Sharks Can Lose to the Oilers, the Kings became just the 2nd team in the Western Conference to somehow lose a game to the hapless, helpless club from Edmonton. But a late power play goal from Jake Muzzin at least ensured that the Sharks would remain the only team in the West to lose to the Oilers in regulation. Our mission statement has changed a little, but the dream lives on! Project Only the Sharks Can Lose to the Oilers In Regulation moves forth into the new year! (recap) (gamethread)

-Vancouver Canucks 3, San Jose Sharks 1

Wednesday, December 31st

-San Jose Sharks 3, Anaheim Ducks 0: Man, if the Ducks had to play the Sharks in every game they would probably never win again. San Jose has seemingly found a winning formula for playing the Ducks: take a multiple-goal lead early on and then calmly sit back and watch as the Ducks put on a patented Anaheim Ducks Complete and Total MeltdownTM. Why can't the rest of the league copy that?

-Dallas Stars 6, Arizona Coyotes 0: Woof, Desert Dogs. It's not everyday you see a team go into the 3rd period trailing 2-0 and exit it trailing by six. Did someone hypnotize Devan Dubnyk into thinking he was playing for the Oilers again during the 2nd intermission? Did the New Year's Eve party start sooner than expected, with Howler passing out shots in between periods? I mean, jesus.

-Calgary Flames 4, Edmonton Oilers 3 (OT): Getting out to an early 2-0 lead against your hated provincial rivals only to blow it in the 3rd, take another lead only to see them tie it again just 2:26 later, and ultimately lose the game in OT is basically Peak Oilers, I think. Following the game David Perron was so desperate to escape he invented a player out of thin air just so he could be traded for him, and despite giving his fake player the ridiculously fictitious name of "Rob Klinkhammer" the Oilers fell for it anyway. This entire plan was the most successful thing done by an Edmonton Oiler since before many children were born.

Thursday, January 1st

-Los Angeles Kings 3, Vancouver Canucks 2: Amazingly, despite the fact that the Kings had more than doubled the Canucks up on shots (they would end the game with a 40-16 margin, which is not a typo), they were barely more than 2 minutes away from losing this game in regulation. That changed when Ryan Miller, who in fairness had been pretty brilliant up until this point, allowed an awful short-side goal to Justin Williams on the power play to tie the game. The Canucks prepared for an inevitable overtime that suddenly became, uh, very evitable, thanks to an even more awful short-side goal (on a slap shot!) from Jarret Stoll just 53 seconds later. How hilarious is it that Canucks fans who never watch or pay attention to the Kings must think Stoll is some kind of clutch-performing hockey god, by the way? (recap) (gamethread)

Friday, January 2nd

-Colorado Avalanche 2, Edmonton Oilers 1 (SO)

-New York Islanders 2, Calgary Flames 1

-Anaheim Ducks 4, St. Louis Blues 3

Saturday, January 3rd

-Nashville Predators 7, Los Angeles Kings 6 (OT): I am going to share with you a dirty little secret: when the Kings went down 5-1 less than four minutes into the 2nd period, I quite literally fell asleep. As a chronic insomniac I often have a hard time sleeping at night, and on top of that I was planning to stay up much later Saturday evening from 2-6 am eastern to watch a Japanese professional wrestling show live (yes, what an exciting life I lead), so I figured what the hell: if the Kings were going to sleep through this afternoon game, I may as well join them. I woke up a few times, when the Kings cut the lead to 5-3 and when Nashville made it 6-3, and I think when it was still 6-3 with maybe five or six minutes left. Suddenly my girlfriend shook me to wake me up when the Kings had scored 2 goals in 57 seconds to cut the lead to 1. Groggily I laid there as the Kings then followed it up with another goal just 30 seconds later, meaning they had scored 3 to tie it in a grand total of a minute and 27 seconds, and upon the 6th goal I shot up like "a bat out of hell" according to what I am told (honestly, I barely remember it). Then the Predators scored eighteen seconds into overtime. So basically, I saw Nashville score 6 goals and saw the Kings score, I guess, one? Oh well. (recap) (gamethread)

-Arizona Coyotes 6, Columbus Blue Jackets 3

-Vancouver Canucks 4, Detroit Red Wings 1

-St. Louis Blues 7, San Jose Sharks 2: This was an interesting (for everyone but Sharks fans; for them I guess you would call it depressing) look into what a future without Joe Thornton might look like for the Sharks, as Jumbo sat out the game with some kind of debilitating upper-body injury/illness/something obviously not involving his heart since we all know he doesn't have one of those WOOOOO HIGH FIVE. Anyway, I'm sure @tradethornton is undeterred.

Sunday, January 4th

-Anaheim Ducks 4, Nashville Predators 3 (SO)

-Edmonton Oilers 5, New York Islanders 2

This Week in Standings

Two changes for this week: first of all, with War on Ice now supporting score-adjusted Corsi, I'm switching to that for our weekly Corsi column (before it had been just raw 5v5 CF%, which is less predictive). Second of all, with the new year upon us and NHL teams now approaching halfway through the season, we'll reintroduce the Western Wild Card table along with the Pacific table. I always wait to do this as long as I can because it quite literally doubles my work, but we really should start paying attention to it now, especially with where LA is in the Pacific standings.

Team GP W L OTL Points ROW GF GA Diff Home Away Last Week 5v5 SAC%
1. Anaheim 41 26 9 6 58 21 115 110 +5 14-4-3 12-5-3 2-1-0 51.7%
2. Vancouver 37 22 12 3 47 20 109 98 +11 10-6-1 12-6-2 2-1-0 50.6%
3. Los Angeles 40 19 12 9 47 18 112 103 +9 14-4-3 5-8-6 1-1-2 55.3%
4. San Jose 39 20 14 5 45 18 106 103 +3 10-6-2 10-8-3 1-2-0 52.1%
5. Calgary 40 21 16 3 45 18 115 105 +10 11-7-2 10-9-1 2-1-0 44.4%
6. Arizona 38 15 19 4 34 12 92 124 -32 8-8-3 7-11-1 2-1-0 49.4%
7. Edmonton 40 9 22 9 27 8 88 135 -47 7-12-2 2-10-7 2-0-2 49.3%

No movement to speak of in the Pacific standings this week. Anaheim & Vancouver each had solid 2-1-0 weeks to maintain their positions, while LA's hilarious 1-1-2 record was enough to keep them in the important 3rd Pacific slot (would YOU bet against them in a 1st round matchup with the Canucks???) for another week. The Kings are at least tied with the Canucks in points, though the Canucks still own three games in hand. Below the Kings, the Sharks had a bad 1-2-0 week and are 2 points back of the Kings and tied in points with the Flames, though they have a game in hand on both clubs. In the "way too little, way too late" department, the Coyotes went 2-1-0 for the 2nd week in a row, and the Oilers' 2-0-2 week is nothing short of a modern miracle at this point.

Onto the debut of the Wild Card standings!

Team GP W L OTL Points ROW GF GA Diff Home Away Last Week 5v5 SAC%
1. Winnipeg (C) 39 20 12 7 47 18 101 93 +8 9-8-3 11-4-4 1-2-0 53.3%
2. San Jose (P) 39 20 14 5 45 18 106 103 +3 10-6-2 10-8-3 1-2-0 52.1%
3. Calgary (P) 40 21 16 3 45 18 115 105 +10 11-7-2 10-9-1 2-1-0 44.4%
4. Dallas (C) 38 18 14 6 42 16 119 124 -5 9-7-5 9-7-1 3-0-1 51.4%
5. Minnesota (C) 37 18 15 4 40 16 104 106 -2 10-4-4 8-11-0 2-2-0 52.8%
6. Colorado (C) 39 15 16 8 38 10 101 117 -16 9-9-3 6-7-5 2-2-0 44.9%
7. Arizona (P) 38 15 19 4 34 12 92 124 -32 8-8-3 7-11-1 2-1-0 49.4%
8. Edmonton (P) 40 9 22 9 27 8 88 135 -47 7-12-2 2-10-7 2-0-2 49.3%

And here we have the Wild Card race. Luckily for us the Kings don't find themselves in here right now, but given the incredibly close nature of the middle of the Pacific standings, either LA or Vancouver could find themselves battling for one of the two playoff spots before too long.

The Central Division really is stunning when you look at these Wild Card standings. Dallas and Minnesota, two teams who made the playoffs last year and were both expected to be solid playoff teams again this season, are dangerously close to incredibly disappointing seasons as we approach the midway point. The only things they do have going for them are good possession numbers and some games in hand on everyone above them in the standings. Unfortunately, the big thing working against them is just how good the top 4 teams in the Central are, including the stunning Nashville and Winnipeg clubs. You can see in the table above that the Jets' score-adjusted Corsi numbers are better than either Minnesota or Dallas', and the same goes for the current Central-leading Predators too (53.4%, so nearly identical to Winnipeg's). Add in the legitimate Cup contenders of Chicago and St. Louis and it really becomes hard to see how either the Wild or Stars will get in, let alone both, barring some kind of massive collapse from Winnipeg and/or Nashville in the 2nd half. Maybe one of them can overtake San Jose (or LA or Vancouver should they fall out of the top 3) and the Central could send five teams for the 2nd straight year? I guess it's not out of the question.

Meanwhile, the Avalanche were expected to be trash, they by all means should be trash, and they basically are trash. So at least some things work out as planned.

This Week in #fancystats

(all stats are total attempts, not percentages. thanks to extra skater war-on-ice.)

Flames 2, Kings 1
Corsi: Kings 69-Flames 34 (overall), Kings 57-Flames 31 (5v5), Flames 12-Kings 8 (5v5 tied)
Fenwick: Kings 43-Flames 21 (overall), Kings 37-Flames 20 (5v5), Kings 6-Flames 6 (5v5 tied)
LA Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Muzzin/Doughty (tied, +17), King (+12). Worst: Nolan/Clifford (tied, -1), Schultz (even)
CGY Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Bollig (+4), Diaz (+2), Engelland/Stajan (tied, even). Worst: Giordano/Wideman (tied, -15), Granlund/Brodie/Glencross (tied, -13)

Oilers 3, Kings 2 (SO)
Corsi: Kings 68-Oilers 57 (overall), Kings 59-Oilers 35 (5v5), Oilers 6-Kings 2 (5v5 tied)
Fenwick: Kings 49-Oilers 38 (overall), Kings 42-Oilers 22 (5v5), Oilers 4-Kings 2 (5v5 tied)
LA Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Doughty (+20), Schultz (+17), Toffoli (+13). Worst: Greene (-3), Kopitar/Stoll/Gaborik (tied, even)
EDM Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Perron (+2), Hall (+1), Draisaitl (even). Worst: Ference (-14), Pitlick/Yakupov/Gordon (tied, -13)

Kings 3, Canucks 2
: Kings 67-Canucks 33 (overall), Kings 61-Canucks 28 (5v5), Kings 16-Canucks 7 (5v5 tied)
Fenwick: Kings 51-Canucks 23 (overall), Kings 47-Canucks 19 (5v5), Kings 13-Canucks 4 (5v5 tied)
LA Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Doughty (+14), Muzzin (+13), Lewis/Stoll (tied, +12). Worst: Carter (+2), Toffoli (+5), Richards/Gaborik (tied, +6)
VAN Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Hansen (-1), Bonino/Matthias/Higgins (tied, -5). Worst: Stanton/Bieksa (tied, -18), Burrows (-13)

Predators 7, Kings 6 (OT)
Corsi: Kings 64-Predators 44 (overall), Kings 41-Predators 33 (5v5), Predators 4-Kings 1 (5v5 tied)
Fenwick: Kings 49-Predators 35 (overall), Kings 32-Predators 27 (5v5), Predators 4-Kings 1 (5v5 tied)
LA Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Kopitar (+18), King (+11), Martinez (+9). Worst: Toffoli/Lewis (tied, -5), Pearson/Schultz/Richards (tied, -3)
NSH Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Ribeiro (+2), Smith/Wilson/Stalberg/Gaustad (tied, +1). Worst: Jarnkrok (-8), Josi/Nystrom (tied, -6)

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.)

Team 1/5 1/6 1/7 1/8 1/9 1/10 1/11
LA - - - vs.NYR (7:30) - vs.WPG (7:00) -
ANA - - vs.NYR (7:30) - - - vs.WPG (6:00)
VAN - vs.NYI (7:00) - vs.FLA (7:00) - vs.CGY (7:00) -
SJ @WPG (5:00) @MIN (5:00) - @STL (5:00) - vs.NYR (7:00) -
CGY - - vs.DET (6:30) - vs.FLA (6:00) @VAN (7:00) -
ARI - vs.STL (6:00) - vs.WPG (6:00) - vs.OTT (4:00) -
EDM - vs.DET (6:30) - - vs.CHI (6:30) - vs.FLA (4:00)

The Kings continue to have one of the most bizarre schedules in the NHL, as after a jam-packed four-game week they now are off until Thursday's Stanley Cup Final rematch with the New York Rangers. Their only other action of the week is also at home, as they host the surprising Winnipeg Jets. The copycat Ducks also only have two games, also against the Rangers and Jets.

Vancouver continues their homestand when it welcomes in a pair of Eastern bottom-dwellers-turned-quality-sides in the Islanders & Panthers, before a Hockey Night in Canada matchup with the Flames that probably can't top the "both teams are on long losing streaks, someone has to win, oh wow Calgary just scored into their own net!!!" Saturday night matchup of a few weeks ago.

San Jose, meanwhile, is on a tough 3-game road trip through the Central Division. They'll play 3 games in 4 nights against the Jets, Wild, and Blues, with Joe Thornton unavailable for at least the first 2. Yikes. Of course, now that I said this watch them win all three games. They'll return home to host the Rangers on Saturday, and thankfully Martin Biron is retired so that punk Tomas Hertl can't embarrass poor Marty, himself, and the entire sport of hockey again. What a shameful young man. Someone kneeds to teach him a thing or two about respect.

The Flames will host the Red Wings and Panthers before playing in that aforementioned HNIC late game with the Canucks on Saturday. And, uh, do you really care what the Coyotes or Oilers are doing? Because you shouldn't. Okay cool.

That's all for another edition of TWIK! Don't forget that the World-Famous Jewelcast will return tonight after taking its first week off in its seven month long history: we'll be joined by two different Rangers guests to help us preview Thursday's Stanley Cup Final rematch, so don't miss it! Show will go live streaming off the Jewels main page at 6 pacific/9 eastern, so we'll see you then!