This Week in Kings (1/6/14)

The Road Trip From Hell comes to a merciful end, but luckily the Kings had some old friends waiting for them back in Los Angeles.

Being a fan of a really good hockey team comes with its obvious perks, but also has its downsides. If we were all fans of, say, the Carolina Hurricanes, I'm quite certain that watching our favorite team have a godawful road trip and a five-game losing streak would not feel nearly as painful. Yes, it sucks watching your favorite team lose and all, but without high expectations it wouldn't result in the kind of widespread panic that overtook most of the fanbase this week. Most of that panic was kind of overblown, yes, but it's to be expected when a team that we all know is one of the best in the NHL suddenly can't even earn a single point in the standings. Luckily the Kings were able to snap that streak at the end of the week, which should make this week's article about 1000% less of a slog to read (nevermind write). So let's get right into it.

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.)

-In Los Angeles, most of the big news centered around Jonathan Quick's return from injury. He was activated off IR on Saturday, and of course eventually ended up starting the game against the Canucks later that night, his first start since leaving the game in Buffalo on November 12 with a grade-two groin strain. Although Quick's play had been less-than-spectacular in his brief season until that point, posting just a .905 sv% through his first 16 games, it is worth remembering that he was on something of an upswing (so yes, his sv% was actually even worse at one point) before he went down to injury. And although Ben Scrivens & Martin Jones both played admirably in Quick's absence, their own sky high save percentages were starting to come back down to earth. So regression being what regression is, it's quite likely that both Quick's sv% will continue to climb back towards at least the league average, while both Scrivens & Jones would have continued to fall back down towards it, which would lead one to conclude that it's probably better to have Quick back in net right now. He was originally supposed to have a conditioning assignment in Manchester, but inclement weather out on the east coast (yes, it is actually winter in some parts of the world!) put a stop to those plans and Quick ended up being thrown right back into NHL action instead. He mostly looked okay against Vancouver, with maybe a few moments where he looked slightly more awkward than usual (which is already pretty damn awkward), but the results were certainly there.

-So with Quick coming back obviously other roster moves were inevitable. Earlier on Saturday the Kings traded Dan Carcillo to the New York Rangers for a 7th round draft pick in 2014, freeing up a roster spot for Quick's return. Carcillo really had not played much for the Kings this year since being acquired in the offseason from Chicago, only playing in 26 games. He had a goal and an assist and 57 penalty minutes, and probably wasn't nearly as bad as many of us were expecting him to be after he was first acquired. Still, he was clearly quite expendable. As a side note, I have seen the pick described as conditional in several different places (though not in that Kings article), and yet I haven't seen the actual condition on the pick listed anywhere. Shrug. Anyway, that move briefly lead us to believe that the Kings might just carry three goaltenders for a little while, presumably until a trade partner could be found for Ben Scrivens, but Martin Jones was indeed assigned to Manchester the following day. Even though he had played better than Scrivens, it was inevitable that he would be the one sent down of the two, as unlike Scrivens he did not have to clear waivers. That does leave the Kings with an open roster spot, so it will be interesting to see if they decide to give Linden Vey or Tanner Pearson another call up soon.

-Before I go into more team-specific news, let's do a quick recap of all the Pacific Division players named to Team USA, who revealed their Olympic roster following the Winter Classic in Detroit on New Year's Day. From our Kings came Dustin Brown & Jonathan Quick, who interestingly enough were never considered anything but locks in the selection process despite both currently having tough seasons (and having not exactly lit the world on fire last year, either). Both are returning from the 2010 team. Forwards Joe Pavelski from San Jose and Ryan Kesler from Vancouver are both also returning players from the 2010 team, and neither are big surprises either. In what was a bit of a surprise, Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler somehow made the team, despite being pretty terrible. His relative Corsi is a bit better this year, but like probably the entire team he's benefiting from a nice PDO (101.6, to be exact). Anyway, there were better defensemen, and apparently Dean Lombardi (who was an adviser) made an impassioned plea for Keith Yandle of the Coyotes but was turned down. So that's it as far as Pacific contributions to the bronze-at-best team. We'll see how many guys from the division make the future gold medalists on Tuesday, when Team Canada releases their roster.

-Hey, so the Sharks are pretty beat up right now, specifically at forward. They're obviously still missing Tomas Hertl after something bad happened to him I forget what, shockingly Martin Havlat is injured again, Raffi Torres hasn't played a game yet, and now Tommy Wingels is the latest to join the walking wounded. Try to shed at least a single tear for them if you can, they're apparently really desperate for meaninglessly hollow shows of emotion.

-The Anaheim Ducks extended forward Andrew Cogliano on Saturday, signing the pending UFA to a 4-year, $12 million dollar deal. I can't really mock them for a $3 million per year deal, which seems perfectly reasonable. He's probably not as good as his pace so far this year (26 points in 44 games), his relative Corsi is basically even with the rest of his team, and his PDO is even higher than Fowler's at 102.1 (though still lower than last year's, which somehow finished the year at 103.3. thanks shortened season!). At the same time, his Corsi rel was actually +5.6% last year, so he was one of the few Ducks who actually drove play during their more fluky 2012-13 campaign. Anyway, I think if I was a Ducks fan I'd be perfectly fine with this deal, but I would probably also enjoy eating paste so maybe I would be wrong.

-Jonathan Quick wasn't the only starting goaltender to return on Saturday night, as the Canucks got Roberto Luongo back from injury after he had been out for four games. He was certainly stellar, stopping 46 of 48 shots he faced, but ultimately couldn't succeed in stealing the win for his very flat team. But after the game came the news that Luongo was going right back on the shelf, as 'Dirty' Dustin Brown struck once again. It hasn't been confirmed per say that it was Brown's hilarious accidentally-on-purpose collision with Luongo following his tying goal was the cause of this mysterious injury, but I'm not sure what else during that game could have caused it. It remains to be seen how long Luongo will actually be out for, though if this extends all the way into the Olympics I may actually be annoyed at Brown for the first time in my life. I'm pretty sure there's support groups to deal with that sort of thing, so I should be okay.

-Another player who returned from injury this week was Phoenix captain Shane Doan, who was finally cleared on Saturday after being out since early December with a rare illness called Rocky Mountain Fever. Whatever your feelings on Doan may be, it's still good to see him recover from what can apparently be a life-threatening illness if it's not caught in time. The Coyotes could certainly use the boost, as they've been floundering for quite a while now after getting off to a hot (but unsustainable) start, clinging desperately to the second Wild Card spot with a number of teams nipping at their heels.

-Once again there's basically no news coming out of Calgary, so I direct you towards a kind of hilarious article lamenting the Flames' lack of potential Olympians. Hey, some guys might make some borderline-irrelevant teams! Yeah!

-So how was the Edmonton Oilers' 2013? Let's ask the guys over at Copper: "For so many reasons I want to forget that the Oilers even played hockey in 2013." Sounds like a year-in-review for the Oilers alright.

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, December 30th

-Chicago Blackhawks 1, Los Angeles Kings 0: Other than that stupid Nashville game, this was probably the most frustrating of all the Kings' losses during the 5-game streak (granted, I didn't see the Dallas game, but more on that in a second). The Kings went into Chicago and somehow held one of the best offensive teams we've seen in this generation to just a single goal, and yet still lost in regulation. They played extremely well at 5v5, as Nick had them ahead 13-8 in chances at evens, but one series of unfortunate events (that Eric detailed extremely well in his recap) lead to the only goal of the game in the first and that ended up being all Chicago needed. Their performance defensively in the 3rd was something to behold, as the Kings could generate virtually nothing in the way of chances while just needing a single goal to tie it. If you told me beforehand that the Kings and Blackhawks would play an extremely tight-checking game in which just a single goal was scored, I think most people would have said that plays into LA's strengths and not Chicago's, but it was the Hawks who ultimately came away with the win in this one. Still, certainly a much better effort than the last time the Kings played in Chicago, and I think if the Kings weren't in the midst of that losing streak we would probably have all been much more satisfied with it. (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)

-Philadelphia Flyers 4, Vancouver Canucks 3 (SO)

Tuesday, December 31st

-Dallas Stars 3, Los Angeles Kings 2: Okay, so this will probably be the shortest mini-recap of all time, for a very simple reason: this game started at 8 pm out here on the east coast, and I was already in the middle of getting so drunk at a 6-hour-long open bar that I eventually tweeted this. So yeah. Had the Kings not lost their fourth straight game I probably would have checked it out later, but since they, uh, did, I really felt no need to subject myself to needless sorrow. From reading though it sounds pretty similar to the Hawks game, except they somehow generated even less in a third period they were trailing (1 scoring chance as opposed to two). Yikes. My hangover the next day was probably more fun than watching that third. Probably. (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)

-Anaheim Ducks 6, San Jose Sharks 3: You guys have no idea how amazed I am that the home-and-home between the Sharks & Ducks somehow featured two two-point games. With the way this division usually goes you can basically just award each team a point before the game starts and get it over with, but somehow the Ducks & Sharks each won at home and both in regulation. Amazing.

-Philadelphia Flyers 4, Calgary Flames 1

-Phoenix Coyotes 4, Edmonton Oilers 3 (OT)

Wednesday, January 1st

-Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Vancouver Canucks 2: This was the only other game on Wednesday other than the one where no one was allowed to stickhandle, and the Canucks somehow dropped their second straight game at home to an opponent from the Latvia of conferences. They gave up the game-winner with just 3 seconds left in the 2nd period to rookie Nikita Kucherov on a power play, eventually gave up an insurance marker in the 3rd, and that was that. Not a great way to start the new year.

Thursday, January 2nd

-St. Louis Blues 5, Los Angeles Kings 0: Even if I didn't just tell you what the final score of this game was, I bet you could read this tweet and then immediately come to the conclusion of "well, of course the Kings were trailing at the time", because they're the Kings and we've all seen this movie about twenty billion times before, give or take. The Kings were undoubtedly the better team in the 1st, were probably still the better team in the 2nd, and somehow lost their fifth straight game in a blowout. Hockey, ladies and gents! Anyway, there really isn't much else to say about this one. They played reasonably well but made a few dumb mistakes and the goaltending just wasn't there at all to bail them out (Jones was pulled for Scrivens who didn't fare any better). Again, if it hadn't come following four straight losses I doubt we would have reacted the way we did, which was utter panic and fury, but that's what happens when the natural randomness of an 82-game season forms a depressing pattern. The underlying numbers continued to tell a story of "it's just bad luck mixed with some bad penalties, everybody chill", but it's natural to be a little emotional and panic-y when your favorite team suddenly can't buy a point in the standings, I think. Luckily the people in charge seem to be smart enough not to panic: Darryl Sutter even said after the Vancouver game that he thought his team deserved a better fate in this one, meaning that he likely didn't put too much stock into the final score. If you're going to be a successful team in this league, you need that kind of attitude from your coach and GM. Compare it to, say, how Randy Carlyle seems to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs ("we're getting points in coin flips so we're doing things well now and 'competing', even though we're still getting heavily outshot in every single game!") and be thankful. (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)

-Columbus Blue Jackets 2, Phoenix Coyotes 0: Ouch, getting shutout by the woeful Jackets at home? This would be why the Yotes desperately needed that whole returning-Doan-gives-them-a-spark thing.

-San Jose Sharks 5, Edmonton Oilers 1

Friday, January 3rd

-Tampa Bay Lightning 2, Calgary Flames 0: 2004 Stanley Cup Final rematch! Yeah! If you ever actually go back and watch any of the games from that godawful series (which they still seem to play on NHL Network during the offseasons with shocking regularity, one of many, many reasons why the NHL Network is pretty awful), you would probably come to the conclusion that the following season was canceled out of embarrassment. I mean, jesus. Anytime fans try to complain about refs letting too much obstruction or interference or whatever go nowadays (and they certainly do let more go compared to how they were calling it in 2006, granted), I really want to tie them down and force them to watch that series again, because holy crap. Oh, I have absolutely nothing to say about this actual hockey game that occurred in 2014, nope not at all.

-Anaheim Ducks 5, Edmonton Oilers 2: It's almost amazing how inept the Oilers are. Like you think they would eventually upset someone on accident, but nope, they go into San Jose & Anaheim and promptly get stomped on by both teams. Now of course because I said this the Oilers will upset the Kings in their next meeting, so my apologies in advance for that.

Saturday, January 4th

-Colorado Avalanche 4, San Jose Sharks 3: 3 goals allowed on 14 shots seems pretty bad, and indeed Antti Niemi was pulled following the Avalanche's third goal. Alex Stalock came in and promptly gave up a goal on the very first shot he faced, capping a crazy run for the Avalanche in which they scored three goals in 66 seconds. Stalock did manage to stop the next six shots he faced- did I mention he came in with more than 14 minutes to play in the 2nd? jesus Colorado- and the Sharks closed the 4-0 game to 4-3, but ultimately were unable to get it tied. Thanks Colorado! Your goalie is still a piece of crap though.

-Philadelphia Flyers 5, Phoenix Coyotes 3: At first it looked like that whole "emotional boost by returning captain Shane Doan" thing was going to carry the Yotes to a victory, as they held leads of 2-0 and 3-1, but ultimately collapsed and allowed the Flyers to score a regulation comeback win in Phoenix. The Yotes had been practically unbeatable at home earlier in the season, but unlike the Ducks (who still haven't lost in regulation in Anaheim) that has largely collapsed on them. They're a paltry 1-3-1 in their last five home games, and that one win was against Edmonton so it barely even counts.

-Los Angeles Kings 3, Vancouver Canucks 1: For forty minutes, this game looked like it was going to be yet another infuriating LA Kings Special. The Kings outshot the Canucks thirty-five to nineteen through two periods, yet trailed 1-0, as Luongo was simply brilliant in his first game back. But Dustin Brown finally broke through just 1:07 into the 3rd, converting on a rebound off a shot by Justin Williams that seemed to be intentional setting him up to do just that (and it helped that somehow not a single Canuck picked him up wide open in front of the net; Mike Santorelli helpfully showed up to push Brown after the goal went in though, allowing him to accidentally-on-purpose roundhouse kick Luongo right in the face and probably cause him to go back on the shelf). Jeff Carter would score the eventual game-winner following a dogged forecheck by Dwight King (who Nick said had his best game ever as a King and it's pretty hard to argue, with only the game against the Yotes in the 2012 WCF possibly standing up as competition), and then seal the game with an empty-netter to finally break the Kings' five-game losing streak. This game was basically complete and utter domination by the Kings, with only Vancouver's power play and stellar goaltending from Luongo keeping the score respectable. It was a hell of a way to get back in the win column: total destruction of a hated rival. (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)

Sunday, January 5th

(there's a backstory as to why I'm turning things over to a San Jose Sharks fan for a moment here, but I won't bore you with it. anyway, enjoy, and I'm sorry.)

-San Jose Sharks 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2 (SO): First off, sup Kings bros and hoes. This is self-proclaimed D-list twitter celeb, @stace_ofbase. This recap is your punishment for killing my baby. I am here today to discuss the San Jose Sharks’ regular season game triumph over the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. In the first matchup against these dudes, the Blackhawks destroyed the Sharks, and prior to yesterday’s game, Sharks’ fans were super optimistic. The Blackhawks have been killing it at the United Center (and in general), and the Sharks had not won at the United Center in FOUR years. To give you a sense of how long ago that was, it was before iPads were launched and before the Los Angeles Kings became relevant again. Anyway, Jason "Daddy" Demers got his third of the season midway through the first from former Ducks fan, Nieto, and Doughty’s BFF, Couture. The rest of the first was chance-on-chance-on-chance-on-chance. Second period was chance-on-chance-on-chance-on-chance for both teams but no dice. Very polite Canadian dude with a Stanley Cup, Corey Crawford, made all the saves. Backup goalie sensation/Heartthrob/American hero, Alex Stalock and strong defensive play by the Sharks held Chicago from scoring through the first two periods. Annnnnd then the dreaded Turd Period™… The Sharks have been pretty terrible in the third this season. Hjalmarsson, scored at 1:27 from hero, Toews, and pretty boy, Sharp. The scoring did not stop there. Rozsival scored a pretty cool goal at 4:01 from Kruger. Suddenly the Blackhawks are winning anDAMN IT FREAKIN’ TURD PERIOD. After that, Sharks just couldn’t seem to get any past Crawford until Brent "I’d get naked if I scored four goals" Burns scored at 11:10 from Joe "Rock out with your noodle out" Thornton and future Olympic sensation, Vlasic. TIE GAME OH MY GOD WE MIGHT GET A POINT!! Anyway, the rest of the game was chance-on-chance-on-chance-on-chance but both goaltenders stopped all the pucks. OH MY GOD WE GOT A POINT! Overtime consisted of lots of stops and heart attacks. The breakaway challenge, or shootout, was fun because Couture and American hero, Joe Pavelski scored. Alex Stalock was able to stop Sharp and Toews. SAN JOSE ENDS LOSING STREAK AT THE UC! Details for a banner raising ceremony to be announced.

(if you'd like to stop reading and take a shower to get the stench of playoff failure off you, I'll understand.)

-Edmonton Oilers 5, Tampa Bay Lightning 3

-Anaheim Ducks 4, Vancouver Canucks 3 (OT): Apparently heavily outshooting the Canucks was just the thing to do in SoCal this weekend, because after being outshot 49-28 by the Kings the night before, they somehow did even worse in Anaheim, getting outshot 49-20. Yes, they gave up exactly forty-nine shots to both teams, that's kind of hilarious. Somehow this game went to overtime anyway, I guess because Jonas Hiller sucks, but Corey Perry ultimately got the Ducks the win with just two seconds left in overtime. Sure, whatever.

This Week in Standings

Team GP W L OTL Points ROW GF GA Diff Home Away Last Week
1. Anaheim 44 31 8 5 67 29 146 111 +35 17-0-2 14-8-3 3-0-0
2. San Jose 43 27 10 6 60 20 142 111 +31 15-1-3 12-9-3 2-2-0
3. Los Angeles 43 26 13 4 56 20 113 89 +24 14-5-2 12-8-2 1-3-0
4. Vancouver 44 23 13 8 54 21 117 108 +9 11-6-4 12-7-4 0-2-2
5. Phoenix 41 20 12 9 49 16 123 127 -4 11-5-3 9-7-6 1-2-0
6. Calgary 41 14 21 6 34 11 96 128 -32 7-11-3 7-10-3 0-2-0
7. Edmonton 45 14 26 5 33 12 117 156 -39 7-11-2 7-15-3 1-2-1

There was literally no movement in the standings this week. The Ducks remained on top with a perfect 3-0-0 week, and given that the rest of the division had weeks that ranged from average to crappy, they're starting to pull away. The Sharks went a very middling 2-2-0 to remain in 2nd, but are now seven points back of Anaheim with just a single game in hand. Meanwhile, the Kings of course had a pretty awful 1-3-0 week, but are at least still four points back of 2nd and tied in the ROW column. In fourth, the Canucks squandered an opportunity to really make up some ground on LA and climb back into the top three, as they went a dismal 0-2-2. Those two losses against the Flyers & Lightning at home really hurt given the West's dominance over the East and the difficult schedule they had following, and are now two points back of the Kings but with LA holding a game in hand on them.

Let's take a look at the Wild Card standings, maybe they're a little more interesting. Remember only the top two get in, blah blah blah.

Team GP W L OTL Points ROW GF GA Diff Home Away Last Week
1. Vancouver (P) 44 23 13 8 54 21 117 108 +9 11-6-4 12-7-4 0-2-2
2. Phoenix (P) 41 20 12 9 49 16 123 127 -4 11-5-3 9-7-6 1-2-0
3. Minnesota (C) 44 22 17 5 49 17 106 113 -7 16-5-2 6-12-3 2-1-0
4. Dallas (C) 41 20 14 7 47 17 120 124 -4 9-6-5 11-8-2 1-2-0
5. Winnipeg (C) 45 19 21 5 43 14 123 135 -12 10-8-4 9-13-1 1-3-0
6. Nashville (C) 43 18 19 6 42 17 102 129 -27 10-8-3 8-11-3 1-1-2
7. Calgary (P) 41 14 21 6 34 11 96 128 -32 7-11-3 7-10-3 0-2-0
8. Edmonton (P) 45 14 26 5 33 12 117 156 -39 7-11-2 7-15-3 1-2-1

Oh, okay, not really that much more interesting. Well anyway, Vancouver and Phoenix are still your two Wild Card teams. The Coyotes are holding on by just the skin of their teeth after another bad 1-2-0 week. The Wild had a good 2-1-0 week to climb over Dallas and actually tie Phoenix, which was the only movement in the standings, but they remain on the outside looking in due to Phoenix's three games in hand on them. The Stars took a step back this week following their recent surge, going 1-2-0 (so yes, beating us was their only win, sigh). They are still only two points behind the Yotes for the second Wild Card spot, so they still have plenty of time to turn things around there. The bottom-feeders all had weeks ranging from bad to awful (though 1-2-1 almost looks good on the Edmonton scale, and they've closed the gap on the Flames for not-last again!), so par for the course there. The Wild Card is looking like a three-team race at this point for the second spot, with whoever of the SJ/LA/Vancouver trio doesn't get the third Pacific spot likely having the top Wild Card locked up for the foreseeable future. Phoenix and Dallas both have a slight edge over Minnesota for that second spot due to the massive number of games Minnesota has played, and the #fancystats would definitely favor Dallas getting that spot, so we'll see how it all plays out over the second half of the season.

This Week in #fancystats

(all stats are total attempts, not percentages. thanks to extra skater. and after a week missing, 5v5 tied is back! rejoice, small sample size lovers!)

Blackhawks 1, Kings 0
Corsi: Kings 49-Blackhawks 45 (overall), Kings 44-Blackhawks 36 (5v5, 49.6 mins), Kings 36-Blackhawks 16 (5v5 close, 32.2 mins), Kings 9-Blackhawks 5 (5v5 tied, 7.1 mins)
Fenwick: Blackhawks 37-Kings 36 (overall), Kings 33-Blackhawks 28 (5v5, 49.6 mins), Kings 28-Blackhawks 13 (5v5 close, 32.2 mins), Kings 4-Blackhawks 4 (5v5 tied, 7.1 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: King (+14), Carter (+11), Kopitar (+10). Worst: Lewis/Stoll (tied, -5), Nolan/Clifford (tied, -4)

Stars 3, Kings 2
For some reason the ES page for this game is missing, so this game, like most of my memory of the night it was played on, will remain a mystery.

Blues 5, Kings 0
Corsi: Kings 70-Blues 42 (overall), Kings 49-Blues 29 (5v5, 42.5 mins), Kings 29-Blues 16 (5v5 close, 22.8 mins), Blues 2-Kings 0 (5v5 tied, 2.0 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 46-Blues 34 (overall), Kings 30-Blues 24 (5v5, 42.5 mins), Kings 20-Blues 11 (5v5 close, 22.8 mins), Blues 1-Kings 0 (5v5 tied, 2.0 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Nolan/Kopitar (tied, +12), Greene (+11). Worst: Richards/Williams/Brown/Stoll (tied, even)

Kings 3, Canucks 1
Corsi: Kings 74-Canucks 48 (overall), Kings 63-Canucks 33 (5v5, 46.2 mins), Kings 57-Canucks 29 (5v5 close, 39.6 mins), Kings 24-Canucks 17 (5v5 tied, 20.0 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 61-Canucks 39 (overall), Kings 52-Canucks 26 (5v5, 46.2 mins), Kings 47-Canucks 23 (5v5 close, 39.6 mins), Kings 19-Canucks 13 (5v5 tied, 20.0 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Voynov (+16), Williams/Mitchell (tied, +14). Worst: Martinez (even), Toffoli (+2), Richards (+4)

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 1/6 1/7 1/8 1/9 1/10 1/11 1/12
LA - vs.MIN (7:30) - vs.BOS (7:30) - vs.DET (7:30) -
ANA - vs.BOS (7:00) - @NSH (5:00) - @PHX (5:00) vs.DET (2:00)
SJ - @NSH (5:00) - vs.DET (7:30) - vs.BOS (7:30) -
VAN - vs.PIT (7:00) - - vs.STL (7:00) - -
PHX - vs.CGY (6:00) - vs.MIN (6:00) - vs.ANA (5:00) -
CGY @COL (6:00) @PHX (6:00) - vs.STL (6:00) - vs.PIT (7:00) -
EDM - vs.STL (6:30) - - vs.PIT (7:00) - @CHI (4:00)

The Kings are in the middle of a 5-game homestand that started with Vancouver on Saturday and, weirdly enough, also finishes with Vancouver next Monday. They'll host the up-and-down Wild tomorrow, one of the only two really good Eastern teams on Thursday, and then wrap up the week with the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. A pretty middling week, with only the Bruins standing out as really an elite team, but neither the Wings or the Wild are all that awful, either.

The Ducks will also host the Bruins on Tuesday in a game that could very well end their unbeaten-in-regulation-at-home streak to the test, hopefully. They'll then embark on a brief 2-game road trip through Nashville and Phoenix before returning home to face the Red Wings on Sunday, getting a team on the back half of a back-to-back with LA for like the umpteenth time this season. Lucky jerks.

San Jose finishes their own 3-game road trip tomorrow night in Nashville, before coming back to the SAP Center to also host the Wings & Bruins. The Canucks only have two games this week but both are against top-flight opposition, as the only other good team in the East comes into town tomorrow and then they host the Blues on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Coyotes will try to salvage something out of a 6-game homestand that's seen them go 1-2-0 so far. They've got Calgary tomorrow so that should be a good start at turning it around, but then they wrap it up with the Wild (who remember are tied with them for the second Wild Card spot so that's a pretty big game) and the Ducks.

It's Calgary's turn to play 3 games in 4 nights, as they'll be in Colorado tonight, Phoenix tomorrow, then come back home to host the Blues on Thursday. Ouch. After a single day off they're rewarded with the Penguins on Friday, so yeah, sucks to be them (as always). The Oilers also have a hilariously difficult week, hosting the Blues & Penguins and then finishing it up with the defending champs. Best of luck with that.

That's all for the first edition of 2014. Sharks fan run-in notwithstanding, hope you enjoyed it. See you next time.