This Week in Kings (11/11/13)

It was a quiet week in Los Angeles, featuring only two games, but the Kings won both of them! Yeah! Now let's lament the Kings'....terrible Veyte: playing in the Pacific Division.

I hereby solemnly swear that the only Vey pun I'll make in this article is right there in the summary (and only because I'm pretty sure no one else has said "Veyte" so far). If you really can't get enough of awful Vey puns, I do have the article for you however, so read on.

The good this week: the Kings were perfect! The bad: the Kings only played 2 games. The ugly: the Kings continue to play in the Pacific, which means despite being tied for 11th in the league overall, they're still somehow 5th in their own division. Let's take a deep dive into another week that was in this otherwordly collection of teams.....and also the Oilers.

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.)

-The big story in Los Angeles this week was MOAR INJURIES! That's right, after we lost Jeff Carter last week (leading to the call-ups of Toffoli & Vey), the injury list got even longer. First it was Jarrett Stoll & Matt Greene going down; here's a quote by Darryl Sutter on the status of all 3 from back on November 8th (Stoll is skating, Greene & Carter are not). Then Kyle Clifford was the latest to join the ranks of the walking wounded, leaving the 5-1 drubbing of Vancouver on Saturday in the 1st period, apparently due to a blow to the head. A short article in yesterday's LA Times provided more information, though not much. Stoll has officially returned to practice, Greene's injury is still just "an undisclosed injury" (we don't even get upper- or lower-body now?!), and there was nothing in there about Carter or Clifford's respective statuses at all. The LA Kings: making the Cold War-era Soviet Union look like a model in transparency.

-BREAKING NEWS: Jonathan Quick has had a really bad 2013 (well, not counting playoffs at least). Okay, so that's not really breaking nor is it news, but I wanted to link to Nick's amazingly comprehensive article on it, just in case you're the one remaining person on the planet who hasn't read it yet. And that includes Jonathan Quick, who probably had it bookmarked. IN HIS BRAIN. Which he used as motivation to blank the Sabres and almost blank the Canucks. If he starts sliding again Nick already has a follow-up article planned, "Jonathan Quick: Bad Parent or Worst Parent?". (I am kidding, his daughter was adorable and totally stole the show during that press conference. I love you Jonathan.)

-The month has changed over from October to November, which is bad news if you're a San Jose Sharks fan, because they began losing almost immediately. Even scoring goals in overtime (twice!) wasn't enough for them to win, amazingly. Other than all the losing though, it was tough to find much of anything going on in northern California this week.

-In Anaheim there was also a similar dearth of news, so you'll have to make do with this debate: are the suddenly-first-place-Ducks "for real"? Former Anaheim Calling editor turned Puck Daddy contributor Jen Neale says no, while the current AC says.....maybe? They're probably a lot closer to "for real" than last year's Ducks were, at any rate.

-If you're feeling down about all those Kings injuries we mentioned earlier, well, you shouldn't considering it lead to the call-ups of Toffoli & Vey and those dudes rule, but let's pretend you are for a second. How about similar injury problems of a major Kings rival, does that cheer you up? The Coyotes are dealing with injuries to scoring winger Radim Vrbata and noted jerk defenseman Derek Morris, with each going down in back-to-back games.

-Hey, what's happening with the Vancouver Canucks? Well, a quick check of Nucks Misconduct at least gives you some "with the benefit of hindsight...." hilarity: their Canucks-Kings preview was titled "Prepare for the coup of the century!". Maybe in Canada "coup" actually means "fall down on our own dumb faces", in which case that was an accurate prediction. I'm using this space for mockery because, much like the Sharks & Ducks, it's tough to find any real news for them. Unusually quiet week.

-Oh, you know that whole "unusually quiet week" thing I just typed like two seconds ago? No one told the teams in Alberta, apparently. The Flames & Oilers consummated a rare trade this week, and then the Oilers immediately turned around and signed Ilya Bryzgalov. First, the trade: veteran defenseman Ladislav Smid and goalie prospect Olivier Roy were traded to Calgary for young center Roman Horak (probably a fourth liner at best, and an undersized one at that) and goalie prospect Laurent Brossoit. How did the notoriously cranky Oil blogosphere react to their team trading yet another useful defenseman for demonstrably inferior pieces (see also: Gilbert, Tom)? Uh, not well, let's just say. The Bryz signing was met with a little more positivity, mostly because it's just for the remainder of this season. And yes, the overall tone of that article is "hey maybe this isn't a TOTAL disaster!", which is still more positive than "OH GOD WHY ARE THE OILERS". Meanwhile, Flames fans are quite happy with their new defenseman, thank you very much.

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, November 4th

-Anaheim Ducks 2, New York Rangers 1: The Ducks finished off their 8-game Eastern road trip in style with a 2-1 win over a hot Rangers team (this game was their only loss in their last 7 games). Corey Perry scored just 2:29 into the 1st, and Kyle Palmieri added his fourth of the season 9 minutes into the same frame, and that was all the Ducks needed to win this one. Rookie goalie Frederik Andersen allowed just 1 goal on 33 shots, impressively outdueling the most consistent goalie of the past decade (Henrik allowed 2 on 25), and the Ducks walked out of the Garden with yet another victory.

Tuesday, November 5th

-Edmonton Oilers 4, Florida Panthers 3 (OT): Hey an Oilers win! Was this just a one off against another really, really bad team or the start of the Oilers turning their season around? STAY TUNED!

-Minnesota Wild 5, Calgary Flames 1

-Phoenix Coyotes 3, Vancouver Canucks 2 (SO): The Coyotes continued their string of dominance in the shootout that goes back several seasons with a huge divisional win at home over the Canucks. Mike Smith and Roberto Luongo were both good in this one, each stopping more than 30 shots, but it was Smith who edged Luongo in the skills competition, stopping 5 of 6 (to Luongo's 4 of 6) to earn Phoenix the victory.

-Buffalo Sabres 5, San Jose Sharks 4 (SO): No, you weren't dreaming, this really happened. The Sharks lost to the Sabres. Well, kinda. This was the first of two overtime goals the Sharks would score this week that didn't end up counting. Tommy Wingels almost certainly scored to beat the Sabres in overtime, but inexplicably it was never reviewed by the NHL in Toronto, and the Sabres went on to win the game in the shootout. My heart just breaks for you San Jose, really it does.

Wednesday, November 6th

-Anaheim Ducks 5, Phoenix Coyotes 2: After their highly successful road trip, the Ducks came home and beat the red-hot Coyotes rather easily. Phoenix was riding high on a five-game winning streak entering this game, but in a double blow they not only lost on the scoreboard by a big margin, but also lost top six forward Radim Vrbata to a lower-body injury during this game as well.

Thursday, November 7th

-Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Edmonton Oilers 2: Well there's your answer RE: "was the win in south Florida a turning point?!", I guess.

-St. Louis Blues 3, Calgary Flames 2: Meanwhile, the other Alberta team was at least competitive against one of the best teams in the NHL. The Flames went into St. Louis and fell behind 3-0 less than six minutes into the 2nd period, but almost completed an improbable 3rd period comeback. Tim Jackman scored 4:41 into the 3rd and ex-King Mike Cammalleri reduced the deficit to one 14:49 into the same frame, but the Flames were ultimately unable to finish the job. Still, an impressive showing in the 3rd by a Flames team that continues to be resilient, if nothing else.

-Los Angeles Kings 2, Buffalo Sabres 0: Hey, finally a Kings game to talk about! As mentioned already, the Kings had just 2 games this week, and they won them both in almost exactly opposite fashion. In this game, the Kings continued to struggle at generating 5v5 offense, but their power play more than picked up the slack. Mike Richards & Anze Kopitar, who a few weeks ago were freaking everyone the eff out with their lack of goal scoring, each picked up their fourth goals of the season, both on the power play. And that was all the offense the Kings would need in this one, as the one consistent factor in both Kings games this week was Jonathan Quick. He slammed the door shut on a Buffalo team that came in with more fight than one might expect, given their record (perhaps due to a boost in confidence after their win in San Jose? or probably just long overdue to have some not-completely-terrible games, I guess), stopping all 19 shots he faced. His greatest workload came in the 1st, where the Sabres nearly dominated the Kings in scoring chances (8-3 overall, 8-2 at evens), but were unable to get a single puck past Quick, leaving the door open for Richards' PPG with just 36 seconds left in the period. The Kings were much better defensively for the next two periods, limiting the Sabres to just a combined 7 scoring chances (5 at evens), wrapping up a big bounce-back win from last week's depressing Nashville game. (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)

-Vancouver Canucks 4, San Jose Sharks 2: The Canucks entered the Shark Tank winless against the host team for almost two years. The last time Vancouver beat San Jose, it was January 21st of 2012. The Kings were still Cupless, Mitt Romney still thought he might have a shot at the US Presidency, and the NHL's latest pointless lockout was still almost eight months away. How did the Canucks finally break through? Well, it certainly helped that Anti Niemi was awful, allowing 4 goals on just 13 shots before he was pulled 5 minutes into the 2nd period. Alex Stalock, a man I knew so little about that I thought his first name was actually "Anton" for some reason, came in and stopped all 21 shots he faced, but it didn't end up mattering, as the Canucks held on for an elusive victory over the team that swept them out of the 2013 playoffs.

Friday, November 8th

-Colorado Avalanche 4, Calgary Flames 2: Remember how I said last week the Avalanche are due to regress? Well, they still are, but it sure as hell didn't happen this week.

-Anaheim Ducks 6, Buffalo Sabres 2: After beating the Sharks in San Jose and being surprisingly competitive in Los Angeles, the Ducks welcomed the Sabres back down to earth.

Saturday, November 9th

-Philadelphia Flyers 4, Edmonton Oilers 2: And here's the exclamation point on that whole "the Oilers' win over Florida was an aberration and not the start of a turnaround" thing. The Flyers had scored 2 goals in their prior 4 games combined, and had been shutout at home for a club-record 175:22 straight minutes (back-to-back shutout losses to Washington & New Jersey, neither exactly powerhouses this year, will do that). Claude Giroux hadn't scored a goal yet in the season; in fact, he had gone 21 straight games without scoring if you include last year, easily his own "record" as well. But nothing busts your negative streaks like playing the Edmonton Oilers, I guess, because Giroux finally potted a goal and the Flyers scored 2 goals in the 1st period alone. We should cancel science in school and just study the Oilers instead.

-Phoenix Coyotes 4, Washington Capitals 3 (SO): Yawn, another game, another shootout win for the Yotes. The Capitals entered the 3rd period leading 3-1, only to watch the Coyotes storm back on the strength of two late goals just 1:40 apart. Lauri Korpikoski & Shane Doan scored at 16:34 and 18:14 of the 3rd, respectively, and the Yotes capped the comeback with a shootout victory.

-Los Angeles Kings 5, Vancouver Canucks 1: And now the yang of this week's yin and yang for the Kings. LA's red-hot power play was kept entirely off the scoreboard against the Canucks (and in fact only generated 2 chances with the man advantage in the game), but no problem, because that elusive 5v5 scoring finally showed up in a big way. It all started with rookie Linden Vey totally undressing former LA perennial healthy scratch Brad Richardson, setting up Jordan Nolan for his third goal of the season 12:23 into the 1st, and the Kings would add four more en route to a big win. The margin is probably a little flattering to the Kings in this one, as the Canucks outchanced the Kings 9-5 in the 1st, but just like in the Buffalo game Jonathan Quick slammed the door shut on the opposition when it mattered the most. The Canucks would generate just 4 scoring chances in the remaining two periods, and though a Dan Hamhuis slapper through a screen in the 2nd did rob Quick of his second straight shutout, nothing else got past him. The Kings also responded to that lone Canucks goal in a big way: Mike Richards scored just 1:08 later to quickly regain their two-goal lead, and two more goals were added within 2:33 of Richards' tally to put the game virtually out of reach. It certainly helped the Kings' cause that John Tortorella decided to keep the Sedins on the bench in the 3rd, probably to keep them rested for the following evening's game in Anaheim, and they ended up skating just two shifts in the entire period. Regardless, the Kings picked up a huge win over a division rival that was just coming off a pretty enormous victory of their own in San Jose, closing out a very successful, if short, 2-0 week. Oh hey by the way, if you've really missed the lack of Vey puns in this article, check out Nick's grades & analysis and be prepared.....for PAIN. (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)

Sunday, November 10th

-Chicago Blackhawks 5, Edmonton Oilers 4: It was a wild night at the Madhouse, as the Oilers, who almost inexplicably seem to play the Blackhawks tough every season, temporarily forgot they were really terrible. They actually briefly lead this game 2-1 in the 2nd before Andrew Shaw tied it 17:18 into the period, came back and tied it again 3-3 after the Hawks took their second lead of the game, but then fell behind again 5-3. Jordan Eberle scored a late shorthanded goal with 1:28 left to play, but the Oilers were ultimately unable to get even and fell to the reiging champs in regulation.

-Winnipeg Jets 5, San Jose Sharks 4 (SO): So here was the Sharks' second overtime goal of the week that didn't end up winning them the game, and even more bizarrely, it involved the same player! Patrick Marleau appeared to give the Sharks the victory, but Tommy Wingels was ruled to have a ridiculous name and the goal was disallowed (okay, actually he pretty clearly interfered with Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec). Just as the Sabres did, the Jets then won the game in the shootout. At least this goal had a reason for not counting, I guess.

-Anaheim Ducks 3, Vancouver Canucks 1: So much for that whole "save the Sedins for Anaheim!" strategy.

This Week in Standings

Team GP W L OTL Points ROW GF GA Diff Home Away Last Week
1. Anaheim 19 15 3 1 31 14 66 45 +21 8-0-0 7-3-1 4-0-0
2. Phoenix 18 12 4 2 26 8 60 56 +4 8-0-1 4-4-1 2-1-0
3. San Jose 17 10 2 5 25 9 63 41 +22 5-1-2 5-1-3 0-1-2
4. Vancouver 20 11 7 2 24 10 54 54 E 4-3-0 7-4-2 1-2-1
5. Los Angeles 17 11 6 0 22 7 50 41 +9 7-3-0 4-3-0 2-0-0
6. Calgary 17 6 9 2 14 6 47 61 -14 3-2-1 3-7-1 0-3-0
7. Edmonton 19 4 13 2 10 3 48 75 -27 1-5-0 3-8-2 1-3-0

Some major movement at the top of the standings this week. San Jose finally dropped out of first place, which tends to happen when you play 3 games and lose all of them (though they continued to at least pick up points in 2 of their 3 losses). They fell all the way down to 3rd, in fact. The Anaheim Ducks were obviously the big winners, going a perfect 4-0-0 to move from 2nd to 1st. The Phoenix Coyotes also moved up from 3rd to 2nd on the strength of their own 2-1-0 week, though both their wins did come in the shootout so their ROW column wasn't helped out at all. The Sharks are still only 1 point behind the Coyotes with a game in hand on them, but 6 points back of 1st even with 2 games in hand on the Ducks is a remarkable turnaround from a team that looked to be comfortably entrenched at the top just a few short weeks ago.

After those top three seeds, there was no other movement in the standings. I said last week that Vancouver's schedule (four games, all on the road, and all against the other elite Pacific teams of PHX, SJ, LA, and ANA) was incredibly tough, and that they should take a .500 record as a victory. Well, they came close, but couldn't quite get 4 points, going 1-2-1 instead. That was still enough for them to keep a hold on the fourth seed and more importantly a Wild Card spot in the West, for now at least. Our Kings went a perfect 2-0-0 in their short week, and are now just 2 points behind the Canucks with 3 games in hand on them. They're also within striking distance of a top 3 seed in the Pacific: 3 points behind the Sharks for 3rd, 4 points behind the Coyotes for 2nd (with a game in hand on them). It is a little discouraging to see 1st in the division quickly becoming a pipe dream again, but there's no way Anaheim can maintain this pace forever, right? Right?!

As far as the bottom of the standings goes, it was another rough week in Alberta. The Flames had a tough schedule (Minnesota, St. Louis, and Colorado, all on the road) and were competitive in a couple of those games, but ultimately had nothing to show for it, going 0-3-0 on the week to finally fall below .500 (and 8 points out of 5th place). The Oilers at least got a win this week, but still only went 1-3-0 on their own road trip. At least they're within 4 points of the Flames now in what's quickly become the all-Alberta battle to not finish last in the division, though Calgary does have 2 games in hand on them.

This Week in #fancystats

(all stats are total attempts, not percentages. thanks to extra skater)

Kings 2, Sabres 0

Corsi: Kings 52-Sabres 33 (overall), Kings 32-Sabres 27 (5v5, 43.1 mins), Sabres 19-Kings 17 (5v5 close, 24.8 mins), Kings 12-Sabres 10 (5v5 tied, 15.6 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 41-Sabres 25 (overall), Kings 24-Sabres 19 (5v5, 43.1 mins), Kings 14-Sabres 11 (5v5 close, 24.8 mins), Kings 9-Sabres 8 (5v5 tied, 15.6 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Brown/Regehr (tied, +8), Kopitar (+7). Worst: Vey/Nolan/Muzzin (tied, -4).

Kings 5, Canucks 1

Corsi: Kings 59-Canucks 49 (overall), Kings 49-Canucks 42 (5v5, 50.1 mins), Kings 22-Canucks 20 (5v5 close, 19.3 mins), Kings 17-Canucks 15 (5v5 tied, 12.4 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 44-Canucks 40 (overall), Kings 36-Canucks 34 (5v5, 50.1 mins), Canucks 17-Kings 16 (5v5 close, 19.3 mins), Canucks 13-Kings 12 (5v5 tied, 12.4 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Muzzin/Doughty (tied, +5), Nolan/Martinez/Richards/Brown (tied, +4). Worst: Clifford/Voynov (tied, -3), Toffoli (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.)

Team 11/11 11/12 11/13 11/14 11/15 11/16 11/17
LA - @BUF (4:00) - @NYI (4:00) @NJ (4:00) - @NYR (4:00)
ANA - @FLA (4:30) - @TB (4:30) @CAR (4:00) - -
PHX - @STL (5:00) - @CHI (5:00) - vs.TB (5:00) -
SJ - @CGY (6:00) - @VAN (7:00) @EDM (7:00) - @CHI (4:00)
VAN - - - vs.SJ (7:00) - - vs.DAL (5:00)
CGY - vs.SJ (6:00) - vs.DAL (6:00) - vs.EDM (7:00) -
EDM - - vs.DAL (7:00) - vs.SJ (7:00) @CGY (7:00) -

Okay, here's a little oddity for you: as I'm typing this right now, in the middle of the afternoon on Monday, all of today's NHL action has come and gone. That's right, the only NHL game on Veteran's Day was a 10 am Pacific encounter between Boston and Tampa Bay, won by the Bruins and lost by the Lightning (who, uh, also lost Steven Stamkos to a horrific-looking leg injury- just as I was about to post this, news came in that it's a broken right tibia- so not a great day for them). Wednesday almost comes close to equaling Monday's total lack of Pacific action, as the only game involving these 7 teams is the lowly Oilers hosting the Dallas Stars. So make some plans to get out of the house tonight and/or Wednesday, I guess.

I didn't even need to look up the LA Kings' schedule this week, because I've had that Thursday-Saturday stretch circled on my calendar (well, okay, not really, but if I actually owned a physical calendar I would!) since the day the schedule came out. That's because the Kings' 4-game Eastern road trip this week takes them right into my neck of the woods, and of course I'll be in attendance for all three games (my first time seeing them live since Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, in fact). With the personal interest out of the way, the Kings obviously need to use this week's schedule to make up some ground in the Pacific. The Sabres are truly awful. The Islanders have been circling the drain, having lost 4 straight games, and may be without Thomas Vanek (who has scored all of 1 goal since the Moulson trade, it must be noted) after he left their loss to Columbus on Saturday with an upper-body injury. The Devils have picked things up a little bit of late, going 2-0-1 in their last 3 (including a 5-0 drubbing of the Nashville Predators on Sunday), but are still sitting below .500 at 5-7-5 on the season. The biggest threat of the week may be the Rangers, who as I mentioned earlier have won 6 of their last 7. Even when they were real bad when they opened up their season on their 9-game road trip, one of their very few wins came in Los Angeles, so hopefully the Kings can pay them back in Manhattan on Sunday (and did I mention I'll be in attendance?!? AHHH I'M SO EXCITED!!!).

The Ducks will also be road trippin' through the East this week, playing 3 games on a 4-game road trip that ends next Monday in Pittsburgh. Florida is so bad that they actually lost to the Edmonton Oilers last week, and the Hurricanes are sitting below .500 and are without goalie Cam Ward for roughly the 500th time or so. The Lightning had been off to a fast start this year, but uh, see above about Steven Stamkos and his horrific injury today. Yeah. This could very easily be another perfect week for those bastards.

Phoenix, meanwhile, will also play the presumably-Stamkos-less Lightning, but that comes after two games on the road against powerhouses St. Louis & Chicago. San Jose will look to turn things around with a four-game road trip this week that takes them through Western Canada, and given that includes games against Edmonton & Calgary one would assume they have a great chance to do so (but they did just lose to Buffalo & Winnipeg this week, so who the hell knows I guess). They'll also get a chance to reassert their dominance over the Canucks, before concluding their week in Chicago.

Speaking of those Canucks, they take the Kings' place as this week's recipients of a light schedule. They'll have off until Thursday when they host the Sharks, then get another two days off before the Dallas Stars come into town. It's the start of a 6-game homestand for them spread out over the next three weeks, as they won't play another road game until November 28th in Ottawa.

Down in Alberta, the Flames have a 3-game homestand of their own this week, hosting the Sharks & Stars before the Oilers come into town on Saturday. That's right, Hockey Night in Canada viewers this week will be treated to Edmonton vs. Calgary: The Battle for Not-Last Place! Enjoy! Before the Oilers head off for that fateful encounter, they've got home dates against the Sharks & Stars as well.

That's all for now in another week in the Pacific. See you next week.

More from Jewels From The Crown: