This Week in Kings (11/4/13)

Our weekly recap of everything Kings and the Pacific Division has moved to Mondays, so this week you get eight days for the price of seven! YEAH!

So as I mentioned in my Kings-Preds recap yesterday, This Week in Kings is moving from Sundays to Mondays. According to the traffic stats, a great many of you who chose to brave this monstrosity tended to be reading it Monday morning/afternoon at work. So it made no sense to continue posting it on Sunday when I could post it Monday and not have it be slightly out-of-date, y'know?

This week will actually cover eight days (from Sunday 10/27 through yesterday), and then we'll simply go Monday to Monday from now on.

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.)

-Obviously the big news this week was the mysterious injury to Jeff Carter and subsequent call-ups of Toffoli & Vey from Manchester. We've since heard that Carter's injury was a nagging foot issue of some kind, but it remains unclear how long he'll actually be out for. At the time the news broke Sutter seemed particularly annoyed that it got out, supposedly before he was even actually told about it, so who knows what that was about. Meanwhile, calling up Tyler & Linden required putting Keaton Ellerby on waivers, and he was claimed by Winnipeg. This isn't a huge loss since he had yet to play a single game with the Kings this season (and barring a severe round of injuries, was unlikely to get into a game anytime soon either), but it's still worth noting of course.

-The Kings also had some more injury news this week, as Jarrett Stoll left Saturday night's game against Nashville early in the 2nd period and did not return. According to Darryl Sutter, Stoll's injury is a nagging upper-body issue and he's day-to-day. By pointing out that the Kings don't play again until Thursday, Sutter at least sounded somewhat optimistic that Stoll could be ready by then. We'll see.

-This isn't really news per say, but I'd like to point you to this excellent Kings power rankings Eric wrote a few days ago. October came to an end last week, so Eric decided to rank the entire Kings roster's performances so far. Good stuff.

-Meanwhile in San Jose it was all good news for those jerks. Dan Boyle returned to the lineup after missing 7 games due to Max Lapierre being a crazy person, and Tomas Hertl was named NHL's rookie of the month. Booooooooooo.

-Down in Orange County, it was a bad week to be a Finnish senior citizen. First Saku Koivu was knocked out of the Columbus game by a Brandon Dubinsky hit (that he got ejected for even though he likely shouldn't have), and returned home for tests. Apparently he's been symptom-free for at least a few days and has resumed skating, so he should be back with the team soon. His heterosexual life partner Teemu Selanne joined him on the sidelines a few days later, as he took an errant high stick from Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn and is out a few weeks after having oral surgery.

-Not much news out of Phoenix this week, so here's a vaguely embarrassing story about the team's marketing Canada. Yep. There's some throwaway line in there about trying to convert Canadian hockey fans into Coyotes fans (lol), but really what they're doing is openly courting fans of Canadian teams to c'mon down and take over their own building.

-In Vancouver the big story of the week was the Sedin twins signing matching 4-year, $28 million dollar extensions. This was a great deal by the Canucks and GM Mike Gillis, as he somehow got the twins to sign for less than they would likely get on the open market ($7 million a year isn't chump change, but one has to assume they could have gotten at least $8 million as UFAs) and also for less term than most superstar players are getting nowadays. The deal only takes them until they're 37, when their production likely will fall off even further, so the Canucks were smart not to sign a deal for 6 or 7 years that would have gotten them even closer to 40 (and I'm a little surprised the Sedins didn't demand that, to be honest). Also noteworthy from the press conference was Canucks head coach John Tortorella heaping praise on the twins and giving a pretty hilarious takedown of the idiots who call them "soft". He's clearly become a huge fan of theirs after only a very short time with the team, which makes sense given that they're really great and all.

-Sticking with Vancouver for a second, the team retired Hall of Famer Pavel Bure's jersey before Saturday night's game against the Leafs. You can check out video footage from the ceremony here. If you grew up with Pavel in the NHL like I did, this was pretty neat.

-In the midst of yet another miserable week of losing, the Edmonton Oilers did at least get some positive injury news. Sam Gagner was medically cleared to return from his jaw injury early in the week, and yesterday news broke that Taylor Hall would be back from his own knee injury within a week as well. Obviously the Oilers need all the help they can get right now, as their season is already circling the drain here in early November.

-On the other side of Alberta, the injury news wasn't nearly as good. After missing four games, the Flames finally revealed that captain Mark Giordano would be out six-to-eight weeks with an ankle injury he suffered in Calgary's game against the Kings. Forward Lee Stempinak is also out with a broken foot and is listed as "week-to-week".

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.)

Sunday, October 27th

-San Jose Sharks 5, Ottawa Senators 2

-Anaheim Ducks 4, Columbus Blue Jackets 3: This game had the aforementioned Dubinsky hit that put Koivu on the shelf. Dubinsky got a five minute major for a hit that honestly didn't look that bad (and he received no supplemental discipline for it after the game), and the Ducks broke a 2-2 tie early in the 3rd on that power play when SoCal native Emerson Etem scored his second goal of the season. They were unable to score anymore goals on the remaining 2:36 of power play time, however, and that allowed Columbus to tie things up about seven minutes later on an Artem Anisimov deflection. But the Ducks would ultimately have the last laugh, as that jerk Corey Perry scored an unassisted goal with less than two-and-a-half minutes left in regulation to put the Ducks on top for good.

-Los Angeles Kings 2, Edmonton Oilers 1 (SO): The Kings pumped 48 shots on the Oilers and somehow only scored one goal. If you're asking "how is that even possible?", the answer is "Richard Bachman". Bachman, the Oilers' recently called-up third-string goalie, did the same thing to the Kings he did as a member of the Dallas Stars in the past: totally stone them. So while the Oilers had a laughably bad game against the Kings on LEGENDS NIGHT~, being outshot, out-possessed, and generally outplayed all over the ice, they managed to at least get a pity point out of the whole deal, thanks almost solely to Mr. Bachman. Thankfully the Kings got the job done in the skills competition yet again to seal a win they almost certainly deserved to take down in regulation. Not a whole lot else to say about this one, really, other than I guess "the Oilers are really, really bad at hockey." (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)

Monday, October 28th

-Vancouver Canucks 3, Washington Capitals 2

Tuesday, October 29th

-Anaheim Ducks 3, Philadelphia Flyers 2: IT'S A 3-2 LEAGUE! YEAHHHHHH! Also whoops there go Teemu's teeth.

-Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Edmonton Oilers 0: Man, I'd hate to hear what Edmonton school children had to say after this one.

-Phoenix Coyotes 3, Los Angeles Kings 1: The Kings didn't really play an awful game in Phoenix, out-chancing the Coyotes 20-15 overall and 16-10 at evens, but they were unable to find an answer for Mike Smith until it barely mattered (and it's also worth noting that by far their best period in scoring chances was the 3rd, when they were already trailing by 3 goals for most of it). The Coyotes, on the other hand, took advantage of- stop me if you've heard this one before- bad Kings penalties, scored two goals late in the 2nd (including a heartbreaker with just six seconds left in the period) and ultimately put things out of reach with a Kyle Chipchura tip-in about five-and-a-half minutes into the third. The Kings also wasted a strong performance from backup Ben Scrivens, which is always disheartening. On the plus side, this loss appeared to be the main catalyst behind the break-up of Doughty/Regehr and reuniting of Doughty-Muzzin, so at least something good came out of it. (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)

Wednesday, October 30th

-Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Calgary Flames 2

-Detroit Red Wings 2, Vancouver Canucks 1

-Los Angeles Kings 4, San Jose Sharks 3 (OT): This game had "potential disaster" written all over it. It was night 2 of a back-to-back and the third game in four nights for the Kings, against a fresh San Jose team who were waiting for the Kings in LA and hadn't played since their thorough dismantling of a struggling Ottawa team on Sunday. And OH YEAH BY THE WAY the Sharks were also the best team in the NHL too. So when the Sharks scored just thirteen seconds into the game (before I had even turned it on, in fact!), I think pretty much every Kings fan on the planet had the same "uh-oh" reaction. But thankfully for us, the Kings, in a game where they had every excuse to roll over and die, did the exact opposite, battling back from three separate one-goal deficits to ultimately win the game in overtime. As I mentioned above, the Doughty/Muzzin pairing was put back together in this game and they were dominant, with both men putting up among the best Corsi numbers on the team. This game didn't have very many scoring chances or shots for either team, as both teams played it extremely tight to the vest (which probably worked more into LA's favor than SJ's, honestly). But it was the last chance for the Kings that was most important, as Anze Kopitar scored a huge power play goal in overtime to give the Kings a gutsy win over their eternal California rivals. (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)

Thursday, October 31st

-Boston Bruins 3, Anaheim Ducks 2 (SO)

-Phoenix Coyotes 5, Nashville Predators 4 (SO): A very strange final score for a Phoenix-Nashville game, no? Although to be fair to Phoenix, they've been a better offensive club all season so far than I think most would expect, averaging 3.27 goals per game, good enough for 5th in the entire league (!!!); even at just 5v5, they're still scoring 2.94 goals per 60 mins, which is....still exactly 5th. Their 9.7 shooting percentage is 3rd in the league and probably a little high, however, but they are generating 30.3 shots per 60 minutes (8th place), so even with an expected regression in their shooting percentage, they might actually just be a better offensive team than I think anyone was expecting. (The Kings, if you're curious, are generating 31.9 shots per 60 minutes at 5v5, good for 4th in the league, but they're only shooting at a dismal 5.5% at evens right now, hence their much worse 5v5 goals per 60 mins of 1.74, ranking them 24th. Yikes. That should improve though.)

Friday, November 1st

-Detroit Red Wings 4, Calgary Flames 3

Saturday, November 2nd

-Anaheim Ducks 6, Buffalo Sabres 3

-Vancouver Canucks 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 0: After having their way with Edmonton & Alberta, the Leafs finally had to play the good Western Canadian team, and went down pretty easily. There was a lot in the Canadian press about the Leafs getting their "first real test in a while" after playing a lot of soft competition, and if this was a test, they failed in spectacular fashion. The Canucks outshot the Leafs 47-21, and the game could have been even more lopsided if not for Leafs backup James Reimer's sterling 43-save performance. Oh, and that lopsided shot count? It started out with the Canucks getting the first eleven shots of the game. ELEVEN. Ouch.

-Detroit Red Wings 5, Edmonton Oilers 0: Speaking of embarrassing shot counts, somehow the Oilers only managed fourteen shots against the Red Wings in the entire game. Our old pal Richard Bachman got the start and gave up 2 goals on the first 9 shots against, leading to another old friend coming in- Jason LaBarbera- who allowed 3 more goals on another 22 shots. Every time you think the Oilers have reached their absolute nadir, they continue to find new and interesting ways to prove you wrong.

-Nashville Predators 4, Los Angeles Kings 3: I really have to write about this game again, huh? Okay, for those of you who missed it, the quick-and-dirty version: the Kings controlled play throughout (by an even greater margin than they did in the loss against Phoenix, although it's always worth remembering score effects and all that), fell behind early to the Predators, battled back to tie the game in the 3rd period with 2 quick goals, and then lost the game late in regulation anyway on a terrible rebound by their supposedly star goaltender. Quick, to put it frank, sucked in this game, and was really the only reason the Kings didn't get at least a point out of this one (and they probably should have gotten 2). There were lots of positives to take away from it: Tyler Toffoli looked great in his season debut, the new D-pairings all looked pretty solid, etc. But the big negative was Jonathan Quick, who with this 4-goals-on-17-shots loss fell to a below-.900 sv% for the season. Simply put, he has to be better. (recap) (grades & analysis) (gamethread)

-Phoenix Coyotes 3, San Jose Sharks 2 (SO): The Sharks lost to the Yotes in a shootout, somehow, despite pumping 50 shots on goalie Mike Smith. Okay, sure.

Sunday, November 3rd

-Calgary Flames 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2 (OT): 26-year-old rookie goaltender Reto Berra had a hell of an NHL debut, stopping 42-of-44 shots against the reigning champs in their own rink, and allowing the Flames to ultimately steal it in overtime on a slap shot from Kris Russell.

This Week in Standings

Team GP W L OTL Points ROW GF GA Diff Home Away Last Week
1. San Jose 14 10 1 3 23 9 53 27 +26 5-0-1 5-1-2 1-0-2
2. Anaheim 15 11 3 1 23 10 50 39 +11 5-0-0 6-3-1 3-0-1
3. Phoenix 15 10 3 2 22 8 51 46 +5 6-0-1 4-3-1 3-0-0
4. Vancouver 16 10 5 1 21 9 46 41 +5 4-3-0 6-2-1 2-1-0
5. Los Angeles 15 9 6 0 18 5 43 40 +3 5-3-0 4-3-0 2-2-0
6. Calgary 14 6 6 2 14 6 42 49 -7 3-2-1 3-4-1 1-2-0
7. Edmonton 15 3 10 2 8 2 36 59 -23 1-5-0 2-5-2 0-2-1

I've decided to replace the "Streak" column with "Last Week" instead, as that's more relevant to the purposes of this column and also just more interesting in general.

There was a little movement at the top of the standings. Vancouver had a pretty good 2-1-0 week and still fell two spots, from second to fourth, simply because the Ducks & the Coyotes both had weeks that were that much better (3-0-1 and 3-0-0, respectively). Both teams moved up one spot from last week, and the Ducks in fact moved into a tie with San Jose (though the Sharks have a game in hand). The Coyotes are only one point behind them, creating a virtual logjam at the top of the Pacific. The Sharks finally had a week where they lost more games than they won, but thanks to the Bettman Point still got 4 out of a possible 6 points to remain in first for at least one more week. The Kings had a very middling .500 week and remained in fifth, though still only five points out of first place. Meanwhile, it wasn't a good week at all for either Alberta team, as the Flames went 1-2-0 to continue falling back from the rest of the Pacific pack. And the Oilers, well, just kept on losing and burying themselves even further into the Pacific basement.

This Week in #fancystats

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

Kings 2, Oilers 1 (SO)

Corsi: Kings 79-Oilers 32 (overall), Kings 59-Oilers 21 (5v5 & 5v5 close, 44.0 mins), Kings 50-Oilers 18 (5v5 tied, 37.4 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 61-Oilers 25 (overall), Kings 49-Oilers 16 (5v5 & 5v5 close, 44.0 mins), Kings 42-Oilers 14 (5v5 tied, 37.4 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Muzzin (+18), Greene (+17), Richards (+16). Worst: Fraser/Nolan (tied, -2), Clifford (even).

Coyotes 3, Kings 1

Corsi: Kings 76-Coyotes 56 (overall), Kings 65-Coyotes 39 (5v5, 46.3 mins), Kings 38-Coyotes 27 (5v5 close, 28.3 mins), Kings 38-Coyotes 27 (5v5 tied, 27.8 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 58-Coyotes 42 (overall), Kings 49-Coyotes 30 (5v5, 46.3 mins), Kings 33-Coyotes 20 (5v5 close, 28.3 mins), Kings 33-Coyotes 20 (5v5 tied, 27.8 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Greene (+14), Williams (+13), Stoll/King/Muzzin (tied, +11). Worst: Richards (+1), Frattin (+2), Carter (+3)

Kings 4, Sharks 3 (SO)

Corsi: Kings 63-Sharks 39 (overall), Kings 44-Sharks 25 (5v5, 46.0 mins), Kings 36-Sharks 21 (5v5 close, 35.9 mins), Kings 23-Sharks 15 (5v5 tied, 24.9 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 46-Sharks 32 (overall), Kings 30-Sharks 20 (5v5, 46.0 mins), Kings 25-Sharks 16 (5v5 close, 35.9 mins), Kings 16-Sharks 12 (5v5 tied, 24.9 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Muzzin/Voynov (tied, +11), Doughty (+10). Worst: Greene (-2), Carcillo (even), Mitchell/Stoll/Fraser (tied, +2)

Predators 4, Kings 3

Corsi: Kings 78-Predators 35 (overall), Kings 68-Predators 31 (5v5, 50.5 mins), Kings 30-Predators 21 (5v5 close, 27.6 mins), Kings 18-Predators 13 (5v5 tied, 15.1 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 56-Predators 27 (overall), Kings 48-Predators 23 (5v5, 50.5 mins), Kings 19-Predators 17 (5v5 close, 27.6 mins), Predators 10-Kings 9 (5v5 tied, 15.1 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Doughty (+25, not a typo), Muzzin (+22), Kopitar (+19). Worst: Fraser/Greene (tied, -4), Mitchell (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. also please remember the table now runs from Monday-Sunday instead of Sunday-Saturday as it did in the past.)

Team 11/4 11/5 11/6 11/7 11/8 11/9 11/10
LA - - - vs.BUF (7:30) - vs.VAN (7:00) -
SJ - vs.BUF (7:30) - vs.VAN (7:30) - - @WPG (5:00)
ANA @NYR (4:30) - vs.PHX (7:00) - vs.BUF (7:00) - vs.VAN (5:00)
PHX - vs.VAN (6:00) @ANA (7:00) - - vs.WSH (5:00) -
@PHX (6:00)
- @SJ (7:30)
@LA (7:00) @ANA (5:00)
CGY - @MIN (5:00) - @STL (5:00) @COL (6:00) - -
EDM - @FLA (4:30) - @TB (4:30) - @PHI (10 am) @CHI (4:30)

Our Kings have an extremely light schedule this week, as they're in the middle of a rare four days off and will only play two games, starting with hosting the flailing Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. A divisional showdown with Vancouver at home (in the Hockey Night in Canada late game) wraps up their quiet week on Saturday. With everyone else in the division playing at least three games, many of them against each other, the Kings would need to go 2-0 on the week to avoid seeing some possible huge separation in the standings the next time I do one of these recaps.

The division-leading Sharks have a pair of home games against that same Sabres squad and a Vancouver team they've utterly dominated in the past few seasons, then start a 5-game road trip in Winnipeg on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Ducks finish off their 8-game Eastern road trip at the Rangers tonight (they've gone 4-2-1 on it, by the way, and 4-0-1 in their last 5 after dropping the first two games in Toronto & Montreal). Then they come home for a quick 3-game homestand before heading right back out east for another 5-game road trip, again all against Eastern teams, because the NHL schedule is whacked.

Phoenix hosts the Canucks tomorrow night, make a quick stop up to Anaheim on Wednesday, then finish off their week by hosting the Washington Capitals on Saturday. The Canucks, meanwhile, have easily the toughest schedule of any Pacific team this week- they'll play four games, all on the road, and all against the other four elite Pacific clubs. If they can even go 2-2-0 on the week they should probably take it as a victory.

As far as the Alberta teams go, the Flames will finish off their 4-game road trip that started with yesterday's win in Chicago. It's not an easy week by any means, as they've got the solid Wild, the elite Blues, and the, uh, due-to-regress Avalanche. The Oilers are on a 4-game road trip of their own, all played this week. You would think games in south Florida & Philadelphia are winnable given how those two teams have played so far this season, but it's the Oilers, so expect something like 0-3-1 and be impressed with anything better than that, I guess.

So that's another week + 1 in the books. See you next time.

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