This Week in Kings (2/3/14)

At least we won a game.

I think we've pretty much beaten the topic of "the Kings are the unluckiest bastards in the history of ever" topic into the ground at this here website, so I'll try to keep it brief. But holy crap, this week was brutal. The highlight of the week came on the very first day and it was all downhill from there, culminating with getting shutout by Steve f'n Mason on Saturday. Let's get into the sadness and sorrow.

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, January 27th

-Edmonton Oilers 4, Vancouver Canucks 2: Well, at least we weren't alone in having an awful week. Vancouver got their own week full of crap started with a bang, somehow losing at home to the Oilers, in regulation. Ouch. They did outshoot the Canucks 27-19, which is nice I guess but not exactly staggering numbers given the opposition either. When you give up the game-winner to Jesse Joensuu (his third of the season! who is that, you ask? exactly) early in the 3rd, it probably was not a good night.

-Los Angeles Kings 1, San Jose Sharks 0: Ah yes, as mentioned earlier it's always good to get the lone highlight out of the way first. The Kings played probably the exact type of game they needed to play in the midst of this epic offensive drought, a classic road game: low-event (the two teams combined for just 18 scoring chances; compare that to their last game in San Jose on November 29th, when both teams had more than 18 scoring chances alone!), low-scoring, and ultimately, a huge win for Los Angeles. Yes, the scoring woes still were not solved, and yes, no one other than Anze Kopitar could score, but a win is a win, especially during a time like this. This game was not pretty and definitely not much fun to watch most of the way, but I'll take it. (recap) (analysis) (gamethread)

Tuesday, January 28th

-Phoenix Coyotes 3, Los Angeles Kings 0: And right back to zero goals we go! The Coyotes played a good game (my Best Friend the Coyotes Fan called it "their best game of the season") and were clearly ready to go from the start against a Kings team that looked like they left their legs back in San Jose. The Kings had some good shifts, but for the most part were hemmed into their own zone against a Phoenix team that usually struggles with puck possession far too often. The Coyotes out-chanced the Kings 21-12, 18-12 at evens, which is unacceptable playing a team that is not exactly an offensive powerhouse (though their offensive numbers are better this year than you'd probably expect, a lot of that is likely due to early season shooting percentages that have since leveled off quite a bit; and with it, Phoenix's success in the standings have leveled off as well). Robert called it "a schedule loss", which is going to happen when you're playing a condensed, Olympic-year schedule, but the fact that it comes in the midst of such an awful run for the Kings made it more difficult to swallow than it may have been usually. (recap) (analysis)(gamethread)

-Calgary Flames 5, Chicago Blackhawks 4 (OT): Hah Chicago, you lost to Calgary! And you didn't even do it in a funny way, like, say, losing the game in the final minute of regulation (twice!). Losers!

-Minnesota Wild 4, Anaheim Ducks 2

Wednesday, January 29th

-Edmonton Oilers 3, San Jose Sharks 0: Hey, whatever happened to that Professor guy, anyway? I'm glad you asked, dear reader! Playing behind a defense and, uh, team as terrible as the Oilers are in general is probably an adjustment, but apparently Scrivens has made it, because all he did in this game is stop 59 shots, setting a new NHL regular season record for most saves in a shutout in the process. Not bad, not bad at all. The fact that it happened at the expense of LA's direct rival who is directly ahead of us in the Pacific standings was pretty cool too. Luv u Benjamin~

-Chicago Blackhawks 5, Vancouver Canucks 2: The Canucks started the 2nd period by taking a 2-0 lead, off a goal from Tom Sestito, of all people, but it would be all downhill from there. 6:30 into the period, the Hawks would make it 2-1 off a Marian Hossa power play goal. 3:39 later, Brandon Saad tied it. A minute and eight seconds after THAT, Jonathan Toews gave the Hawks their first lead of the game. And about two and a half minutes after THAT, Patrick Sharp made it 4-2. Altogether it was four goals in seven minutes and forty-one seconds, as the Hawks scored more than a goal every two minutes. Good show, Canucks, good show indeed!

Thursday, January 30th

-Calgary Flames 4, San Jose Sharks 1: The Kings have some pretty neat company now in that special club called "teams that lost to the Calgary Flames even though they in no way should ever lose to the Calgary Flames".

-Buffalo Sabres 3, Phoenix Coyotes 2: Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

-Anaheim Ducks 5, Philadelphia Flyers 3

-Pittsburgh Penguins 4, Los Angeles Kings 1: Oh god, whatever. I don't even really want to talk about this one. At least the Kings scored a goal (and YOU'LL NEVER GUESS WHO IT W-okay it was just Anze Kopitar again, aka "the only player to score a goal for the Kings in THEIR LAST SIX GAMES"), I guess. Of course, they also surrendered four to Pittsburgh, so this game wasn't really in doubt most of the way. The Penguins smartly dressed their backup goalie Jeff Zatkoff who had once been in the Kings' system, so of course despite coming into the game with something like a .902 sv% he stopped 30 of 31 shots (that's a .968, if you're keeping score at home). Jonathan Quick, meanwhile, stopped 4 of 7 before getting pulled at the end of the 1st. Cool, thanks Jonathan, enjoy the bench in Sochi! (recap) (gamethread)

Friday, January 31st

-Winnipeg Jets 4, Vancouver Canucks 3: Man, the more I get into this week's results, the more I realize the Kings didn't even have the worst week in the division. I mean, jesus, at least we beat the Sharks. The Canucks lost to the Oilers, which is worse than losing to Phoenix, and lost to the Jets, which is probably about equal to losing to the Flyers (oh no, spoiler alert!). This was also notable for being the last game of the John Tortorella suspension, as he returned to the bench tonight in their game against Detroit (which just dropped the puck as I write this). We'll see if that gives them any kind of short-term boost, because boy do they need it right now.

Saturday, February 1st

-Boston Bruins 4, Edmonton Oilers 0

-Philadelphia Flyers 2, Los Angeles Kings 0: So yeah, I was trying to reverse-jinx it, but instead I just probably actually-jinxed it. On the upside, if getting shutout by Steve Mason isn't "rock bottom", I don't know what is, so maybe there's nowhere to go from here but up! Except for when they get killed by the Hawks tonight, I guess.....after that there's nowhere to go but up! Anyway, the Kings played really well and outshot and outchanced the opposition and scored no goals, so in another words it was the exact same game that we will all be watching for all eternity while we're burning in hell. Hey, maybe that's it: we're all dead and the past few weeks of the Kings have been our punishment for living our mortal lives in sin! I like that theory better than "the Kings are just the unluckiest hockey team in the history of the planet earth". And yes, that was an elaborate attempt to avoid talking about this game, which I guess worked because I'm done! (recap) (gamethread)

-Phoenix Coyotes 3, Pittsburgh Penguins 1: Hey, thanks Pittsburgh for rolling into Staples and beating us only to then immediately lose to one of the teams trying to chase us down in the standings, thanks. Man, screw the whole state of Pennsylvania.

-Calgary Flames 4, Minnesota Wild 3 (OT)

-Dallas Stars 2, Anaheim Ducks 0

-San Jose Sharks 2, Chicago Blackhawks 1 (SO): Chicago probably pulled a Pittsburgh in reverse: went into San Jose and lost, which again is very helpful thanks bros, and now will probably roll into Staples tonight and kill us. Because of course.

Sunday, February 2nd

Nothing, because everyone in the Pacific wanted to make sure they were ready to watch a terrible football game, I guess.

This Week in Standings

Team GP W L OTL Points ROW GF GA Diff Home Away Last Week
1. Anaheim 57 40 12 5 85 38 189 139 +50 22-3-2 18-9-3 1-2-0
2. San Jose 56 35 15 6 76 26 168 134 +34 20-3-3 15-12-3 1-3-0
3. Los Angeles 57 30 21 6 66 24 134 122 +12 16-9-3 14-12-3 1-3-0
4. Vancouver 56 27 20 9 63 24 142 147 -5 14-9-5 13-11-4 0-3-0
5. Phoenix 55 26 19 10 62 22 159 164 -5 16-9-3 10-10-7 2-1-0
6. Calgary 55 21 27 7 49 17 132 173 -41 12-14-3 9-13-4 3-0-0
7. Edmonton 57 18 33 6 42 16 147 194 -47 10-14-2 8-19-4 2-1-0

It was Bizzaro World in the Pacific Division this past week, as the top four teams all posted losing records (and I'm 99.9% sure it's the first time that's happened all season), while the bottom three all posted winning records (probably a first too but less sure about that). I guess you could look at that two different ways: on the plus side, the Kings' going 1-3-0 wasn't nearly as damaging to their place in the standings as it might have been. The Ducks went 1-2-0 (but they're basically uncatchable for us anyway at this point so whatever), the Sharks also went 1-3-0 so remain a depressing ten points ahead of us but didn't pad that lead at all, and the Canucks actually lost ground on us with their 0-3-0 week, going from one point back to three points back (albeit with a game in hand now). On the other hand, you could also look at this week as a giant missed opportunity, where even a mediocre 2-2-0 week would have seen the Kings gain ground on the Sharks and pad their lead over the Canucks. All depends on if you're a glass-half-full or half-empty kind of person, I guess.

The big winners of the week were Phoenix, who went 2-1-0 and now sit just one point behind Vancouver (with a game in hand) and four points behind LA (with two games in hand). It was their first really positive week in a while, and though they didn't move up any spots in the Pacific standings just yet they definitely set themselves up to do it in the not-so-distant future. Was it enough for them to move up into the second Wild Card spot in the West? Let's take a look at those standings and find out! Remember, top two get in, everybody else is forced to sit through this year's Super Bowl again.

Team GP W L OTL Points ROW GF GA Diff Home Away Last Week
1. Minnesota (C) 57 29 21 7 65 23 140 144 -4 19-7-2 10-14-5 1-1-1
2. Vancouver (P) 56 27 20 9 63 24 142 147 -5 14-9-5 13-11-4 0-3-0
3. Phoenix (P) 55 26 19 10 62 22 159 164 -5 16-9-3 10-10-7 2-1-0
4. Dallas (C) 55 25 21 9 59 22 158 160 -2 13-9-6 12-12-3 1-1-1
5. Nashville (C) 57 25 23 9 59 24 142 172 -30 14-11-4 11-12-5 2-0-1
6. Winnipeg (C) 57 27 25 5 59 22 161 166 -5 14-11-4 13-14-1 2-1-0
7. Calgary (P) 55 21 27 7 49 17 132 173 -41 12-14-3 9-13-4 3-0-0
8. Edmonton (P) 57 18 33 6 42 16 147 194 -47 10-14-2 8-19-4 2-1-0

Nope, Phoenix is still on the outside looking in, but barely. At the top of the standings, Minnesota took over control of the #1 Wild Card spot, passing Vancouver even while going 1-1-1. That's what happens when you go 0-3-0, I guess. The Canucks are still only 2 points back of the Wild with a game in hand on them, but Phoenix is just one point back of them with a game in hand, so they have to be paying more attention to their rear at this point. Behind Phoenix is a hilarious mess of three teams all tied with 59 points. Why hilarious? Look at the goal differentials: Dallas' -2 is actually better than all three teams ahead of them, Winnipeg's -5 isn't bad, but Nashville, who is tied in points with those two teams, has a MINUS THIRTY! Haha, what the hell? Nashville actually took back the 5th spot in the standings from Winnipeg on the basis of ROWs, though again the teams are tied in points. It's a logjam right now, with all three teams suddenly back in the playoff race, only 4 points back of the Canucks for that second Wild Card spot. If anyone's going to come out of that mess it likely will be Dallas, but considering they'll have to leapfrog Phoenix to do it that isn't exactly a guarantee, either. Definitely worth keeping an eye on, and hopefully the Kings can get back to winning here shortly to avoid falling back into this cluster-you-know-what.

This Week in #fancystats

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

Kings 1, Sharks 0
Corsi: Kings 55-Sharks 55 (overall), Sharks 43-Kings 40 (5v5, 40.3 mins), Kings 33-Sharks 22 (5v5 close, 29.1 mins), Kings 33-Sharks 19 (5v5 tied, 27.9 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 33-Sharks 31 (overall), Sharks 23-Kings 21 (5v5, 40.3 mins), Kings 17-Sharks 11 (5v5 close, 29.1 mins), Kings 17-Sharks 9 (5v5 tied, 27.9 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: King (+12), Carter (+7), Muzzin (+5). Worst: Williams/Brown (tied, -12), Greene (-6)

Coyotes 3, Kings 0
Corsi: Coyotes 58-Kings 56 (overall), Kings 53-Coyotes 51 (5v5, 51.7 mins), Kings 25-Coyotes 25 (5v5 close, 21.1 mins), Coyotes 22-Kings 13 (5v5 tied, 13.9 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 47-Coyotes 42 (overall), Kings 45-Coyotes 36 (5v5, 51.7 mins), Kings 22-Coyotes 19 (5v5 close, 21.1 mins), Coyotes 17-Kings 12 (5v5 tied, 13.9 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: King/Voynov/Carter (tied, +6). Worst: Brown (-9), Mitchell (-6), Williams (-4)

Penguins 4, Kings 1
Corsi: Kings 60-Penguins 40 (overall), Kings 50-Penguins 30 (5v5, 50.0 mins), Kings 7-Penguins 6 (5v5 close, 9.8 mins), Penguins 4-Kings 0 (5v5 tied, 1.5 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 45-Penguins 31 (overall), Kings 38-Penguins 25 (5v5, 50.0 mins), Kings 5-Penguins 5 (5v5 close, 9.8 mins), Penguins 3-Kings 0 (5v5 tied, 1.5 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Kopitar (+15), Toffoli (+14), Carter (+11). Worst: Stoll (-3), King (+1), Lewis/Brown (tied, +2)

Flyers 2, Kings 0
Corsi: Kings 69-Flyers 27 (overall), Kings 58-Flyers 23 (5v5, 51.3 mins), Kings 43-Flyers 15 (5v5 close, 36.0 mins), Kings 26-Flyers 10 (5v5 tied, 23.8 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 49-Flyers 19 (overall), Kings 43-Flyers 17 (5v5, 51.3 mins), Kings 31-Flyers 12 (5v5 close, 36.0 mins), Kings 17-Flyers 8 (5v5 tied, 23.8 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Lewis/King (tied, +17), Kopitar/Muzzin (tied, +16). Worst: Clifford (-1), Fraser (even), Nolan (+1)

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 2/3 2/4 2/5 2/6 2/7 2/8 2/9
LA vs.CHI (7:30) - - vs.CBJ (7:30) - - -
ANA vs.CBJ (7:00) - vs.CHI (7:00) - - @NSH (5:00) -
SJ vs.PHI (7:30) - vs.DAL (7:30) - vs.CBJ (7:30) - -
VAN @DET (4:30) @BOS (4:00) - @MTL (4:30) - @TOR (3:00) -
PHX - vs.DAL (6:00) - - vs.CHI (6:00) @DAL (5:00) -
CGY - @MTL (4:30) - @NYI (4:00) - @PHI (10 am) -
EDM @BUF (4:00) - - @NYR (4:00) @NJ (4:00) - -

This is a weird week folks. First of all, there isn't a single game played within the division. Both Alberta teams as well as the Canucks are on extended Eastern Conference road trips to finish things off before the Olympic break, while the other four teams are all basically welcoming in the same teams (some combination of Chicago, Dallas, and Columbus). The Kings will play only two games as their Olympic break will start a couple days earlier than it will for most teams. They play the Blackhawks tonight, get two days off, then host the Jackets on Thursday, and that's it until February 26th at Colorado. I'm sure I'm not the only Kings fan who feels like they could use a break from watching one of the most frustrating hockey teams in history play right now, so it would be pretty hilarious if the Kings suddenly explode for eight goals in these two games or something, just to make us all go into the break actually wishing they were still playing. We'll see. Outside of an eight-minute stretch in Vancouver the Blackhawks haven't exactly been playing their best hockey of late either, but I still don't have high hopes for tonight or anything.

The Ducks also have Columbus and Chicago before finishing their pre-Olympic schedule on Saturday night in Nashville. The Sharks will host the Flyers, Stars, and Jackets. The Canucks have a brutal stretch of three-games-in-four-nights and four-games-in-six-nights before they finish up with a weird 6 pm EST start time in Toronto on Saturday (I presume scheduled that way over some kind of CBC Olympic coverage schedule conflict, as there's no HNIC late game this week for the first time in, like, eons). The Coyotes host the Stars and Blackhawks before ending in Dallas on Saturday. And as mentioned already, both the Alberta teams are on Eastern road trips as well. And that's it, as Saturday night is the last night of NHL action before the Olympic break officially starts on Sunday. Even though the Winter Olympics start on Thursday night (Opening Ceremonies are Friday, though there's a few events that start the day before), the men's hockey tournament doesn't get underway until next Wednesday, February 12th. More on that in next week's column.

That's all for another (losing) week of Kings hockey. No matter what happens tonight and Thursday, at least we'll all get to take a breather. See you next week to close the book on the pre-Olympic break portion of the schedule.