This Week in Kings (3/3/14)

Win-ning str-eak?

The Olympics finally came to a close and the NHL returned, meaning TWIK is once again back to guide you through the week that was in the Pacific Division (and the upcoming week as well). I know, feel that excitement. If you haven't been with us much during the Olympic break, allow me to throw in some ~cheap plugs~: first, I rounded up six other Pacific bloggers and fans to talk about our sports feelings at the break, which was fun and as a bonus royally pissed off the Royal Half. Next, I had the pleasure of recapping the Canada-Sweden Olympic final as well as the Olympics as a whole for all the Kings players, so feel free to check that out too if you haven't already. But as mentioned, the Olympics are over, done, finished, finito. So let's get right into the abbreviated week that was in the NHL.

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, February 24th & Tuesday, February 25th

No NHL games were played on either of these days. Think there might have been an AHL game on Tuesday they put on national TV for some reason, which was great exposure for that league so way to go guys!

Wednesday, February 26th

-Los Angeles Kings 6, Colorado Avalanche 4: No, that's not a typo, the Kings really did score six goals. Swear to god, that happened. Okay, sure, one was an empty-netter, but that still means the Kings scored five goals in a game on an actual NHL goaltender. Or at least on the ghost of an NHL goaltender, I guess. Still, good enough. The Kings had control of puck possession for most of the game, with 58.3% of all shot attempts and an even 60.0% of unblocked attempts at 5v5 close. That seems to happen to the Avalanche a lot, actually. Once they were trying to come back in the 3rd, the Avs did close that possession gap a lot (which is called score effects, kids, although they actually don't happen to the Kings to anywhere near the same extremes as most other teams), as the final 5v5 numbers were a 50.7% edge of all attempts and 50.9% of unblocked attempts for the Avalanche. And their power play really held them in it, as they went 3-for-5 with the man advantage (but hey, LA went 1-for-3, which for us is amazing!). Anyway, it was a weird post-break game but it was nice to get things kicked off with a win, that's for sure. (recap) (gamethread)

-Vancouver Canucks 1, St. Louis Blues 0: Eddie Lack had to stop just 20 shots to earn the shutout for the Canucks, who scored just 1 goal on 35 shots against Jaroslav Halak (what a bum, thank god the Blues traded him). Keep Lack's name in mind because it's gonna come up again later.

Thursday, February 27th

-San Jose Sharks 7, Philadelphia Flyers 3: These assholes in San Jose always have to one-up us, huh? We score six, they score seven the next day. Go away Sharks no one likes you.

-Winnipeg Jets 3, Phoenix Coyotes 2 (SO): Hey! It's the Old Jets vs. the New Jets! Or, if you'd prefer, the Actually Jets vs. Actually Thrashers! Anyway, score this one as a victory for Atlanta, I guess. Ondrej Pavelec, who if you'll recall is usually quite terrible, actually stopped 34 of 36, and Mike Smith, still fat on press box popcorn from Sochi, was unable to match that effort (though he did stop 27 of 29 which sure ain't bad either). Don't look now but the Jets are back in the Wild Card mix in the West, having gone on a great run since hiring Paul Maurice to replace Claude Noel (still miss his press conferences though, they were awesome).

-Los Angeles Kings 2, Calgary Flames 0: Hahaha this game. Okay, so let me try and explain it to you this way: you know that thing that every other team in the NHL has done to the Kings the past few years, where they get woefully outplayed and yet win in regulation anyway? Well, the Kings did that. TO CALGARY. I swear to god, that happened. Calgary skated circles around an LA team that looked like they had spent the entire flight from Colorado to Calgary taking downers and washing them down with whiskey, but somehow the Kings won anyway. How brutally bad were they in this game, you ask? Let's go to the #fancystats: Calgary controlled 57.9% of all shot attempts overall (55.7% of unblocked attempts), 56.0% of all attempts at 5v5 (53.7% of unblocked attempts), and- holy shit- 62.7% of all attempts at 5v5 close (61.5% of unblocked attempts). No, that's not a typo- over sixty percent of attempts at score close situations. CALGARY DID THAT. TO US. That's, uh, unexpected, to say the least. Oh well, we won anyway so who gives a crap, I guess. We're only owed about (checks calculator) 999,999 more of these games before the ledger is balanced. (recap) (gamethread)

-Minnesota Wild 3, Edmonton Oilers 0

Friday, February 28th

-Buffalo Sabres 4, San Jose Sharks 2: Hahaha that's your second loss to Buffalo this season, San Jose, what the hell? Even we only lost to them once. Shaking my damn head at you Sharks.

-Colorado Avalanche 4, Phoenix Coyotes 2

-Minnesota Wild 2, Vancouver Canucks 1 (SO): Hey, a Canucks-Wild game, I bet that was sure exciting. Oh what's that, Eddie Lack got his second straight start, and only allowed 1 goal on 23 shots? That's pretty good I guess, but really he's been facing about as many shots as (non-US-Olympic-version) Jonathan Quick in these past couple games, so nothing worth going crazy over and giving him the start over Roberto Luongo in the big fake-outdoor-game on Sunday, right?

-Anaheim Ducks 1, St. Louis Blues 0: God, that's 2 goals in 2 games the Blues have given up, when are they finally going to get some much-needed goaltending help?

Saturday, March 1st

-Los Angeles Kings 3, Carolina Hurricanes 1: After the crazy goal-scoring of the Colorado game and then the weird Calgary game that was apparently played in a mirror universe, it was nice to see the Kings get back to what they do best: mostly controlling puck possession while not really scoring any goals. Whoo! The Kings were good in all the advanced stats, if maybe not quite up to their usual high standard (60.2% of overall shot attempts, but only 54.9% of shot attempts at 5v5, so yes they were actually carried by their power play, think about THAT for a while), and more importantly scored a couple goals in the process. Mike Richards fired a shot from a terrible angle that went in off a defenseman's stick late in the 1st, and I guess Robyn Regehr felt really bad for his fellow blueliner because he deflected in a Carolina shot with his glove like 41 seconds later. What a big-eared softie that guy is. But Alec Martinez, who was actually on the ice playing hockey for the second straight game, scored a power play goal (!!!) about eight minutes into the 3rd to finally break the 1-1 tie, and the Kings held on against some pretty decent Carolina pressure (the 3rd was by far their best period) until Justin Williams could ice it with an empty-netter (two in the same week!!!!!!) to give the Kings the victory. Yep, 3-0-0 in their first week back, and a 4-game winning streak if you wanna look all the way back to that Columbus game right before the Olympic break. It's okay if you totally forgot what this feels like because I did too. (recap) (gamethread)

-Calgary Flames 2, Edmonton Oilers 1 (OT): BATTLE OF ALBERTA Y'ALL!!!!! This game was hilarious. Don't believe me? Well, first of all, David Perron's goal that came 9:43 into the 3rd was the Oilers' first goal in almost a friggin' month. Yes, obviously the Olympic break was in there, but the last time they scored was the first period of a game against the Devils on February 7th. That's a Ryan Dunn-level drought right there folks. In actual game time, it was 160:47, so almost three whole games. HERE COME THE OILERS! Oh, but the hilarity doesn't stop there. Shots on goal for the second period were, swear to god, 6-3 Edmonton. Yes, they had nine combined shots in an entire 20 minutes of hockey. What were they doing for the twenty minutes, you ask? Good question. My personal theory was that they realized about five minutes into the period how pointless this stupid game was and just decided to skate off and go play some poker or something instead, but that was shot to hell by Sean Monahan's quote after the game, in which he described it as "kind of a must-win game for us." before adding "It was pretty intense." NINE COMBINED SHOTS ON GOAL IN A PERIOD! FEEL THE INTENSITY!!!!

Sunday, March 2nd

-San Jose Sharks 4, New Jersey Devils 2

-Ottawa Senators 4, Vancouver Canucks 2: THE HERITAGE CLASSIC! An outdoor game that isn't actually outdoors, between two teams who supposedly played for a Stanley Cup like a hundred years ago but aren't actually these two teams! YEAHHHHHH! Okay, let's be real, no one cared about this game.....except for Roberto Luongo, apparently, who was really looking forward to playing in it. So of course, John Tortorella decided to start Eddie Lack instead. Yep. That went about as well as every other choice Torts makes these days, as Lack allowed 3 goals on 27 shots and the Canucks lost. But there were fireworks afterwards, inside an indoor building, because what could possibly go wrong there? Swear to god, as the fireworks were going off, the announcers on NBCSN were talking about how the building the Vancouver Millionaires played in burned down in like the 1930s or something. You can't write that kind of comedy, folks.

-St. Louis Blues 4, Phoenix Coyotes 2: The Blues, finally realizing what a huge hole they had in goal, made a move to trade for Ryan Miller, who came in and promptly allowed double the goals Halak and Elliott had allowed in their last starts earlier in the week. But whatever, the Blues actually decided to score some goals this time so I guess it all worked out for them. Have fun in Buffalo, Jaroslav!

-Anaheim Ducks 5, Carolina Hurricanes 3

This Week in Standings

Team GP W L OTL Points ROW GF GA Diff Home Away Last Week
1. Anaheim 62 43 14 5 91 41 202 150 +52 24-5-2 19-9-3 2-0-0
2. San Jose 62 39 17 6 84 30 188 151 +37 22-4-3 17-13-3 2-1-0
3. Los Angeles 62 34 22 6 74 28 150 133 +17 18-10-3 16-12-3 3-0-0
4. Vancouver 63 28 25 10 66 25 150 166 -16 15-10-6 13-15-4 1-1-1
5. Phoenix 61 27 23 11 65 23 169 180 -11 17-11-3 10-12-8 0-2-1
6. Calgary 60 23 30 7 53 19 139 182 -43 12-15-3 11-15-4 1-1-0
7. Edmonton 62 20 34 8 48 18 154 204 -50 10-15-3 10-19-5 0-1-1

There was some movement in the Pacific standings for the first time in a while, but it didn't come at the top. The Ducks held onto their top spot with another solid 2-0-0 week, maintaining a seven-point gap on the Sharks while San Jose used up their game in hand on them. San Jose had a good 2-1-0 week, but the Kings had the best week of the division, going a perfect 3-0-0 week and gaining 2 points on them. Granted, ten points is still an enormous deficit to make up, but you gotta start somewhere.

The movement in the standings came in that 4/5 hole, as the Canucks leapfrogged back over the Coyotes with a middling 1-1-1 week, which was still much better than Phoenix's quite awful 0-2-1. Neither team got back into the Wild Card, however, so there remains only 3 Pacific teams in the playoffs right now. Speaking of the Wild Card, let's take a look and see how much ground they have to make up if they want to get back into the playoffs. Top two teams get in, the rest look sillier than Mike Smith getting a gold medal for sitting in the press box.

Team GP W L OTL Points ROW GF GA Diff Home Away Last Week
1. Minnesota (C) 61 33 21 7 73 26 150 148 +2 21-7-2 12-14-5 2-0-0
2. Dallas (C) 60 28 22 10 66 25 170 169 +1 14-9-6 13-12-4 1-1-0
3. Winnipeg (C) 62 30 26 6 66 24 174 178 -4 15-11-4 15-15-2 2-0-0
4. Vancouver (P) 63 28 25 10 66 25 150 166 -16 15-10-6 13-15-4 1-1-1
5. Phoenix (P) 61 27 23 11 65 23 169 180 -11 17-11-3 10-12-8 0-2-1
6. Nashville (C) 61 26 25 10 62 25 150 185 -35 15-13-4 11-12-6 1-1-0
7. Calgary (P) 60 23 30 7 53 19 139 182 -43 12-15-3 11-15-4 1-1-0
8. Edmonton (P) 62 20 34 8 48 18 154 204 -50 10-15-3 10-19-5 0-1-1

There was no movement in the two actual playoff spots, as the Wild held onto their top spot with a great 2-0-0 week while the Stars went 1-1-0 and held on as well, albeit on a tiebreaker. The big jump came from the Winnipeg Jets, who continued their strong play under new head coach Paul Maurice by going 2-0-0 and leaping all the way up from fifth to third. Vancouver's 1-1-1 week kept them in fourth, but as you can see there's actually a three-way tie between Dallas, Winnipeg, and Vancouver for that last playoff spot. Dallas' big advantage is that they've only played 60 games to Winnipeg's 62 and Vancouver's 63, putting their own destiny in their hands if they can do something with the extra games they have remaining. Meanwhile, Phoenix was the big dropper, falling from third to fifth in the WC standings, though they are still only 1 point behind that pack of three. Nashville went 1-1-0 to at least remain in the conversation and only 4 points out of the playoff spot, which is incredible considering their -35 goal differential. And of course, the Alberta teams played hockey and stuff, I guess.

This Week in #fancystats

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

Kings 6, Avalanche 4
Corsi: Avalanche 59-Kings 51 (overall), Avalanche 38-Kings 37 (5v5, 43.4 mins), Kings 28-Avalanche 20 (5v5 close, 29.1 mins), Kings 15-Avalanche 7 (5v5 tied, 16.4 mins)
Fenwick: Avalanche 44-Kings 36 (overall), Avalanche 28-Kings 27 (5v5, 43.4 mins), Kings 21-Avalanche 14 (5v5 close, 29.1 mins), Kings 10-Avalanche 5 (5v5 tied, 16.4 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Williams (+4), Nolan/Toffoli/Kopitar/Voynov (tied, +3). Worst: Brown (-5), Stoll/Doughty/King (tied, -3)

Kings 2, Flames 0
Corsi: Flames 55-Kings 40 (overall), Flames 42-Kings 33 (5v5, 48.9 mins), Flames 32-Kings 19 (5v5 close, 35.0 mins), Kings 3-Flames 2 (5v5 tied, 3.0 mins)
Fenwick: Flames 39-Kings 31 (overall), Flames 29-Kings 25 (5v5, 48.9 mins), Flames 24-Kings 15 (5v5 close, 35.0 mins), Kings 2-Flames 0 (5v5 tied, 3.0 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Brown/King (tied, +8), Stoll (+3). Worst: Nolan (-14), Carter (-13), Richards (-11)

Kings 3, Hurricanes 1
Corsi: Kings 62-Hurricanes 41 (overall), Kings 39-Hurricanes 32 (5v5, 42.4 mins), Kings 31-Hurricanes 22 (5v5 close, 33.2 mins), Kings 31-Hurricanes 21 (5v5 tied, 32.5 mins)
Fenwick: Kings 53-Hurricanes 38 (overall), Kings 35-Hurricanes 30 (5v5, 42.4 mins), Kings 30-Hurricanes 21 (5v5 close, 33.2 mins), Kings 30-Hurricanes 20 (5v5 tied, 32.5 mins)
Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Stoll (+11), Brown/Mitchell (tied, +9). Worst: Vey (-5), Williams/Regehr (tied, -3)

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 3/3 3/4 3/5 3/6 3/7 3/8 3/9
LA vs.MTL (7:30) - - @WPG (4:00) - - @EDM (5:00)
ANA - - vs.MTL (7:00) - vs.PIT (7:00) - -
SJ - vs.CAR (7:30) - vs.PIT (7:30) - vs.MTL (7:00) -
VAN - @PHX (6:00) - @DAL (5:30) - vs.CGY (7:00) -
PHX - vs.VAN (6:00) - vs.MTL (6:00) - @WSH (4:00) -
CGY @MIN (5:00) - vs.OTT (6:30) - vs.NYI (6:00) @VAN (7:00) -
EDM - vs.OTT (6:30) - vs.NYI (6:30) - - vs.LA (5:00)

The Kings will host the Montreal Canadeins tonight before embarking on a three-game Western Canadian road trip that starts in Winnipeg on Thursday and ends with a back-to-back against those wacky Alberta teams Sunday & Monday. Not the most difficult of weeks in front of them, so let's see if they can keep the winning streak going at least a little while longer.

The Ducks have just two games again this week, as those lazy bastards are off until Wednesday and done after Friday. Nice work if you can get it. Meanwhile, San Jose kicks off a four-game homestand tomorrow when they host Carolina, and in fact all four opponents will be from the Eastern Conference, so you'd have to like their chances (at least they have to play Pittsburgh in there too, I guess).

It's a huge week for the Vancouver Canucks, as if you'll recall they're in the midst of quite the logjam in the Wild Card standings. Well, on Tuesday they'll play Phoenix (who's one point behind them with two games in hand), on Thursday they'll head out to Dallas to play the Stars (who's tied in points with them but with three games in hand), and on Saturday night they'll, uh, play the Calgary Flames (who suck). Well, it's a huge first two games for them, at least.

Phoenix has that aforementioned showdown at home with the Canucks, then host Montreal on Thursday. Saturday then starts a 4-game Eastern Conference road trip for the Desert Dogs, as picking up points against the East will be paramount if they want to stay in the mix for a Wild Card spot. And finally, the Flames & Oilers will play some hockey games and probably lose most of them. Yep.

So that's all I've got for you this week. Good to get back in the swing of things. See you next time.