PACIFIC WAR ROOM – 2.28.14


In an effort to keep Los Angeles Kings fans aware of the comings and goings of the other teams in the Smythe Pacific Division… we here at The Royal Half have created the Pacific War Room… a wrap-up of the past week in the Pacific from some of the best and brightest bloggers who cover Pacific Division teams. In order of current Pacific Division standings… we present Pacific War Room for the week of February 28th, 2014.

 

ANAHEIM DUCKS
1st PLACE, 41-14-5, 87 POINTS
@EarlSleek

 

Hahaha, the Ducks had no games this week and are still in first place.

Everybody’s safely back from Sochi, though, most of them with medals.  Here’s a bulleted recap – a pretty good Olympic showing for every Duck who went.

  • Getzlaf and Perry got their second gold medals with Team Canada, and were linemates with Jamie Benn when he scored the only goal in the semifinals against USA.
  • Silfverberg earned his last name by picking up a silver medal with Sweden, working his way up the depth chart as forwards got injured and/or unfairly disqualified.
  • Selänne and Vatanen earned bronze medals with Team Finland – Teemu scored 4 goals in the tournament, the same number of goals he’s scored over his past 39 NHL games, and picked up a semi-nostalgic MVP of the tournament.  Vatanen was second in the tournament in assists, and then was promptly sent back to the AHL until rosters expand early next month.
  • Fowler didn’t medal with Team USA, but worked his way from 7th defenseman to a spot in the regular rotation.  He scored a big power play goal against Russia, and despite some fears wasn’t a huge liability for the American blueline; Fowler finished the tournament plus-four, highest amongst Ducks who played.
  • Hiller didn’t medal with the Swiss, but he only allowed 2 goals in 3 games and won two nailbiter 1-0 games.

And everybody else in Anaheim got a nice break, which notably helped Bonino, Fistric, and Fasth recover from injuries.  Hooray!

Zero Ducks games this week means I’m putting zero effort into this week’s Sleektoon.  Zero scanning required!  :)

SochiSouvenirs

PANCAKE WATCH!  Dustin Penner spent his break canoodling, apparently.

 

 

SAN JOSE SHARKS
2nd PLACE, 38-16-6, 82 POINTS
@FearTheFin from Fear the Fin

 

Coming off impressive showings at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic all figured into the scoring last night in Philadelphia as the Sharks returned from the break with a bang, scoring seven goals en route to an emphatic win over the Flyers.

San Jose’s pre-break offensive struggles were overshadowed by their southern rivals in Los Angeles taking the concept of struggling offensively to a new level but, by the time the league broke for the Olympics, the Sharks were so desperate to score they nearly registered a Tinder account. Thanks to the return of Logan Couture and Raffi Torres, who scored two goals apiece last night, from injury those goal-scoring woes seem to be fixed for now. As long as they face a one-two punch of Steve Mason and Ray Emery every night anyway.

 

LOS ANGELES KINGS
3rd PLACE, 33-22-6,72 POINTS
@TheRoyalHalf from The Royal Half

 

Sure, we can talk about the total dominance of LA Kings players at the Winter Olympics.

As if you can improve on perfection.

Or we can talk about the LA Kings surprising goal explosion on Wednesday night that gave the hockey community a whole new set of Patrick Roy facial expressions…

Sad Roy Face - The Royal Half

… and new Darryl Sutter ones.

Sutter f-bomb Kings Avalanche - The Royal Half

Or we can talk about the LA Kings victory over the Calgary Flames Thursday night… in which… well, for some reason Drew Doughty did this:

Drew Doughty Gum Tongue - The Royal Half

But forget about those meaningless two wins back from the Olympic break. Because the real story for the Kings is how the Vancouver Canucks are falling apart:

Burn, Vancouver, burn.
Too soon?

Also this past week, we learned that Logan Couture may not be super focused on the playoff stretch run.

The other exciting thing to happen to the Pacific Division this week…

>https://twitter.com/theroyalhalf/status/439272819348631552

It’s about time that Fox Sports West removed Edmonton and Calgary from the playoff hunt. But at least they are still keeping a team with a real chance.

 

PHOENIX COYOTES
4th PLACE, 27-21-11, 65 POINTS
@CarlPutnam from Five For Howling

 

The IOC’s five ring circus is over and the NHL is back in full swing. You know what that means.

On the subject of blame and the Olympics, let’s all choose to never forget the genius who decided to waste Oliver Ekman’s Larsson’s immense talent. You know the same guy who chose to take pairs of Blackhawks and Wings over Victor Hedman.

Of course, maybe OEL just needed to rest his decrepit 22 year old body due to all the wear and tear of the NHL season.

Dave Tippett >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Pär Mårts

Coyotes goalie Mike Smith likely would have preferred to be back in Sochi last night. No, not because any other city on Earth is preferable to Winnipeg.

No, because in Russia Smith got a fun vacation where he didn’t have to do anything and got a shiny gold medal.  Side note – Hey look below, owners can actually have fun! Someone might want to inform Ed Snider. Then again Ed’s probably too busy convincing Paul Holmgren to trade Sean Couturier for Colin Fraser because handing the Kings one Stanley Cup wasn’t enough.

In contrast to his Russian experience, all the Canadian netminder got last night were Jets players hanging out in his crease during a sometimes dull exhibition of pucks and sticks. Smith wasn’t the only one pining for bigger ice and awful Nike sweaters.

OEL and fellow Olympian Martin Hanzal netted goals, but Paul Maurice’s crew of former Yotes did just as much damage in their 3-2 shootout win.

Phoenix gets right back at it tonight in Denver. The Dogs then return home for a three game home stand where they will face the Blues, Canucks, and Habs. Sitting in ninth place with only 23 games left on the schedule, the Coyotes may need reinforcements in order to wriggle their way into the postseason.

 

VANCOUVER CANUCKS
5th PLACE, 28-24-9, 65 POINTS
@PetBugs13 from Canucks Army

 

Before we get back to the NHL, let me fix that hashtag for you, America:

image copy 3

Not sure how I can go from watching Team Canada dominate teams with stifling possession and win games 1-0 back to the train wreck that is the Canucks in 2014, but here we are. Luckily I didn’t have too big of an adjustment for that first game back as the Canucks played a textbook game against the Blues and came out of it with a 1-0 win.

David Backes and TJ Oshie must be having Sochi flashbacks after that one.

But the big story this week in Canucksville concerned another US Olympian:

Yes, apparently Ryan Kesler wants out and according to Bob McKenzie, the Canucks are “listening aggressively” to trade offers:

image copy 4

I’m not sure how you do that unless you work for the NSA, but there you have it. If you hear it from Bob McKenzie, you know it’s true. 

While trading Kesler wouldn’t be at the top of my list, I’m ok with it if they can get one or two younger players with some upside. What this team needs more than anything is some depth. And probably to skip 2014 all together, but yeah, some depth.

 With the Kesler news breaking, Twitter was abuzz. In fact, there was so much fantasizing from pretty much every fanbase that my analogy might have been all too real:

Both hands on the keyboard, people!

Anyway, the Canucks play their greatest rivals rivals… a team from their former division, I think anyway, the Wild, tonight. Perhaps we’ll finally find out what Zach Parise did over the Olympic break:

image copy 5

 

 

CALGARY FLAMES
6th PLACE, 22-30-7, 51 POINTS
@BookOfLoob from Flames Nation

 

Let me tell you a story about Roger Bannister. Mister Bannister was an English physician and academic, and despite being a rank amateur, was a seasoned and historic sprinter in the 1950s.

Bannister ran for Oxford in his corking good University days, having a laugh and all that, but discovered he was quite good at it, to the point where, while opting to keep the majority of his focus on his scholarly pursuits, he would try to do it competitively whenever he could. Bannister showed a lot of signs of promise and eventually found his way into the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, competing in the 1500 m, finishing 5th in the qualifying race and 4th in the final. It was disappointing, and it shook Bannister to his core.

These were, of course, the days where no one had ever been able to conquer the 4 minute mile. Several more prolific sprinters with heavier training regimens than Bannister had attempted the feat, but no one could ever do it. It just became an accepted barrier in human performance, a wall that no one could ever break through.

Bannister, despite not being a full time runner, decided to double down on his efforts and attempt to beat the 4 minute mile. He partook in several races and came close a half dozen or so times – a 4.02 here, a 4.03 there – with other competitors finishing in similar times. It seemed discouraging, but it was a sign to Roger Bannister that a sub 4 minute mile was not out of reach.

Then on May 6th, 1954, in a track meet between Oxford and the British AAA, Bannister finally legged out the historic benchmark. Bannister crossed the finish line with a time of 3.59.4. When the PA announcer said “3″, the entire stadium lost their damn minds in frenzied excitement. The impossible had become possible. It was a new world. A time to be alive. All it took was the belief that these societal barriers could be broken if one applied himself accordingly, and Bannister became the poster boy for that belief before running off into the sunset and leading a more quiet life as a physician.

That is until Thursday night, when the Los Angeles Kings took the mantle and laid claim to that title. The Kings did what they and those who follow them could never do: beat the Calgary Flames.

Sure, this is a team but two seasons removed from a Stanley Cup victory, but the Flames, who held a 2-0 edge in the season series, were LA’s Everest. A win over their storied Pacific Rivals would surely offer them a glimpse into Valhalla.

No one ever thought it was possible. But it happened. It took injuries to both Flames goaltenders and two of their top 6 forwards, but they did it man, they finally did it.

They tamed the lion. They landed on the moon. They touched a girl’s boob.

And it will never happen again. The Flames are going to finish ahead of the Kings in the standings, and no Robyn Regehr goal scoring streak will ever change that.

Because Roger Bannister is a fat old coot today, and so is the overall performance of Los Angeles in the past two months. Welcome back, Pacific Division hockey. Let’s get weird.

 

EDMONTON OILERS
7th PLACE, 20-33-7, 47 POINTS
@JSBMrevolution

 

Jeanshorts And Baggedmilk, in association with The Canafornians and The Royal Half are proud to present the single most entertaining thing to happen in an Edmonton Oilers/Minnesota Wild game in the last decade.

#BringBackTheOlympicBreak

 

TRH WILD CARD WATCH™

WildCard2-28

The Pacific Division… Champions of the World*!
*offer not valid in Calgary

Thanks to all the amazing Pacific Division Bloggers. Check back next Friday for another edition of Pacific War Room!  Also, be sure to check out the DemocraThree, the Central Division’s answer to the Pacific War Room.

You can check out past editions of Pacific War Room here!

The Royal Half has been a Los Angeles Kings fan since 1988 and a Half-Season Ticket Holder since 2002. He has seen the following goaltenders play in person for the Los Angeles Kings… Kelly Hrudey, Grant Fuhr, Byron Dafoe, Jamie Storr, Stephane Fiset, Felix Potvin, Cristobal Huet, Roman Cechmanek, Mathieu Garon, Adam Hauser, Jason LaBarbera, Barry Brust, Sean Burke, Dan Cloutier, Yutaka Fukufuji, Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Erik Ersberg, Jonathan Bernier, Jonathan Quick, Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones.You can follow The Royal Half on Twitter @TheRoyalHalf.