PACIFIC WAR ROOM – 3.28.14
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 March 28th, 2014.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
1st PLACE, 47-19-9, 103 POINTS
PLAYOFF SPOT CLINCHED
@FearTheFin from Fear the Fin
For too long, the narrative about the Sharks has been that they can’t come through in the clutch against top-tier opponents; that they wilt a couple rounds into the playoffs when faced with elite clubs. Well they’re doing a great job of flipping that script so far this season, as shootout losses against Washington and Calgary along with a regulation loss on home ice to the lowly Winnipeg Jets this week mean San Jose is now 4-3-3 against non-playoff teams since the Olympic break, compared to 6-0-0 against teams who currently hold playoff spots.
I guess it’s encouraging that they’re beating the types of opponents they’ll face when they open the Stanley Cup playoffs on home ice next month (oh, did I mention the Sharks clinched a playoff spot this week? A banner is being raised to the SAP Center rafters as we speak)? Failing to earn a single point against Buffalo, Florida and Winnipeg will loom large should Anaheim overtake San Jose for the Pacific Division crown.
2nd PLACE, 47-18-7, 101 POINTS
PLAYOFF SPOT CLINCHED
The only reason you had to scroll down this far is because the Ducks only had two games last week. :) Anaheim blew out the Panthers and then edged the suddenly-good Flames. The Ducks sit 2 points back of the Sharks with 3 games in hand, they’ve locked up the ROW tiebreaker, and they theoretically have the easiest strength of remaining schedule in the west – 3 meetings with the Oilers will do that for you.
Still, I’m not entirely sold that I personally want the Ducks to catch the Sharks, or at least I’m a bit indifferent. I mean, it’s been 20 goddamn years – it’s way overdue for the Ducks and Kings to finally meet up as playoff opponents for the first time ever, and I wouldn’t mind locking in that matchup in a fairly high-profile year for the rivalry. Transform that Dodger Stadium experience (minus the KISS) into a best-of-seven series, and it could really be something to remember (or drink heavily to not remember). Obviously it’d be a series that would be beyond devastating for either team’s fanbase to lose, but it feels like it’s time to finally put those stakes on the ice, right?
Plus it’s kind of a year where it could go either way – who will win out, Team Corsi or Team PDO?
Anyways, enough crazy talk – last week I drew two panels, so this week I’m classic-Sleek recycling, this time from October 2010.
This season the Ducks have utilized eleven different defensemen, and that does not include two from last year’s playoffs (Toni Lydman, retired, and Sheldon Souray, living in perpetual injury). Two young prospects have filled a lot of those minutes – Sami Vatanen (8 NHL games experience prior to this season) and Hampus Lindholm (0). But their inexperience doesn’t seem to be hurting the Ducks – every game this season has featured at least one of the young blueliners (usually Hampus), and when both are dressed the results are pretty phenomenal.
With both Lindholm and Vatanen in the lineup, the Ducks are playing at a 129-standings-points pace, outscoring opponents by 4 goals every 3 games. Certainly some of that has to do with coaching decisions – Boudreau might be dressing both against more manageable opponents – but certainly nice to see some young prospects turning themselves into NHLers.
Of course, even with those results, there’s no guarantee that the playoff Ducks will utilize both players at once – the Ducks continue to juggle those two along with Beauchemin, Robidas, Fowler (once he returns from injury), Lovejoy, Allen, Sbisa, and Fistric. So in a fully-healthy scenario (a rarity for Anaheim), three defensemen will sit each game – I guess this year, the webbed “D” stands for “depth”.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
3rd PLACE, 43-25-6, 92 POINTS
@TheRoyalHalf from The Royal Half
With impressive victories this past week over the Florida Panthers, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins… I just wonder how opposing teams are looking at the Los Angeles Kings right now.
That GIF above is the 2nd most awkward thing that I saw in the Pacific Division this past week.
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) March 26, 2014
— The Royal Half (@theroyalhalf) March 26, 2014
4th PLACE, 36-26-12, 84 POINTS
@CarlPutnam from Five For Howling
Phoenix faced Eastern Conferences opponents in all four games contests this past week and continued their run of getting early leads each game.
#Coyotes have scored 1st in 11 of 14 games in March. And 2 of the 3 times they didn't were against Boston, so those don't even really count.
— Luke Lapinski (@LukeLapinski) March 27, 2014
The flip side is the Desert Dogs also continued their run of blowing said leads. This pattern has led to the team unwittingly created the easiest drinking game ever. As soon as the Coyotes are up by 2 goals, drink, then keep drinking until the end of the game.
— Greg (@gregdunaway) March 28, 2014
The week started off with a home game against the Eastern Conference leading Boston Bruins.
Even OEL’s magnificence couldn’t contain the Bruins and the Yotes lost 4-2. It was the last time all week Phoenix would fail to get points against an opponent.
The boys from the Valley of the Sun headed East for their last three game roadie. The trip started with a Monday game at MSG. Phoenix lost goaltender Mike Smith to injury and then the game itself in OT. Smith’s injury was serious enough that he didn’t play the rest of the week. No reason to panic.
In his 16 appearances this season, Thomas Greiss has a .940 5v5 save %. #coyotes
— Carl Putnam (@CarlPutnam) March 25, 2014
Given the rather poor performances in the game against New York, Coach Dave Tippett sat center Mike Ribeiro and defensemen Derek Morris for the final two games of the trip against the Penguins and Devils. As with the situation with Smith there was no reason to panic. The Coyotes ability to spread the offensive wealth around comes in handy when guys get stuck in the press box or training room.
The #Coyotes lead the NHL with 8 players with 40+ points (Yandle, Vrbata, Boedker, Ribeiro, Vermette, Doan, Hanzal, OEL)
— Greg Dillard (@GregDillard) March 27, 2014
Phoenix won both games, grabbed 5 of a possible 6 points on their trip and extended their lead over the 9th place Dallas Stars.
Coyotes never trailed on road trip. Not for a single second. Lost in OT to NYR when led wire to wire. Never trailed in PIT or NJ. Unreal.
— Jerry Brown (@FrozenRubber) March 28, 2014
They also proved why people in the desert place their faith in this fine looking fella.
The Coyotes play five of their final eight games at home including Saturday night’s battle with the Minnesota Wild for 7th place in the West and a Monday game against the Winnipeg Jets Version 2.0. On Wednesday, the Yotes travel to the Staples Center where they hope to repeat their March 17th performance.
5th PLACE, 34-30-11, 79 POINTS
@PetBugs13 from Canucks Army
Oh for God’s sakes, can’t the Canucks catch a break? On top of all the other trials, tribulations, injuries and embarrassments the Canucks have had to suffer through this year, now this:
I mean, as if Luongo hasn’t been through enough alrea…wait, what’s that you say?
Oh, never mind then. Carry on.
Well, not quite. There was also this that happened:
And I couldn’t agree more. That WAS a ridiculous call. I have no opinion on the referees, however.
Now, where were we. Oh yeah. The Canucks are still sitting three or four moral victories out of a playoff spot in the Bestern Conference. This despite the fact they managed to string together fou wins over the last week, and are undefeated in five. Yeah, they lost in a shootout last night, so what? Shootouts are dumb and I’ve resolved to simply ignore them.
Anyway, DESPITE all that, they didn’t really make up any ground in the Wild Card race because Phoenix has put together a little streak of their own. I’m starting to think that it’s the Wild that are the team to catch in the Wild Card race. There’s a joke in there somewhere, but I’m way past deadline and keeping The Royal Half from more important things, like finding pictures of Jeff Carter in a suit or something.
And of course, the Stars are still in there with three games in hand. And I just have this feeling that one way or another, the Canucks are going to miss the playoffs because of games in hand:
Bottom line is the Canucks are going to have to pass two of those three teams to just sneak into the playoffs, thus giving up a chance at a half decent draft pick and having to face the…wait, they would play the Blues? OK, let’s go ‘nucks! You can do this!!
Finally, I don’t want to steal Flooby’s thunder, but I can’t let this week go buy without saying something about our friends in Edmonton:
6th PLACE, 30-36-7, 67 POINTS
@BookOfLoob from Flames Nation
UPDATED NHL POWER RANKINGS
1. Your Calgary Flames
I don’t know how power rankings work, or what they even are, so you’re just going to have to trust my math on this one.
But it does seem like everyone is all of a sudden back in the Flames corner these days, and who can blame them? A team low on talent, but mighty in work ethic, they are such the quintessential underdog that the Notre Dame University Football team carried them off the field after the final game of the 1975 season against Georgia Tech.
The Calgary Flames (#45), catches their breath in a rare break in play
Much like the contributions of Rudy in his only match as an on field contributor for Notre Dame, the Flames success has come at a time where it is virtually meaningless. Their season, for all intents and purposes, is over. It’s a period of evaluation for the future, for reflection on where things went wrong, and, least fun of all, for pride.
Still, it’s nice to see the team perform better than expected and show that the rebuild is not going to take as long as, say, this:
a discarded Edmonton hockey sweater, commonly referred to as an Oil Drop
The best part, of course, is getting to retroactively go back and laugh at all the tweets from beleaguered Edmonton media sensation Dan Tencer, who does not think much of the Calgary Flames:
Flames season about to start. Do you have your rearview mirrors dusted off, Oilers fans?
— Dan Tencer (@dantencer) January 20, 2013
It'll be between Calgary and Buffalo for 30th. This Flames team is just horrendous.
— Dan Tencer (@dantencer) January 8, 2014
(this has become my new favourite hobby, and in fact, I intend to find more of them and feature them in intrepid hockey periodicals in the near future)
Anyway, this spirit and enthusiasm has captured the hockey world at large, and even the normally passive Scotiabank Saddledome finds themselves boisterously taking part, as the Flames, who went 2-2 this past week, including a tremendously exciting victory over somehow current Pacific Division top seed San Jose Sharks, and did manage to score 17 goals over those 4 games (Thanks, Victor Fasth!)
I mean I guess Anaheim beat them to close out the week, and I’ll take the blame for that one, as I may have chirped my good buddy Earl a little bit the week before after the powerhouse Flames hung 7 goals on the THEN somehow Pacific Division Top Seed. My bad guys.
My predictions for the Flames this year was that they were going to make a very good team miss the playoffs, and nothing I’ve seen from them in the past few weeks has deterred me from that prediction. Aside from the fact that the best team at this point they could possibly prevent from making it in is Dallas, soooo… However, uncharacteristically, Calgary does play a good number of Eastern teams still in the hunt, and could very well affect the standings in that hilariously shitty conference, and can help aid in the current free fall of the Toronto Maple Leafs, which, if they miss the playoffs at the hands of the Flames, will be a bigger season highlight than any number of 8-1 drubbings of the Oilers you can think of (and I can think of at least one, which I’m sure Mr. Jean Shorts will address in the basement apartment below that he has occupied all year)
I guess that’s it. #Flames2015 is a go.
7th PLACE, 25-39-9, 59 POINTS
“Well at least losing to the Sabres means the Oilers have OFFICIALLY hit whatever comes after rock bottom, and there’s pretty much no way anything worse than that can happen this season.”
Between cementing their status as the absolute worst of the worst in the NHL over the last decade, the mind numbingly dumb WATER BOTTLE-GATE non-incident that won’t seem to die, ANOTHER unoriginal idiot throwing a jersey on the ice (IT DEFINITELY MADE A DIFFERENCE 3 MONTHS AGO LET’S TOTALLY KEEP DOING IT GANG! *shoves own fist down throat*), and the fact the Oilers play 8 of their remaining 9 games against playoff bound teams, I think it’s fairly safe to say the last month of the Edmonton Oilers 2013-14 season has not been, and will continue to not be a particularly fun one. As a wise and SUPER handsome man once said;
FUCK THIS TEAM.
*I am Ben Scrivens, the jersey is this season, and the crowd is a Sarlacc pit*
92 Days Until The Draft
TRH WILD CARD WATCH™
— Conor Wassmuth (@ConorWassmuth) March 27, 2014
Huh, so Calgary have played their last 22 games at a 104 point pace.
— mc79hockey (@mc79hockey) March 27, 2014
Boy, Calgary sure knows how to bookend a season, huh?
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!