PACIFIC WAR ROOM – 4.14.14


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 the final Pacific War Room of the 2013-14 NHL Season for the week of April 14th, 2014.

 

ANAHEIM DUCKS
1st PLACE, 54-20-8, 116 POINTS
PLAYOFF SPOT CLINCHED
@EarlSleek

 

Bow before your Western Conference overlords – the Anaheim Ducks!

Early last week, that looked less certain, as the Ducks began with a pair of regulation losses to the Predators and the Oilers, along with a short-term injury to rookie goalie Frederik Andersen.  So the Ducks did what Anaheim tends to do in these situations – they said some magic words and a new young goaltender appeared.  How young is John Gibson?  Well, Teemu Selänne scored 76 goals his rookie season – the following summer John Gibson was born.

The fact that Gibson stopped all 18 shots he faced in Vancouver was fairly impressive, but the fact that he also got GM Mike Gillis fired in the process makes it a really historic debut for the kid.  The next game against the Sharks, with the conference title on the line, Boudreau went to Gibson again, and the kid won his second start as well.

Andersen was able to return to the net for a shootout win in L.A., which clinched the western conference top seed for the Ducks, while still preserving the Jennings Trophy for the Kings.  Then in the season finale against the Avalanche, when many thought Hiller would finally get a pre-playoff start, Boudreau went to Gibson again, and once again the kid won.  Though that night, the stars were really scoreless forward Teemu Selänne and losing goalie J.S. Giguere.

So what’s the reward for the Ducks in winning the west and avoiding first-round matchups against the Sharks or the Kings?  The Pacific Division’s prodigal team returns.

StarsReturn

The Dallas Stars are a pretty tough draw for Anaheim in a lot of ways – they certainly gave the Ducks fits in the three meetings they had this season, though a lot of that was on the back of now-departed Dan Ellis, who (through his former-Duck-ness) was impressive in net in their two wins.  Strangely, Kari Lehtonen has yet to face a Ducks shot this season.  And the Stars have been playing excellent hockey of late in fighting to even make the playoffs; the Ducks have picked up their wins, too, but there’s been a lot of third period comebacks in there.

But there are no easy paths to the Cup through this western conference, and the Stars are at least due some revenge from 2008.  Who will start in net for the Ducks?  I’m not sure!  Now that Cam Fowler is back, which six defensemen should Anaheim dress?  I don’t know!  How will the series play out among its power duos – Getzlaf and Perry vs. Seguin and Benn?  Tough to say!

Can’t wait – series starts Wednesday.

 

 

SAN JOSE SHARKS
2nd PLACE, 51-22-9, 111 POINTS
PLAYOFF SPOT CLINCHED
@FearTheFin from Fear the Fin

 

And so we’ve reached the finish line of another regular season, with the Sharks unfortunately falling short of raising another President’s Trophy, Pacific Division or, my personal favorite, Regular Season Western Conference Champions banner to the rafters.

Despite that, this was easily San Jose’s best season in three years as they finished strong to claim second place in the new-look Pacific and will surely be able to ease their way into the playoffs as a result, drawing some pitiful first-round fodder…oh, crap, really? The Kings? In the first round?

This new playoff format really is the absolute worst. There are very few teams in the league better than the Sharks but one of them is probably Los Angeles. This is more or less the worst-case scenario, unless you’re a hockey fan who enjoys watching two elite teams with recent postseason history who completely despise each other go at it for (probably) seven hate-filled games. The prospect of playing L.A. is terrifying but the Sharks’ Game 1 lineup is looking to be the most healthy lineup they’ve iced all year, with Tomas Hertl and Raffi Torres (both of whom have plenty of Kings-related history) likely to both draw into the same game for the first time this season. Whether or not that will be enough to beat the Kings remains to be seen but at least the first-ever Pacific Division Playoffs will open with a bang.

 

 

LOS ANGELES KINGS
3rd PLACE, 45-27-6, 96 POINTS
PLAYOFF SPOT CLINCHED
@TheRoyalHalf from The Royal Half

 

To be honest… I love the new NHL Playoff system. Because I haven’t given a rats ass about the NHL regular season since the LA Kings clinched a playoff spot on April 3rd. Seriously… there has been hardly any content here at TRH because who cares? The regular season is for losers! (See the teams below for more information on that)

But you know what does get me excited? Dumb quotes from the 1st Round opponent of the Los Angeles Kings, that’s what!

Bring on the Playoffs, bitches!

 

 

PHOENIX COYOTES
4th PLACE, 37-30-15, 89 POINTS
@CarlPutnam from Five For Howling

 

Going on a seven game losing streak prior to winning their final game of the season scores the Phoenix Coyotes their choice of tee times this April for the second season in a row.

coyotesgolf

Hopefully the franchise’s on-ice talent will avoid heavily wooded golf courses. The last thing the team needs is another player getting bit by tick.

When the Desert Dogs return in September they will find ‘Arizona’ on their jerseys. Will there also be a new game plan and/or new faces to go along with the new moniker?

 

 

VANCOUVER CANUCKS
5th PLACE, 36-35-11, 83 POINTS
@PetBugs13 from Canucks Army

 

 

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CALGARY FLAMES
6th PLACE, 35-40-7, 77 POINTS
@BookOfLoob from Flames Nation

 

I am so glad this fucking season is over.

I know as a hockey fan it’s real sacrilegious to say such a thing, but hey, if you’re a hockey fan in Alberta who is sticking it out with your team, I feel that qualifies you for sainthood.

iggybruins

(goddamn it)

Let me tell you something about Floob. He’s a masochist. He loves all the unlovable loser teams. The Flames. The New York Jets. The Toronto Blue Jays. Losing is his jam. He talks in the third person..

I’m a soccer fan too (no wait, keep reading America!). I’ve been a Liverpool supporter my entire life, which means for most of my life, my favourite soccer team has been dogshit. But this year, this year is different. With 4 games left in the Premiership season, the Reds are in the driver’s seat atop the table, and the Championship is theirs to lose.

Every game on the quest for that elusive title has been breathtaking. Edge of your seat stuff. Because the games have mattered. It’s late in the season and Liverpool is playing MEANINGFUL soccer and it’s exhilarating.

I had forgotten what that felt like. I don’t ever want to give it up but it’s been so long since I’ve backed a winner that the emotions are unfamiliar. They won the Champion’s League in 2005, a year after the Calgary Flames came within a game of cementing the year as the greatest I will have ever lived by winning a Stanley Cup. If you’re doing the math, that’s TEN YEARS. No one knew who Barack Obama was. People talked about Paris Hilton. I mean I guess SNL still isn’t funny, so that’s a bad example, but you get the idea.

Facebook-2004

Just who in the hell was this guy anyway?

Back then we were just happy to see them make the playoffs. Now, we’re unsure if it’ll ever happen again.

I know there’s a brighter future ahead for the Flames, but it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Next season, well as much as they say they’re not doing to tank out to get Connor McDavid, I’m just not sure there’s much of a chance. As Flames fans, we’ll still have to endure another season of Brian McGrattan, of David Jones, Ladislav Smid, and probably somehow Chris Butler. A year of Brian Burke getting his jollies off to making the team bigger without acknowledging the lack of skill, another year of worrying how they’re going to bungle the goaltending, about if Sven Baertschi will be a pariah again.

michael-j-pollard-scrooged-1

things have been relatively icy during Brian Burke’s (pictured) first season in Calgary

It’s hell being a Flames fan. The team is bad and the network that has their local broadcast rights is even worse. This is the time of year where we have to choose a bandwagon for a playoff bound team (Iggy’s in Boston, so, uh, derr), and that’s an exercise that we’re all getting just a little TOO familiar with.

There’s hope though. Reasons to be optimistic. The Flames have 19 or 20 solid goaltending prospects, and with a lack of depth at D, that’s a good thing.The prospect cupboards are starting to fill up again and there’s even some top shelf product in there, with your Monahan jam and your Gaudreau syrup and Sven swiss cheese. These are all things, I’m sure.

Gaudreau_John

Hero

junkowski

not so much.

It’s all we can do, is be hopeful for the future. But it sure as hell doesn’t make it easier now when you see McGrattan leading his team in ice time.

If you’re reading all this and thinking “reviewing the Flames season week by week amid all this failure must be really taking a toll on this guy’s mental faculties”, well you’d be right, tiny rainbow unicorn who won’t stop staring at me. But at the same time, it’s been an real honour sharing a space with who I would consider to be 6 outstanding writers, and I can’t thank the Half enough for letting me be a part of it. It truly has been the highlight of the season for me (because LOLOLOL the highlight hasn’t been the Flames!), and despite the fact that it was a challenge to get anything submitted on time before it was comically overdue, throwing up my piece on this team all year was a lot of fun. So thanks to all these guys, even those of you assholes who get to keep writing about your stupid playoff bound team and your ridiculous coastal weather and whatever elitist prick things you all do down in California. Whatever man, I don’t care.

/drinks everything

 

 

EDMONTON OILERS
7th PLACE, 25-39-9, 59 POINTS
@JSBMrevolution

 

Coming into the 2013-14 NHL season I expected the Oilers to finish around 10th in the Western Conference, somewhere between 4 and 8 points out of a playoff spot. In the conversation but not quite ready to head to the dance, you know? How did things actually turn out?

EakinsJSBMWarRoom

Let’s just say the season DID NOT start out the way most Oiler fans were hoping.

Two games in and fans are already demanding trades, the media is questioning weather or not it was a mistake to draft Yakupov over Murray, and the entire season is basically over because it’s not like there are still 80 games left or anything and we might as well just start thinking of clever draft slogans that rhyme with Reinhart (Beer Farts For Reinhart? It’s a work in progress…)

Looks like I may have been a little overzealous on the whole “THERE’S STILL AN ENTIRE SEASON LEFT TO PLAY DUMMIES NOTHING IS OVER YET!” thing…. But in my defense they weren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs until, like, AT LEAST game 15!

As we all know it continued to go downhill from there, leaving Oiler fans with that all too familiar feeling that is akin to being punched in the gut repeatedly while watching your dog get put down, something we’ve grown so accustomed to these last 7 (8? I’ve honestly lost track) years.

Another year out of the playoffs. Another year drafting in the top 5. Another year questioning past draft picks. Another year screaming for the coach, the GM, the POHO, the PBP guys, the DJ, the guy who plays drums on turned over buckets outside the Stadium LRT station, et al to be fired. What I’m getting at here is it’s been another SUPER FUN year to be an Oilers fan!

But I’m nothing if not an optimist*! So rather than focusing on all the crap that went wrong this year, like some OTHER blogs, I’m going to talk about the crap that went right!

EVERYONE PLEASE STIFLE YOUR LAUGHTER THERE WERE A FEW THINGS THAT ACTUALLY WEREN’T TERRIBLE THIS YEAR I SWEAR!

Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first (mostly just so The Royal Half doesn’t have to read this whole thing and can finally take his afternoon nap).

#WeAreAllScrivens

I mean, what’s not to love about this guy? Local boy comes home to play for the hometown team in front of all his family and friends, and the Oilers made sure to welcome him the best way they know how:

At least it brought Oiler fans together…

The Professor also provided us with one of the sole highlights of this Edmonton Oilers season, a record setting 59 save shutout against the San Jose Sharks. (In true Oiler fashion he fell one short of making an even 60 saves, but I digress)

Needless to say Oiler fans were PRETTY excited.

When he wasn’t standing on his head he was standing up for his teammates (could not find a video or GIF of him going after Cory Conacher behind the net, but trust me, it happened) and the sanctity of the Oilers jersey!

All of this helped secure Scrivens a shiny new 2 year contract. And while some people had reservations about Scrivens being the Oilers #1 guy going forward due to his inexperience as a starting goaltender, thankfully the Oilers made sure to take care of that in short order.

THE MAC T ERA

There are quite a few people who are not impressed with what Craig MacTavish has accomplished in his first full season as the GM of the Edmonton Oilers, and those people are fucking idiots.

I mean, the Perron and Scrivens trades alone make his first season more successful than all of the Steve Tambellini years combined.

One of the biggest criticisms of Tambellini was his tendency to, how do I put this, not do anything, ever. So fans that were screaming for the team to make trades for the last five years got their wishes granted tenfold this season (and still fucking complained about every move #BecauseOilerFans)

He flushed out redundant deadweight like Mike Brown and Cam Abney, somehow managed to flip Devan Dubnyk for Matt Hendricks and Ben Scrivens, traded fan-favorite Ladislav Smid at the exact right moment, got Viktor Fasth more or less for free, stocked up on a shit ton of (mostly late round) draft picks, and finally granted Ales Hemsky asylum!

The Oilers started the season with the goaltending tandem of Devan Dubnyk and Jason Labarbera, neither of whom are playing in the NHL at this moment, and are going into next season with the duo of Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth. Can we just give MacT the GM Of The Year award now?

There are still a lot of egregious holes needed to be filled (which is also the name of my sex tape), and MacT’s defense by committee strategy (three #5 D-men equal a #2 D-man if my math is correct) flamed out pretty fucking quickly, but I personally like the makeup of the roster heading into the summer much more than I liked it at the beginning of the season. Results on the scoreboard not withstanding, I consider MacT’s first full season as GM to be a successful one and have complete faith this trend will continue this summer and into next season.

THE KINGSTON CANNONBALL

Taylor Hall is amazing and he should have made the All-Star Game last year and should have made the taxi squad for Team Canada and the stupid fucking hockey media and their stupid East Coast Bias® is bullshit!

Barring anything crazy happening over the last remaining days of the season Taylor Hall will finish 12th in league scoring, ahead of the likes of Joe Thornton, Anze Kopitar, Evgeni Malkin, Matt Duchene, Martin St. Louis, Patrick Kane, and so on and so forth. Oh have I mentioned he’s only 22? Yeah, he’s gonna be real fuckin good for a real long time. He’s still got a little maturing to do, but, I mean, could be worse, right?

AND….. Uh, well, that’s pretty much all I’ve got. Look, this is the Edmonton Oilers we’re talking about here, so something is better than nothing.

SOME QUICK POINTS

-       Obviously we all wish things could have gone a little differently for Dallas Eakins this year, and there are tiny doubts starting to creep into my mind that maybe he’s just not a good fit for this team, but I definitely don’t think he should be fired after one god damn season, and I’m confident he’ll use this season as a massive learning experience. I’m excited to see what he brings to the table next season.

-       Again, the defense is a fucking garbage fire, but Klefbom and Marincin have looked solid in their auditions over the last quarter of this season, Darnell Nurse has another year of junior under his belt and is getting some professional experience playing with the Oklahoma City Barons in the AHL, and OH GOD IS THERE ANYWAY WE CAN SOMEHOW WIN THE LOTTERY AGAIN AND DRAFT EKBLAD CAUSE THAT WOULD BE A REAL HELP!

-       As the last remaining member of the Devan Dubnyk Fan Club I would like to wish him all the best and I think we can agree we’d all be better off if we just forgot that this year ever happened. *Buries Fan Club membership card in backyard*

So, again, it’s been another terrible fucking season in Edmonton. And I know I sound like a broken record at this point, and with the precedent established over the last 4 years you’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now, BUT YOU’D BE WRONG, and I feel much more confident about the Oilers heading into next season than I have about any of other roster since, like, fuck, 06?  Well, at least I have six months to drink away all these painful memories! SEE YOU SUCKERS NEXT SEASON!

*Peels out in ’84 Datsun. Smashes into tree.*

R.I.P Jeanshorts

*not true, I’m a REAL pessimistic asshole most of the time.

 

TRH WILD CARD WATCH™

PacWarRoomFinal

Thanks to all the amazing Pacific Division Bloggers. Pacific War Room was easily one of the most well-liked new features at TRH this season and I really appreciate these bloggers dedicating their time to this. I’m just sorry that most of them didn’t make the playoffs because of California.

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.