PACIFIC WAR ROOM – 10.3.14
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 alpahbetical order of the teams in the Pacific Division… we present the first installment of Pacific War Room for the 2014-15 NHL Season!
Hello, Halfers of Royal Persuasion! Sleek here, returning for another stint covering the Anaheim Ducks, who are 2-0 under Bruce Boudreau when it comes to winning the Pacific Division but also 0-2 under him in Game Sevens. Fortunately, this War Room gig only runs during the regular season, so hooray for that, I guess.
This offseason, the Ducks parted ways with a lot of players from last year’s team – Wonder Finns Teemu Selänne and Saku Koivu retired, but strangely everybody else was shipped off to Canada. Stephane Robidas and Daniel Winnik signed with the Leafs, Jonas Hiller signed with the Flames, Mathieu Perreault signed with the Jets, and Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa were traded off to the Canucks.
As for acquisitions, Anaheim brought in two centers via trade, Ryan Kesler from Vancouver and Nate Thompson from Tampa Bay, before entering free agency with a strangely singular focus – to acquire as many Minnesota Wild players as possible. The Ducks ended up poaching two Wild players, Clayton Stoner and Dany Heatley, which means I get to redraw an old Sleektoon from the summer of 2011.
Anyways, Anaheim’s plan this season is to ride two main lines centered by Ryan Getzlaf and Kesler, let Andrew Cogliano work some speed on the third line, then rely like crazy on a bunch of talented kids. It may work, but man, there’s a lot of youth.
In net, Frederik Andersen and John Gibson have combined for only 42 career NHL games, 31 in the regular season plus 11 in the playoffs. (The Ducks did also cheaply add former King Jason LaBarbera, who brings another 182 games of regular season experience, but he has yet to play a playoff game himself.)
On the blueline, Cam Fowler is 22, Hampus Lindholm is 20, and Sami Vatanen is 23. Up front, Jakob Silfverberg, Matt Beleskey, Pat Maroon, Kyle Palmieri, Emerson Etem, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Rickard Rakell all are between 21 and 26 years old.
So yes, a lot of Anaheim’s success this season will depend on the performance of its raw but talented youth. But hey, at least this season Boudreau can give kids minutes without Teemu yelling at him for it.
Preseason recap: Ducks opened their preseason by winning both ends of a split-squad game against the Avalanche, then have lost every game since. Shrug! :)
PANCAKE WATCH: Honestly, I have no idea what Dustin Penner is doing this coming season. Either retiring to Finland or signing to play for a Canadian team, I’d guess.
@CarlPutnam from Five For Howling
After two years in a row of not making the playoffs, the Coyotes have had a busy offseason. We’re just not sure all the moves the franchise made will equal a return to the playoffs in the spring of 2015.
The team officially finally dumped the name ‘Phoenix’ for ‘Arizona’, just as their neighbors across Maryland Avenue did 20 years earlier. When the Bidwells make an intelligent marketing move two decades before your team does, you can assume your previous owners were just as clueless as you thought they were in the first place.
Speaking of owners, the new guys apparently have an unsolicited suitor who wants to reward their intelligence for buying Arizona’s NHL club just last summer. Charles Wang truly is the gift who keeps on giving (Offer not valid in Nassau County). If the guy decides to infuse the club with more cash, i.e. let’s GMDM finally spend to the cap, I’m all for it.
There were plenty of players changes as well this summer. Thomas Greiss left to see if he could take Marc-Andre Fleury’s job in Pittsburgh. We’re guessing he can. Low bar there and all. The team couldn’t get a deal done with Radim Vrbata, even though it appeared he was willing to less money to stay in Phoenix. He should only come back to haunt them in every game they play against his new club, division rival Vancouver. I’m sure Petbugs already has a venn diagram queued up.
In addition, the club, not surprisingly, didn’t offer free agent veterans Derek Morris, Jeff Halpern, and hockey’s biggest Twitter aficionado, Paul Bissonette, new contracts. Morris and Halpern’s careers may be over and Biz is easily replaceable on the ice.
Finally there was the pièce de résistance, buying out Mike Ribeiro’s ill-fated contract due to the center’s seemingly never ending ‘behavioral’ problems. He was sent to live on the Island of Misfit Centers located on the Cumberland River in Tennessee.
The franchise will replace Morris from within, either by having Michael Stone step into a bigger role or by elevating talented, but green guy like Connor Murphy. The Coyotes blueline will not lack lack for talent, but it will lack for experience. Let the roller coaster ride in the D zone commence.
Greiss will be replaced by former Edmonton starter Devyn Dubnyk. Desert Dogs goalie whisperer Sean Burke should be able to help Dubs overcome any mental issues created by playing behind the sieve that was the Oilers defense in recent years.
Halpern’s replacement as 4th line center is former Penguin Joe Vitale. The Ribs and Biz restaurant is being replaced by veterans Sam Gagner and B.J. Crombeen. Though it looks like Gagner may actually be moving to wing. The Coyotes figured out in less than one month what the Oilers couldn’t figure out in 7 years. The guy is not cut out to play center in the NHL. To be fair, it’s one of about 99 things Edmonton hasn’t figured out in recent years including how the CBA works.
In other words, Arizona is going to need an above average Mike Smith in order to gain a postseason berth. The new guys on the roster should be able to replicate most of the production of their predecessors, but don’t expect much more than that. It could be worse though. The Yotes could have signed old men and face punchers like the Sharks or they could be the Flames.
Sportsnet is going to broadcast some CWHL this season, so we might be able to watch a competitive Calgary hockey team on TV for once
— Soccer Style Kicker (@bookofloob) September 30, 2014
I would tell you about the Coyotes pre-season in detail, but it would be a waste of both of our times. They won. They lost. They drew. None of it meant a thing unless you were youngster like Max Domi.
Another great experience in Arizona! Can't wait to get back at it with the boys in London! http://t.co/ugEgt7B3LR
— Max Domi (@max_domi) October 2, 2014
@PhoenixCoyotes This team is an utter joke. The relationship with Max Domi has been destroyed. He knows he made the team and won't forget.
— David Klann (@David_Klann) October 2, 2014
As you can see, Max took being sent back to Juniors better than some in the Coyotes fanbase did.
The Coyotes open the regular season at home against a team whose front office seemingly all died of exposure before free agency opened, the Winnipeg Jets 2.0.
Though I’m not sure why there is going to be a season? Apparently, the Cup winner has already been determined.
SHUT UP HALF!
@BookOfLoob from Flames Nation
Here I am, in the second season of the Pacific War Room, writing about the Calgary Flames when I’m still waiting to be paid for Season One. I must be some kind of masochist.
After all, I spend my days living the life of a Calgary Flames fan.
Which is why, for this season, it feels different. Unsettling. There are feelings lingering inside me that I am unfamiliar with, and it took me a long time to come to grasp what that sensation was.
It was hope.
Certainly not for this upcoming season, no, that’s going to collapse like the price of Los Angeles Kings tickets when they go on their first three game losing streak. (I’m pretty obviously still in preseason form here, I promise you I get better at this. I think. I probably don’t)
Anyway, the hope, now more than ever, rests in a future version of the Calgary Flames, one who will be good despite Brian Burke’s best efforts to the contrary. I live now in a beautiful world now where I know that I am a paltry few seasons away from watching Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett, Sean Monahan, TJ Brodie, Sven Baertschi, Jon Gillies, and at least one other can’t miss Top 5 pick, plus whatever 7th rounder they end up getting when they trade away Mark Jankowski all in the same lineup at the same time. With any luck, by that time Brandon Bollig and Brian McGrattan will be returned to their respective zoos and fed peanuts by terrified yet adoring schoolchildren, but I don’t want to get too greedy.
In the meantime, we have this stupid 2014-15 hockey campaign to get through, so I guess we can talk about that.
As you know, hockey is about math. It was the summer of corsi, as everyone knows, and now I’m here to impart upon you some of the fanciest math I know how: addition and subtraction.
The Flames added Mason Raymond (good), Jonas Hiller (probably good), Devon Setoguchi (THE GOOCH!), and —– ——— (sorry, that’s my language filter kicking in. That’s supposed to say —– ———. Damn it. Let’s call him Bleryk Fengellant, an expensive facepunching 6th or 7th defenseman). Raphael Diaz is also in town on a professional tryout and as of this this writing has not been offered a contract, but based on his play, the rave reviews from coach Bob Hartley, and the fact that he’d slot in as the fourth best defenseman on this team immediately, I expect him to not receive one anytime soon because this is Calgary and he weighs less than 200 pounds.
On the other hand, Mike Cammalleri skipped town. We all knew it was happening, but it still hurt. That’s a lot of offense no longer on your squad, but we all knew he wanted a chance to win a Stanley Cup, so WAIT HE WENT WHERE???
I’m having a devil of a time trying to figure out what he was thinking here
Outside of BLAMmalleri, the other subtractions are less tear-jerking, unless you’re me and you can’t stop lamenting the loss of your one and only, THE Blair Jones, who never got a chance to sign (David Jones, that asshole, has inherited Blair’s old #19, presumably for symmetry, but it’s tainted, man, in the sense that David Jones is a taint). Losing Chris Butler immediately makes the blueline better (Ladi Smid notwithstanding), while nobody knows who Ben Street or Joey MacDonald even are.
What this leaves us with, overall, is a better version of the Flames who are still going to be pretty bad, but you see the shape of things to come starting to form. This season could very well be the dawning of the Johnny Hockey Era:
he’s becoming self-aware
Players like Gaudreau and Baertschi have made it really hard to keep them off the roster this year, and similar strong play from Marklus Granlund before a concussion had people ready to buy his Calgary jersey too. The kids are alright, and a few of them are going to be knocking on the door all season wondering if they can maybe go for a skate with the grown ups. And they will. Mix that in with improved goaltending, which Jonas Hiller will provide seeing as he’s not Reto Berra, and baby, you’ve got a stew going. Especially while Brodie, Mark Giordano, and Mikael Backlund keep on secretly being amazing and driving the bus. So while the team won’t be bad enough this year to land Connor McDavid, as it’s going to be difficult to out-suck Buffalo and Winnipeg (now more than ever!), this likely improvement is a good thing.
Just not now.
Well, well, well. Here we are again. Crisp fall air. Everything is pumpkin flavoured for some reason. After a 45 month long regular season MLB games finally matter. And most exciting of all HOCKEY IS BACK!! That’s right, we’ve spent the last two weeks asking ourselves “Wait what is that kids name?” “How high of a draft pick did we waste on this guy?” “WE SPENT HOW MUCH TO SIGN HIM IN THE SUMMER?” “Why is the whole team wearing nothing but 80s and 90s?” and so on and so forth.
Now, ideally I’d write a 7500 word dossier on all the new Oilers we’ll be seeing this year. How great of a camp and pre-season Leon Draisaitl has had. How Ben Scrivens somehow got even smarter and more handsome over the summer.
HOWEVER, as many of you know I’m kind of in the middle of picking my life up and moving back to the ice planet Hoth. So I haven’t really had a ton of time to catch up on how things are going so far in the preseason. This tweet basically sums up where I’m at in terms of “knowledge” about my “favorite” “hockey team.”
I honestly didn't even realize Belov wasn't on the team anymore….
— Jeanshorts #94 (@JSBMjeanshorts) October 2, 2014
I will say that I do think the Oilers will finally take a step forward this year. They look to have two competent goalies, which is slightly different than the “20 mediocre goalies on a regular rotation as if they’re a pitching staff” that we saw last year, or the “three terrible goalies we all hate” strategy during the early Tambellini era.
They signed a couple of, from what I’ve read, ACTUAL NHL defensemen to fill out the back end, though unfortunately we’re still left without a true number one (or two) D-Man, but, I mean, not EVERY team has a number one D-Man, right?
And the core of kids are now of legal drinking and voting age!!!
I still believe they’ll be just outside the playoff picture looking in this season, but I’m going to make a bold prediction and say they’ll finish 4-6 points out of the final playoff spot in the West.
And I think by now we all know what that means: They’re gonna finish 29th!!!
LOS ANGELES KINGS
@PumperNicholl from The Royal Half
So remember last season?
*lights victory cigar*
Deal with it, Pacific Division.
With essentially the entire roster returning to defend their title, the LA Kings looked poised to make, yet another, Stanley Cup run.
…And as a lifelong fan, typing that sentence makes absolutely zero sense.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
@Stace_ofBase from Battle of California
Greetings and salutations, my friends!
My name is Stace and I’ll be covering the San Jose Sharks for the Pacific War Room this season. I assume that I was asked to write for the wonderful Royal Half blog because I’m the next best thing to an ice girl. I recently took over as the Sharks writer at Battle of California because San Jose’s historic playoff collapse caused the previous writer to die of a broken heart. We miss her so much, RIP Meg.
Me joining the Battle of California was the first of many panic moves that Sharks blogs and the organization itself made over the offseason. Let’s take a moment to reflect!
1) Sharks canned Drew Remenda. I’m not really sure how this is supposed to help them beat the Los Angeles Kings, but Drew is taking it pretty well!
Getting rid of all my Sharks stuff. Came across an original from Year 1. Don't think I will let it go. pic.twitter.com/hkvGIdVEAQ
— Drew Remenda (@DRemenda) September 22, 2014
*never stops tugging collar*
2) Sharks acquired ice girls. While I wasn’t excited about this in the beginning, the possibly of a juggalo night is absolutely delicious!
3) Sharks acquire two-time goal scorer John Scott. By making the bottom-six worse, the Sharks will surely beat the Kings by having John Scott beat up Jeff Carter so bad that his skating ability becomes almost as bad as Scott Hannan’s.
4) Speaking of Scott Hannan, he got re-signed because being good in the room is more important than having any actual skill! He is old, slow, and makes practically anyone he is paired with significantly worse. Pretty exciting stuff!
5) Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were stripped of their letters, and since the Sharks broke up with Dan Boyle, there’s no captains as of right now. McLellan made statements about how there are going to be 23 captains this year but I’m pretty sure that’s not allowed? I’ll have to check and let you know.
6) They extended Mike Brown’s contract and gave him a raise because he is now playoff goal scorer Mike Brown.
Now surprisingly the Sharks did make a few good moves this offseason so let’s reflect. THEY GOT A SECOND ROUND PICK AND A SIXTH ROUND PICK FOR BRAD STUART HAHAHAHAHAHAH *breeeeathe* okay phew, got that out of my system. They extended Braun and Stalock for very reasonable terms and they were FINALLY able to buyout Havlat. So the offseason wasn’t a complete loss, but it was still pretty bad.
I have to be honest, I was kind of excited for preseason. After everything that has happened this summer, I guess you could just call it morbid curiosity. But then this happened:
Tom Sestito and John Scott just dropped the gloves. Big scrap from two big boys. Still a 0-0 game, shots are 9-1 Sharks. #Stockton
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) September 24, 2014
….And Stace never followed a preseason game again *closes book*
Season prediction: Sharks will have promising regular season, get like four banners, and make me cry on my birthday in late April.
@PetBugs13 from Canucks Army
Hey, how did I wind up all the way down here already?
Man, this really is rock bottom. Usually we get to land on the Oilers and Flames. #sigh
Anyway, for some reason I once again agreed to the weekly humiliation that is the Pacific War Room. I’m not sure why I do this to myself…oh yeah. I’m a Canucks’ fan. Membership has it’s privileges, apparently.
But given the calibre of the rest of the gang of misfits up above, I’m pretty sure that none of you actually managed to keep reading all the way down here. So I’m going to start off this season of the Pac War Room the way I finished off the last: by mailing it in!
Heck, it’s still the pre-season. This is all still meaningless, right?
Hey, why does that curve up again at the end of the seaso…oh. Yeah. #sigh
Now, in case you haven’t heard, the motto for this year’s edition of your lovable Vancouver Canucks is “Change is coming” and boy is it ever. In addition to a new President, GM and coach, two key veteran players from the Canucks’ Stanley Cup run are also gone.
I know I’ve tried to block it out, but if you remember, everyone’s favourite whipping boy, Roberto Luongo, was run out town by John Tortorella just ahead of the trading deadline last season. And he’s been replaced by another guy who had a similar performance in high pressure games in Vancouver:
Yeah. This should end well.
You know what? Let’s just pencil you in there, Ryan:
Coincidentally enough, the other big change also involves an American Ryan. Everyone’s favourite tumbleweeder, Ryan Kesler, was traded at the draft and now plies his trade for the Ducks. Wait, did I say “favourite”? Because we hate that guy:
Now, the Canucks didn’t exactly get much back for Kesler when the trade finally happened. Much of this has to do with the fact he was a giant douchebag demanded a trade but said he would only waive his No Trade Clause if he was sent to the Ducks.
There wasn’t much speculation about why he chose the Ducks, exactly. The official story is that he feels that’s the team he thought had best chance to win. So we all know that can’t be it.
I don’t want to get sued speculate, but let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody wound up on an episode or two of the Real Housewives of Orange County:
But I’m sure his new teammates will discover soon enough, that he is great in the room!
So yes, I guess we can already say that the Canucks have lived up to their expectations. Change has come. I guess that’s why I feel like they’re fucked.
By the way, if you want to laugh at the Canucks all season but don’t want to have to read all the way to the bottom of the Pac War Room every week, get yourself an authentic Graphic Comments 2014-15 calendar. And while you’re at it, buy the Leafs one too! It’s even more fun to laugh at them.
TRH PRE-SEASON WATCH™
Edmonton is still good at defense, I see. pic.twitter.com/SzHLLjUicN
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 3, 2014
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!