PACIFIC WAR ROOM – 11.21.14

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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 the Pacific Division standings… we present the Pacific War Room for the week of November 21st, 2014!

 

ANAHEIM DUCKS
1st PLACE, 12-4-5, 29 POINTS
@EarlSleek

This weekend will mark the end of the dry scrape, and the Ducks were determined to force as many of them as they could before time ran out. In their last 10 games, Anaheim has gone to overtime 8 times, and though they haven’t done that well in the extra sessions, that’s still standings points getting accumulated while the roster still recovers from the…

Anaheim Mumps

(Note: I didn’t do any research and I don’t really know if these symptoms I’ve drawn represent mumps at all. Go blogging!)

Anaheim actually just got through a stretch where they won only once in a seven-game stretch, but the worst of Mumps Month is hopefully over. Corey Perry and Francois Beauchemin have finally rejoined the team, along with the injured Kyle Palmieri. Ben Lovejoy, Dany Heatley, and John Gibson remain out, but with the emergence of young Josh Manson on their blueline, Anaheim was able to make a trade from one area of depth, sending Bryan Allen to the Canadiens for Rene Bourque.

The hatred some Ducks fans have for Bryan Allen is astounding to me. Yes, he’s a guy who’s pretty much only going to be noticed for his mistakes (hi, Gaborik!), and sometimes those mistakes look atrocious. But he was a key minute-eater and penalty killer on Anaheim’s blueline during a phase when the Ducks were introducing goalies and defensemen to the NHL at a kind of crazy rate. The two seasons Allen spent in Anaheim, the Ducks finished 3rd overall and 2nd overall; this morning they’re again 2nd in total points. Sure, Bryan Allen wasn’t the main driving force for those finishes, but to deny that he was an important part is silly. He’s more expendable now and will be a free agent this summer, so I don’t really mind the trade, but I’m not a guy who’s mad at all at Bryan Allen as a Duck. Not the most skilled guy, but he battled hard, helped kids enter the league, and we won.

As for the other end of the trade, we’ll see what Bourque brings. Hopefully some new disease! :)

 

VANCOUVER CANUCKS
2nd PLACE, 13-6-0, 27 POINTS
@PetBugs13 from Canucks Army

Slow week in Canuckistan this week.

It started with a rather forgetable outing against the Coyotes on Friday, which was so predictable that I, well, predicted it:

Ok, maybe I ddn’t get the score exactly right, but close enough.

The Canucks then had a long layoff, which was perfect because it gave me some time to slow down and really enjoy the Leafs’ car wreck this week. It’s really quite something. But really, the most amazing part of this whole thing is that Randy Carlyle somehow still has a job despite. He keeps saying the palyers need to stick to the game plan, but I’m not sure that’s possible in Toronto:

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Originally appeared at The Sporting News

This is something you Ducks fans will likely understand.

Alas, this is supposed to be about the Canucks, so I’ll have to leave it there for now. But those Leafs, wow.

So after their break, the Canucks took a little jaunt up to Edmonton to take on the Oilers for the fourth time this season. Already. I’m sure this has nothing to do with Vancouver’s inflated record in the standings, but they looted another one goal victory and hightailed it out of town faster than you can say #HereComeTheOilers:

I should add that this was a rather entertaining game. Some might even say it was a riot:

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But they shouldn’t.

Which leads us to the return of Ryan Kesler to his old stomping grounds in Rogers Arena. Again your loveable Canucks faced Kesler and the Ducks on the second night of a back to back and again they put up a spirited performance even after losing a defenseman early in the first. The difference being that this time they couldn’t pull off the shootout victory.

Although if you ask me, they should scrap the shootout and just award the win based on style points in overtime:

(s/t to @myregularface)

And for the record, Kesler wasn’t being booed all night. That was just the Canadian pronunciation of Bo, as the Canucks’ rookie was out against Kesler most of the night and pretty much handed him his lunch in the face-off circle and in the run of play.

Kesler, for his part neatly summed up his experience in Vancouver with this quote (via Jason Botchford, of the Province):

Wouldn’t be the first time….

 

LOS ANGELES KINGS
3rd PLACE, 11-5-4, 26 POINTS
@TheRoyalHalf from The Royal Half

This past week, there was some shocking behavior revealed that will forever change the way the public thinks about a prominent member of the LA Kings organization.

And the response to a mascot wearing a hospital gown was totally justified.

#RIP, Humanity.
Honestly… we should all just choose Plan B from Interstellar.

 

CALGARY FLAMES
4th PLACE, 12-7-2, 26 POINTS
@BookOfLoob from Flames Nation

The Flames confuse me. Everything they do these days doesn’t make sense, because it’s not the 1980s.

Speaking of which, let me explain what I mean with the help of another star from the 1980s: The Flames are here to score goals and chew gum, and they’re all outta gum.

Thanks Roddy.

Much like the Hot Rod Roddy Piper, the Flames so far this season have been entertaining, surprisingly powerful, and have probably too much of a Saskatchewan influence in them than is probably healthy. But as the days roll on and the competition mounts, they remain near the top.

Well, I’ve exhausted this analogy, haven’t I?

The Flames did this kinda of annoying thing all week, where they let their opponents get early first period leads, a ploy I think they do on purpose to get the Saddledome faithful all riled up once they tie it up and ultimately take the lead, which happened in all three games this week. And while it didn’t work (the Dome remains forever a library), it also did work, as your Calgary Flames have learned how to decimate your puny lead that made you feel fleeting instances of confidence.

First up, the Ottawa Senators, whose yearly appearance in Calgary serves to remind me of the existence of the Ottawa Senators. They were sent home crying, as they are wont to do, but I can’t really give you anymore analysis on that one, as I was at the game, and Saddledome Heroin Beers (truly a thing of legend in this fair city) have rendered my memory of the events of that night fuzzy at best. I do remember Lance Bouma scoring, which is happening a bit more often this year, and it’s weird, and I don’t like it. But he should probably keep on doing it.

But when the Best in the West showdown vs. the Mumps free Ducks ended up going Calgary’s way, I was convinced that Calgary may never lose again, and also that I never spent enough time giving the beloved Earl Sleek hot shit for the come from behind win. Thanks Dennis Wideman. Your newfound scoring progress has made me realize that Earl is a bad person who should feel bad.

(man, it’s really hard to make fun of Earl. You should see his smile. Powers a whole city)

Of course, those goddamn Blackhawks had to come to town and ruin the whole party, as they stole a 4-3 victory on a night that truly made no sense:

None of that was a typo, although I guess I could have done the right thing and slapped a question mark on the end of that bad boy, but can you blame me? Gorilla Salad scored a goal. It’s like whatever deity you choose to worship entered the Konami code before the game on this night and did some truly magical shit. It was chaos man. Chaos:

(what the Flames have signed us all up for by letting Daniel Carcillo score an NHL goal)

But this game took me back, because I was forgetting what it was like to lose a game. That’s a no no as a Flames fan, as laughing off a loss for a time was really the only prerequisite to join this demented army of masochists. Now the team is winning games and we’re all getting soft. Ask any Flames fan when the last time they drank to forget was. They won’t remember! (for different reasons)

So I don’t know. Either the Flames bubble is about to burst and the team is going to sink into more realistic expectations, or the improbable will continue to fall prey to the inconceivable and the Flames will be doing this come June:

LoobStanleyCup2

(My man Loob)

Anyway, what I DO know, and what I’ll be leaving you with tonight, is that at all times, ALL TIMES, Sean Monahan has perfect hair.

/file not found

 

SAN JOSE SHARKS
5th PLACE, 10-9-3, 23 POINTS
@Stace_ofBase from Battle of California

I’m putting in as much effort into this as my favorite team has put into hockey as of late. The Sharks suck my hypothetical balls, 1-2-1 since we last met. The most horribly boring yet pathetic road trip has come to an end. The Sharks aim to continue sadness in San Jose (with sexy results).

San Jose Sharks @ Columbus Blue Jackets, 1-2

To be honest, this game is kind of a blur to me, it feels like forever ago. The Sharks lost so obviously it went well. The Jackets swept the Sharks in this season’s series. Fuck this team.

San Jose Sharks @ Carolina Hurricanes, 2-0

As you may recall, Stalock had knee surgery and he is currently on the IR. Since Niemi has been unreliable as of late, the Sharks decided to play their new backup, Troy Grosenick, or Tony Grossdick, as he likes to be called. This experiment ended up making Todd McLellan look like a genius, Niemi look expendable, and Stalock resemble all those AHL stat tweets the angry nerds have been hate typing since 4 hours before game 6 vs. the Kings. The kid was great (against Carolina) and saved 46 shots (why did the Sharks allow Carolina 46 shots?). It was pretty awesome to see. The Sharks played like garbage. Fuck this team.

San Jose Sharks @ Buffalo Sabres, 1-4

The Sabres swept this season’s series against the Sharks. The Sharks go another year without being able to beat the Sabres. It’s been four years. Fuck this team.

San Jose Sharks @ Florida Panthers, 2-3 (SO)

The Panthers swept this season’s series against the Sharks. The Sharks are trying to kill me. It won’t happen because I am emotionally detached to all of them except for Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, with the occasional Tommy Wingels. Fuck this team.

Upcoming:

Thankfully, the Sharks don’t have a crap-to-crap this weekend, but they do play the Coyotes, which is next level crap. The Coyotes suck. Please don’t lose to the Coyotes. Please don’t lose to the Coyotes. Please don’t lose to the Coyotes. Please don’t lose to the Coyotes. Please don’t lose to the Coyotes. Please don’t lose to the Coyotes. Please don’t lose to the Coyotes. Please don’t lose to the Coyotes. Please don’t lose to the Coyotes. Please don’t lose to the Coyotes. Please don’t lose to the Coyotes. Please don’t lose to the Coyotes. Please don’t lose to the Coyotes. Please don’t lose to the Coyotes. Please don’t lose to the Coyotes. Please don’t lose to the Coyotes. Please don’t lose to the Coyotes. Fuck this team.

 

ARIZONA COYOTES
6th PLACE, 8-10-2, 18 POINTS
@CarlPutnam from Five For Howling

Entering this week Arizona was occupying the Pacific basement and looking like Hannibal Lector’s next meal. Then something strange happened. The Coyotes untied their straps via strong team defense, goaltending, and *gasp* actual goal scoring to escape to the freedom of sixth place.

Things started off with a Marty Party in Vancouver!

At least no one in Vancouver was arrested in the aftermath of Marty’s natural.

After shutting out the Canucks 5-0, the Yotes headed back to Alberta for a Sunday night tussle with the Oilers. The Coyotes had taken points in the last 14 games against Edmonton. After Sunday, the streak went to 15 courtesy of a 2-1 win backstopped by former Oiler netminder Devan Dubnyk.

Arizona then made brief stop home to play a game against the Caps. The Yotes actually played well for the vast majority of the game, but their offensive troubles returned. This may have been partly to injuries sustained in their prior game in Edmonton. Brandon Gormley, Martin Hanzal, and Rob Klinkhammer all sustained injuries against the Oilers and missed the game against Washington. The Caps went out to 1-0 lead, but Arizona struck back via this gorgeous Sam Gagner pass to Oliver Ekman-Awesome. A bad defensive lapse in OT cost the Coyotes the game, but they grabbed another point in the standings.

The Coyotes headed back to the road for another 3 game roadie. First up, Big D. Klinkhammer returned against the Stars, but Gormley and Hanzal remained sidelined. The Desert Dogs had a 1-0 lead going into the third period in Dallas last night. And then this happened…

Mike Smith let in a softie to finish things off 3-1. Not a storybook ending to the week, but given where they started, 5 points out of a possible 8 wasn’t too shabby for Dave Tippett’s squad. The Coyotes next head to California to take on San Jose and Anaheim before returning home to face Patrick Roy’s Avalanche next Tuesday.

In completely unrelated news…

Hey, remember when hockey would never, ever catch on out West?


 

EDMONTON OILERS
7th PLACE, 6-11-2, 14 POINTS
@JSBMjeanshorts from Oilers Nation

Well, we’re coming to the end of November, so you all know what that means: THE OILERS ARE MORE OR LESS ELIMINATED FROM PLAYOFF CONTENTION AND FAN APATHY IS AT AN ALL TIME HIGH!!

The most frustrating part about this team is they always seem to take one step forward, 15 steps back. Last year when they acquired Scrivens and Fasth we were all “YAY COMPETENT GOALTENDING TO MAKE UP FOR THE ATROCIOUS TEAM DEFENSE!” This season? Through the first 19 games both guys have a GAA over 3, and a SV% under .900! And, look, I still love Ben Scrivens with all of my cold, black heart but neither he nor Fasth have been anywhere near competent enough. Scrivens is especially frustrating as he’ll look all-world one game, and then let in limp wristers from 25 feet away the next game.

And we can’t even blame shoddy team defense this season! As of right now the Oilers Corsi is 50.4, which sits them at a league average 16th. Obviously there’s plenty of room to improve there but puck possession has, against all odds, been one of the least worrisome parts of this team so far.

THE POWERPLAY ON THE OTHER HAND….

Two goals. TWO POWERPLAY GOALS! Atrocious. Not even Willy Wonka could sugar coat the monstrosity that is the Oilers powerplay. Nothing is working. Either they’re making 2000 passes before giving up a shorthanded breakaway, or they’re firing it right at the goalies chest with no Oiler player within 30 feet of the front of the net.

The penalty kill is only slightly better, but every once in a while they go ahead and do something amazing like this;

We’re barley a quarter of the way through the season and a lot of fans have already given up on the team, the torches are out for everyone from management to coaches and down to the guy who sold me way too many beers at the Ottawa game (I woke up the next day thinking we had lost 3-0) and we’re already penciling in Connor McDavid into next seasons line up.

Or as we say in Edmonton: Status Quo.

 

TRH WILD CARD WATCH™

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 10.06.24 AM

FYI, that’s a LA Sports Talk legend saying the Canucks are on par with the Panthers.

Thanks to all the amazing Pacific Division Bloggers. Check back next Friday for another edition of 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.