PACIFIC WAR ROOM – 1.25.16

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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 January 25th, 2016!!

 

LOS ANGELES KINGS
1st PLACE, 30-15-3, 63 POINTS
@TheRoyalHalf from The Royal Half

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, man, Sharks fans are THE worst!
Oh, right… Kevin Kurz is a hockey insider!
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

Well, who cares. With the way the LA Kings have been playing the last few months, people here have been partying like it’s 2014!

 

SAN JOSE SHARKS
2nd PLACE, 25-18-4, 54 POINTS
@sharkdressedmen

Is that…are we in…YES!!!

WE’RE BACK!

PWR is back, bitches. Unfortunately, I’m sick this week, so this recap is going to be a little short. Don’t worry y’all, next week will be War and Peace length.

Here’s a quick season recap for those of you who ignored us because, well, we weren’t doing much until very recently:

If you’ve missed the first half of the Sharks’ season, don’t worry. You didn’t miss much. Gone are your father’s Sharks. The current iteration of this team likes to play bad hockey and not win. A lot. To summarize the season thus far:

1. We finally have a captain, Joe Pavelski. Really, he should have been given it last year, but w/e, last year was last year. We’re still not bitter. No one is mad still and thinks the franchise is fucking its own face. No one thinks that.

2. Raffi Torres got another suspension and has yet to play a game this season (Surprise).

3. This team likes to be streaky. This includes several 5+ game losing streaks along with an 8 game winning streak. But mostly losing streaks.

4. They don’t like to win at home. Probably because our new goal song this year is utter shite:

Inside the Tank, it sounds like this:

Yes, we know it sucks. Yes, steps are being taken to fix it.

5. There is none scoring depth outside of the top two lines.

6. Martin Jones was a fantastic pick up for this team. Too bad we’re wasting his great play by not scoring goals.

7. I didn’t win the PowerBall.

88. Brent Burns is filthy.

So it’s been a tough first year for new head coach and Canadian Louis C.K. impersonator Peter DeBoer. He’s done some ok things with lines and playing style, like getting rid of Joe Thornton’s infuriating drop passes during offensive rushes. He’s even tackled the mindset of the team by doing little things like moving home game morning skates to the practice facility, rather than SAP Center to change how the boys view playing at home. However, injuries to big producers like Logan Couture and severe regressions and mid-season slumps for early producers like Tomas Hertl, Joel Ward, and Patrick Marleau haven’t helped the team much.

So that was the Jonathan Quick & Dirty of the Sharks’ season; here’s what they’ve been up to more recently:

Though the current standings paint a much better picture of the team compared to what was described, note that the ascension up the Pacific Division standings has only happened recently, due to the idea that maybe we should start playing real hockey. The Sharks are surging after a lackluster first 2/5ths of the season. Rookie Finnish product Joonas Donskoi, Captain Joe Pavelski, and Jumbo Joe “I’ll whip my cock out if I score 4 goals” Thornton have been producing like early 20th century child labor: All the time. As of Sunday night, the Sharks have 16 out of a possible 18 points for their last 9 games. Nearly every single player on the team is off the schniede. They’ve figured out how to not blow leads and instead are blowing loads all over other teams’ faces. With that stunning visual in mind, let’s recap what faces got a special sauce drenching this week:

4-3 (SO) Loss at home against OTTAWA

Ok, so maybe not every single team they face gets a load dropped on them, but this game was edging close to that kind of finish. If it weren’t for the latest edition of “Stalocking” the Sharks could have won this game. See Exhibit A.

He does this at least once a game. Hey Alex, I wonder why you’re still a back up. Add in a few bad choices in the shootout, and you have the Sharks ending their 5 game winning streak. They still get a point though, and continue to climb the Pacific Division standings. Unfortunately, Alex Stalock is still with the team.

3-1 Win at ARIZONA

I don’t remember this game very well. I was playing the Randy Hahn #DesertDogs drinking game. We scored two goals in the first ten minutes and I spent the remainder of the game picking myself up off the floor. The Sharks improved to 16-6-2 on the road and are working with the NHL to move the remainder of their home games to road locations so maybe they can continue to win.

4-3 Win at home against MINNESOTA

One of the most exciting games this year, the Wild and Sharks went back and forth all game long. Luckily, Captain Joe Pavelski is clutch.

After this game, Joe Thornton is on an 8 game point streak, as are the Sharks. Illuminati confirmed. Can’t talk much more about the game, since we have another the next night against the Kings.

3-2(OT) Loss at home against L** A******

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I hate the Kings.

To this point in the season, the road team in this series has won each game. I hate the Kings. So, naturally, following some of their best hockey of the season, the Sharks face the Kings in San Jose to end that streak. I hate the Kings. Of course, the Sharks decided they wanted to win the game, so we started Martin Jones on the second night of a back to back to avoid Stalocking the game away. I hate the Kings. I use this graphic a lot to illustrate my points, but it bears repeating why we hate Alex Stalock:

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I hate the Kings. As you can see, he has trouble stopping the puck, on account of all of the possible holes for skaters to shoot the puck through. I hate the Kings. So, Peter DeBoer has no choice but to give Jonesy a heavier workload this week to close in on the Kings and 1st place in the Pacific Division. I hate the Kings.

If you’re a Kings fan, you know how this game went. I hate the Kings. If you’re not a Kings fan:

Pavelski scored a beauty:

Jones committed grand larceny twice to end the 2nd.

Donskoi has slick moves (and a 5 game point streak) and Couture bombs it.

Lecavalier scored with seconds left, and Gaborik finished it in OT.

I hate the Kings.

All in all, it was close, not dirty, and good hockey all game.. The OT period was quite possibly the most exciting one I’ve seen all season long.

The loss sees San Jose finish the week at 54 points and second place in the Pacific, with a game in hand on LA.

Looking ahead, the Sharks face the Avalanche on Tuesday before Captain Joe Pavelski and Modern Day Caveman Brent Burns head to Nashville to play in a ridiculous 3v3 tourney with the NHL’s best. But hey, at least they let John Scott play. Praise be unto HIM:

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*Base photo credit to /u/JD397 on reddit.com/r/hockey. I added in other stuff.*

ARIZONA COYOTES
3rd PLACE, 23-19-5, 51 POINTS
@CataCarryOn

The Good, the Bad, and the *Very* Ugly

First off, I’d like to give a nod to last season’s War Room Coyotes correspondent, Brendan Porter. He once sat through a Coyotes game with me during their peak suckage last year. He’s a good man, and I’ll do his name proud.

Anyways.

This year, the Arizona Coyotes have been – well, better than everyone expected, including me. I put them as a bubble lottery team, figuring that they’d be better than they were last year but that they’d still kind of suck.

Instead, they’ve actually looked like a good team. There are some underlying numbers that suggest the team will get worse over time, but some other numbers – namely, the number of players under the age of 25 on the roster – that suggest they’re actually poised to get better as they age.

Anyways, last week was probably the worst we’ve seen of them all year.

The Good: Arizona Coyotes (W) 3-2 (L) Los Angeles Kings

All hail Jordan Martinook!

In a season of weirdness for the Coyotes, maybe the weirdest thing of all has been head coach Dave Tippett’s undying affection for everything and anything that middle six shutdown forward Jordan Martinook can do – but it paid off on Saturday night, when he fired home the game-winning goal for the Coyotes against the Pacific Division-leading Kings for a much-needed win.

The team finished off a lackluster homestand with an important victory, and now they’ll go on the road high off their first three-goal game since the week prior. That’s the good news.

The Bad: Good possession, bad final scores

Cory Schneider is an unbelievable goalie, and that lessened the sting of a 2-0 shutout against the New Jersey Devils on Friday just a little bit more – but losing 2-0 in a game where the team made 95 shot attempts for still stings quite a bit.

The Coyotes lost games this week not due to a lack of offense, but due to what seemed to be a lack of high-danger offense and some pretty crummy luck. A shutout loss to the Devils and a bad luck loss to the Sabres (which included a goal scored off the draw on a 5 on 3, in which defenseman Michael Stone took maybe the scariest faceoff of his life) made for a week that the Coyotes just weren’t going to walk away from very happy.

Of course, that brings us to the final game of the week, against the San Jose Sharks…

The *Very* Ugly: that first period against the Sharks

Brad Richardson didn’t hold any punches when he said that the Coyotes were ‘terrible’ in the first period against the San Jose Sharks this week, and that’s about accurate. They looked about as competent as Connor Murphy trying to get onto the ice with a stick in hand:

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Anyways, every team has their off nights – and it was good to see the Coyotes consider this an off ‘night’ and not an off ‘season’, which last year definitely was. Still, it showed a lot of the flaws in their current system, which will need to be heavily addressed if they actually have a shot at seeing the post-season.

 

VANCOUVER CANUCKS
4th PLACE, 20-18-11, 51 POINTS
@JDylanBurke from Canucks Army

Well, the Canucks are every bit the loveable trainwreck they were when we last corresponded. And by we, I mean Petbugs and well… you; by loveable, I mean pitied. Much like Jay Feaster in years past, Jim Benning seems all too happy to roll his rock up the hill to little or no avail, in an effort to return this team back to semblance of contention.

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In spite of Vancouver’s best efforts to handicap their crease for the next decade and beyond, it’s been their goaltending which keeps the season a foot. Vancouver surrendered 40 shots or more in four straight games and somehow managed to win half of them. Cam Ward is a beautiful thing, when he’s not on your favourite team.

Brandon Prust threw himself a good ol’ fashioned hissy fit and managed to supplant Jake Virtanen for the Canucks game against the Rangers, which is equal parts sad and baffling. By my estimation, Prust has played anywhere near 30-games against his former team since willingly leaving them in free agency over three years ago. Why he was so keen on playing the Rangers, I will never know.

Maybe it’s even sadder that the Canucks caved to this demand?

Eh, who cares anymore?

In spite of their incompetence at every level and mounting injuries, the Canucks return from a six-game road trip on the Eastern coast with a 3-2-1 record. All things considered, that’s none too shabby.

Brandon Sutter returns to the Canucks lineup tomorrow too and if that’s not exciting, well I just don’t even know what is.

 

ANAHEIM DUCKS
5th PLACE, 21-18-7, 49 POINTS
@EarlSleek

Episode 7: The Pacific Awakens (well, most of them)

Oilers Leak Pacific

Hey, everybody! Long time no write! And as you can see above, long time no draw! (That poor oil can has wet himself, if you can’t tell.)

Anyways, I’ve re-upped out of blogger retirement for this Pacific War Room gig in order to save the Anaheim Ducks’ season. Throughout Anaheim’s franchise history, pretty much all the best Ducks’ regular seasons have occurred during the time when I blogged about them, either here or at Battle of California. And while I don’t want to take all the credit (players do their part, too), there’s a strong correlation between the Ducks winning hockey games and me drawing (or more frequently, recycling) stupid cartoons about that on the internet.

So, here’s an early “you’re welcome, Ducks fans.” :)

To illustrate this, the Ducks pulled together a perfect week, winning all the games that Mother Nature permitted. On Wednesday, they entered the third period tied 1-1 with the Minnesota Wild before Rakell and Silfverberg potted third period goals to seal it. Later, on Saturday, they entered the third period tied 2-2 with the Red Wings before Perry and Kesler potted third period goals to seal it.

How very Boudreau of them.

And in between, a hockey trade! On Thursday, they traded away young winger Jiri Sekac to the Blackhawks for a half-priced Ryan Garbutt, a trade I don’t really mind. Garbutt was a guy the Ducks never once liked playing against, and Sekac wasn’t an everyday player with an RFA contract negotiation coming in a summer with a lot of them (Andersen, Lindholm, Vatanen, and Rakell). And besides…

Also in between, a game yet to be played! The Ducks got duped by Winter Storm Jonas on Friday, when their game against the Capitals got moved from 4 pm to 2 pm to TBD some time when God permits. They barely were able to make it out alive.

It’ll be an interesting next couple of weeks for the Ducks. Both Fowler and Despres figure to rejoin the defense pretty soon, and while few trade rumors surrounding Anaheim ever really occur, Bob Murray seems to be well-positioned to do something, and can’t wait to see what that might be.

Go Ducks.

 

CALGARY FLAMES
6th PLACE, 21-22-3, 45 POINTS
@MikeFAIL from Flames Nation

*kneels at the grave of BookOfLoob*

I promise I’ll honor you the best way I can, Floob. I promise.

*Floob looks down from Hockey Blogger Heaven utterly disgusted I am replacing him in the Pacific War Room*

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about something more dead and awful than Floob’s blogging career: the Trashcific Division’s burning trash heap. This week the Calgary Flams were bested by a gaggle of who-were-they’s and where-are-they-now’s in New Jersey. Everyone collectively filled their diapers, hurled them at their television sets, and launched into their usual tirades on the ol’ Twitter dot com:

Astute Flams Fan #1THE FLAMS SHOULD JUST TANK AND GET JESSE PULHUJUARHAJARI OR PATRICK LALAIME

Astute Flams Fan #2 – OBVIOUSLY THE PROBLEM IS [insert one of the grossly over-discussed themes in hockey analysis and argue it to no end because you’re likely a guy who calls into radio stations after losses]

Guy who plays way too much NHL ’97 stillNO, NO, NO! THEY TOTALLY JUST NEED TO TRADE SOMEONE FOR A RETURN THAT TOTALLY COULD NEVER HAPPEN EVER. HOLD ON WHILE I SPIN THE WHEEL OF UNREALITY

Wheel of unreality turn, turn, turn
Tell us the player we should burn

Your endowment effect is just absurd, friends. Stop the nonsense.

Two days later, the Flams rolled into Ohio looking to play exactly into every garbage narrative from two years ago when John Tortorella tried to ask Bob Hartley for his mom’s lasagna recipe between intermissions. Because Calgary media people love played out narratives. Because Calgary media types are have nothing of value to offer in meaningful discussion. Seriously. As usual god-incarnate 19 Year Old Sam Bennett scored two more goals proving again how correct I was about his lulls in point production:

The Columbus game was without any real roar of a fight between coaches, but another example Sam Bennett finding his stride. Which is great, because it is; given that secondary scoring has been a problem this season it couldn’t come at a better time. It won’t last forever but damnit I’ll enjoy every minute of it.

The evolution of the second-line (which should be the top-line) of Bennett, Backlund, and Frolik is everybody’s wet dream. All three can drive play, are willing to carry the puck out of their zone, willing to carry the puck into the offensive zone, and try to create offense.

This line is the only thing besides TJ Brodie that brings me joy on this team. Maybe at some point Mikael Backlund’s snake-bitten play will see him score some goals.

Following their utter pillaging of the disappointing city of Columbus, they jetted off to Carolina to eat BBQ. Unfortunately they had to play the Hurricanes and they lost. Why? Well they let the Hurricanes score five goals, many of which would make you turn your TV off and throw it out a window. But it’s okay, I pegged this team as playoff bound – hell they might be still. All that aside, it wouldn’t be a Pacific War Room unless we highlighted tweets of people losing their collective minds to things.

I call this series “Soul Crushing Cynicism and Despair Coated Realism”

This tweet is incoherent and makes little sense. I’m presuming he thinks that Flames fans are becoming the self-hating lot from up north who feast on the souls and blood of the youth in hopes of recapturing the finest moments of a dull franchise’s existence. Which we’re not; he’s just not good at accepting truth, only settling for the falsehoods that are in front of him.

Oh well, at least we’re not as bad as Anaheim or Edmonton.

EDMONTON OILERS
7th PLACE, 19-26-5, 43 POINTS
@JSBMjeanshorts from Oilers Nation

Ah yes, that old familiar feeling. Back at the bottom of this page where I rightfully belong. It’s good to be back gang!

It hasn’t been a GREAT start to 2016 for the Oilers, but this being the Oilers it also could have been a lot worse! As usual we’ll take what we can get. 4-5-2 in January so far has dropped the Oilers back to the bottom of the Pacific division, but being that the Pacific division is a literal fire made out of garbage they’re also only 8 points out of a playoff spot, which for the Oilers is basically like making the cup finals.

Cam Talbot has been the main reason the Oilers have won any games so far, coming up with huge saves like this on a regular basis.

This being the Oilers though, the second they finally got above average NHL goaltending the ENTIRE TEAM WENT DOWN DUE TO INJURY! Don’t ever tell me the Oilers can’t lead the league in anything; look at all these man games lost to injury! Suck it Buffalo! Not matter what it is you will ALWAYS come in second to the Oilers!

With both their number 1 defenceman and number 1 rookie sensation on the shelf, 2016’s Oilers Trade Bait Of The Year Ryan Nugent-Thompsons blocked a shot with his tiny little hands and will now miss what many figure will be the entire rest of the 2016 season. HOORAY! What’s next, their surprised break-out player of the year ALSO going down just days later? FFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-

Speaking of injuries, Nail Yakupov came back last week after missing almost 2 months and picked up right where he left off, managing to do something we all thought may have been impossible; scoring a goal WITHOUT Connor McDavid!

Zack Kassian made his Oilers debut against the Sharks a few weeks back, and made an immediate impact.

He also made a huge splash on social media. So far for Oiler fans Kassian has been the gift that keeps on giving!

Matt Hendricks blocked a shot AND LET’S NEVER SPEAK OF THIS AGAIN!

And finally Oilersnation started a movement that’s taking the world by storm.

All in all it’s been an okay season so far, by Oiler standards. Only 7 more sleeps until Connor McDavid comes back, and we’re only a few weeks away from watching meaningful Oiler games in FEBRUARY! What a time to be alive!

TRH WILD CARD WATCH™

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We miss you two so much here at the Pacific War Room!

 

Thanks to all the amazing Pacific Division Bloggers. Check back next week 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.