PACIFIC WAR ROOM – 2.22.16

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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 February 22nd, 2016!!

 

LOS ANGELES KINGS
1st PLACE, 34-20-4, 72 POINTS
@TheRoyalHalf from The Royal Half

When we last left the LA Kings, they were on an East Coast road trip that had seen them battle some injurOH GOD NO NOT KOPITAR WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE KOPITAR?!?!?!

Anze Kopitar Is Not Happy - The Royal Half

My feelings exactly.

Well, actually… those are my feelings exactly.

At least the rest of this team is ready to step up offensively in the absence of Kopitar.

Well, if the Kings are going to stay on pace with the Pacific Division, one man is going to have to put this team on his back.

Close.

Nailed it.

 

ANAHEIM DUCKS
2nd PLACE, 31-19-8, 70 POINTS
@EarlSleek

Hooray! Less scrolling! :)

Two weeks ago, the Ducks roared out of the All Star Break, beating their three best divisional opponents – the Sharks, Kings, and Coyotes – all in regulation. This week, it was the bottom half of the division’s turn to feel the stab of the ol’ webbed foot.

Anaheim ended its 7-game, 4-time-zone road trip with a tour through western Canada, and they made each stop count. On Monday, they traveled to Calgary, and even though Kesler had a rare off-night, allowing the Flames’ top line to score some goals, the Ducks were able to manhandle both Hiller and Ortio, and took the game 6-4. Anaheim’s power play was pretty key, going 3 for 3. The next day, Anaheim took their first look at Connor McDavid in what turned out to be another close game. Ducks beat the Oilers 5-3, but the margin ended up being two empty-net goals. Then on Thursday, Anaheim finished its trip in Vancouver, crushing the Canucks 5-2, in what was becoming quite a regular margin of defeat for them.

So, with three more consecutive divisional regulation wins, I did have to continue one cartoon gag:

Webbed Foot Pacific 2

I am an equal-opportunity foot-stabber.

Yesterday the Ducks were finally able to play a home game, once again against the Flames, a franchise that had lost its last 21 regular-season visits to Anaheim dating back a dozen years. Once again, the Ducks won this rather handily, 5-2. In four games against the Flames this season, Anaheim’s power play has gone 7 for 12.

With the win, the Ducks improved their post-Christmas record to 19-4-2 and moved once again within 2 points of the division-leading Kings. Over those 25 games, the Ducks have outscored their opponents by 29 goals (83-54), outshot them by 151 shots, and 17 of the 19 wins have come in regulation. And, since the calendar has turned to 2016, Anaheim has scored 4+ goals in 12 of 22 games played. Yeah, I used this last week, but it’s even truer now:


 

SAN JOSE SHARKS
3rd PLACE, 31-21-5, 67 POINTS
@sharkdressedmen

This is weird. I’ve never been down this far on the page before. But, the Ducks have been surging, which is disgusting. We’re gaining on the Kings and putting distance on 4th place in the division so it’s not all bad. Plus, we still have games in hand on the teams from Smog City, so it’s really a fake third place.

But falling out of second place has made me reevaluate my life. Maybe things haven’t been as doom and gloom as I’ve made them out to be so far. Yeah, the beginning of the season started rough, but since the New Year, the Sharks are 13-5-3. That’s a 70% point attainment rate (PAR) [pronounced: par]. In this time, only two of the losses have been back to back, and the Sharks did enjoy a 5 game winning streak. In this time, 3 big things have become apparent:

1. The Sharks Power Play has been spectacular so far. A recent dip has seen them drop to 5th in the league, but for much of this season, they’ve been the #2 PP (Power Play) [pronounced powr plae]. The Sharks have taken advantage of this surge in offensive production and sit 4th in GPG (goals per game) [pronounced: goels pur gaym] with 2.89. 41 of their 165 goals have come with a man advantage, good for 25% of their offensive total. To continue to succeed, the Sharks need this kind of production on special teams. Martin Jones can bail them out on the back end with his 2.33 GAA (goals against average) [pronounced: goels agenst avurej]. But this leads me to the second point:

2. Alex Stalock is a waste of space. It’s no secret that Peter DeBoer won’t play you if you don’t earn it, just ask Mike Brown (More on that in a bit). Stalock has taken his benching pretty hard, as evidenced by his most recent Tumblr posts:

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sometimes the ppl closest 2 u hurt u the most

 

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just 1 of thz days…

 

StalocksTumblr

#foreverbenched

Stalock’s last 2 starts have resulted in 3 and 5 goals against on 17 and 22 total shots, with save percentages (SV%) [pronounced: saav pursentuhjez] of 0.824 and 0.773. 8 goals on 39 shots. That’s bad. Which is why Martin Jones now starts in back-to-backs. Unfortunately, we can’t charge the losses Jones gets on the second straight game to Stalock, but Stalock deserves them.

It’s clear that Stalock is not a solution as a back up and the Sharks have two decent goaltenders in Troy Grosenick and Aaron Dell, of which Dell has put up the better numbers, despite less wins, with the Barracuda. We can’t expect Jones to play every single back-to-back, but we also can’t throw away games with Stalock as a starter. Someone needs to make a move, because sitting with dead weight is a major drag.

3. Speaking of dead weight: Mike Brown.

MikeBrownSucks

He doesn’t get playing time for 9 games as a healthy scratch, takes 4 minutes of penalties on 9:07 TOI (Time On Ice) [pronounced: tym on i-ss]. Such a productive member of this team. His 4 games before that? 6:11, 3:18, 6:04, 5:00 TOI. He does nothing. He averages 1.5 PIM (Penalties In Minutes) [pronounced: peniltees en minuhts] on 7:12 average TOI. 1.5 PIM. Almost a full penalty per game for 11 shifts of work. Not worth it at all. Which is why PDB has been so hesitant to use him. But instead of rolling 11 forwards around, how about we get a productive member of hockey society to fill the void of the 4th line. Maybe someone who can snipe. In an elite manner. I dream of better days…

Sharks have the Blues, Avalanche, and Sabres this week.

 

ARIZONA COYOTES
4th PLACE, 27-25-6, 60 POINTS
@CataCarryOn

The Arizona Coyotes

The Week in Pictures and GIFS:

I’ll start with a gentle reminder: what you think you know about the Coyotes, you actually do not.

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As a big fan of the Dallas Stars being embarrassed (because really, who pays that much for mediocre goaltending??), this was a great week for me – and, of course, for the Coyotes.

The team started out with a 6-2 trouncing of the very, very poor Montreal Canadiens – whom Arizona has now passed in the standings, seemingly for good – the Coyotes took the Dallas Stars with a 6-3 decision, rounding off the week with a 6-4 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Considering that all three games came at home, it was an exciting week for Coyotes fans. They got an opportunity to watch their team score 12 goals in 2 games for the FIRST TIME SINCE 2005, then actually got to watch the Blues not win by like, 18-1. Which was pretty likely.

Anyways, though, back to the first two games – particularly that one against the Stars.

Look, I get it. Six goals against a true playoff contender – and one who’s having a fairly poor week, at that – isn’t sustainable for the Coyotes, and their shitshow less than ideal showing against the St. Louis Blues did a good job of proving that. The Coyotes would need point-per-game scoring from Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, and Shane Doan – the top contributors this week – to keep being just that moving forward, which is *laughable* to think of for two 20 year olds and a guy who’s nearly older than both of them combined.

The point, though, is that the Coyotes proved that they may have just what it takes to be good moving forward. I’ve been beating that drum for pretty much the whole year, and I’ll keep beating it until people believe me.

Tobias Rieder continues to be one of the best offensive generators on the team, and one of their most efficient penalty killers, to boot. He’s been on a cold streak since having his short-handed goal against the Calgary Flames taken away last week, but boasts 150 SOG (and 270 shots attempted) in just 58 games and both a 50.2 CF% for the season and a 3.5 CF% Rel on the year. Translation? He’s putting pucks on and around the net and driving possession for the team.

Then there’s also some of the team’s other fun players that no one knows, who also had fun weeks: Tyler Gaudet scored his first NHL goal as the younger, cheaper Boyd Gordon, Kevin Connauton scored two goals – and had a three point game – and Connor Murphy continued to, well, be a growing fan favorite for just being there.

Also, this happened:

Niklas Treutle, with less than forty games of North American hockey under his belt, made his first appearance in an NHL game against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. He only got to make four saves before the team put Louis Domingue back in, but he technically posted a shutout. Just saying.

Of course, it also happened on the team’s throwback night, so:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

VANCOUVER CANUCKS
5th PLACE, 23-24-12, 58 POINTS
@JDylanBurke from Canucks Army

COMING SOON!
 

CALGARY FLAMES
6th PLACE, 26-29-3, 55 POINTS
@MikeFAIL from Flames Nation

The Calgary Flames summed up in three tweets:

Heads up: Bollig was as useless as he always is. Great job, Bob.

In a week where I wrote the wrong game-day preview for Battle of California, the Calgary Flames averaged 4.25 goals against while losing three of four games played. In two games alone against Anaheim they gave up 11 goals. How is this team allowed to play in the NHL? Their only victory came defeating a team from Vancouver whose fans leave games when their team is winning. But hey, at least Mikael Backlund is putting up points and I ordered a jersey with his name on it.

Oh yeah and Dennis Wideman’s suspension was upheld! I can’t wait to see this go to an independent arbirtrator to see the chaos that ensues. The minute they brought the concussion defense up this became less about Wideman-Henderson and more about bigger things. I can’t wait for the Flames to get fined for not following concussion protocol (which they didn’t) and fans riot. Beyond that stuff, my fears of Kris Russell being extended have resulted in nightmares for the last few days.

This is the darkest timeline: a team so bad, with so many awful players that envelope the talent they have. Save us Mikael Backlund, save us from ourselves. Karri Ramo is dead, Jonas Hiller can’t stop anything, and Joni Ortio is just Antero Niittymäki version 2.0.
 

EDMONTON OILERS
7th PLACE, 22-32-6, 50 POINTS
@JSBMjeanshorts from Oilers Nation

Knock Knock.

Who’s there?

The Oilers.

The Oilers who?

The Oilers who have lost four games in a row are now tied for 30th place and are one step closer to collecting another first overall pick like some kind of NHL Entry Draft hoarders.

What say you Todd McLellan?

ToddFaceRub

Me too bro, me too….

(Connor McDavid had three points this week and has jumped up to 9th overall in rookie scoring, two points behind Sam Bennett who has played 33 more games #SuckItCalgary. This has been your weekly Connor McDavid update.)

TRH WILD CARD WATCH™

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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.