PACIFIC DIVISION GAMEDAY PRESENTED BY HOME DEPOT™

gameday

Chris Fowler:  Welcome back to the first ever NHL Gameday, live from the Staples Center on the campus of…um…on the campus of Downtown Los Angeles!

(*crowd cheers*)

As you know, this is the home of the…

Kirk Herbstreit:  Excuse me, Chris.  Hold on just a second.  I want to make a point about something.

CF:  Sure Kirk, go ahead.

KH:  Why did we all get relegated to hockey coverage when Coach Corso is the only one who is always swearing on air.  Couldn’t ESPN just fire him and replace him with some other energetic geriatric former coach?  Mack Brown will be available soon.

CF:  We all let Coach’s antics go on too long without putting a stop to it, so we all have to face the punishment.  Isn’t that right, Coach?

Lee Corso:  You betcha!  I haven’t been this excited since Tom Harmon singlehandedly beat the Nazis and Michigan State…in the same day!

(*crowd cheers*)

CF:  For those of you keeping score at home, that happened during Coach’s sophomore year at Florida State!  Anyway, it’s time to move on to a new feature here on NHL Gameday called Pacific Predictions, cooked by Buffalo Wild Wings®, where Kirk, Coach, and Desmond discuss the Pacific Division’s BCS poll.  Which team will be #1, and who do our experts believe will be the top four teams to make it to the Stanley Cup playoffs?

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KH:  I find this embarrassing.  I’m a football commentator, not a hockey guy.  I mean, I love the Blue Jackets, but I honestly wasn’t aware Calgary still had a team until ten minutes ago.

(*crowd cheers*)

CF:  Herbie, please try to make the best of this, will you.

LC:  Kirk, I know what you need.  (*flails arm wildly into Kirk’s chest*)

How ‘bout some hockey trivia?!  You know who won the first ever Stanley Cup?  Paul “Bear” Bryant during his only year at Maryland.  The greatest coach of our time.

(*crowd boos*)

KH:  I don’t know if that’s true, Coach.

LC:  Accckkk!  You kids don’t know nothin’.

CF:  That’s a wonderful segue to discuss the seventh ranked team in the BCS Pacific Division Poll, the Calgary Flames.

(*crowd boos*)

We’ll start with our resident Heisman trophy winner, Desmond Howard, with an in-depth breakdown of what we can expect for the Flames this season.  Dez.

Desmond Howard:  The Flames will be a hot team, but being ranked #7 in the conference means they won’t be able to compete with those other teams.  I say seventh is correct, and seven is more than six, Chris.

(*crowd confusedly cheers*)

CF:  Great analysis.  Thanks, Dez.  Kirk, what do you think?  The Flames, hot or not?

KH:  This team has a lot of work to do.  They scored 2.67 touchd…uh…goals per game last year, but gave up 3.27.  It’s going to be tough to ask the Calgary defense to keep that total under three in a division where four of the other six teams finished in the top half of the league in powerplay percentage.  I agree with Dez, seventh is the correct spot for them.

(*crowd cheers*)

CF:  Thanks, Kirk.  Lee?

LC:  I love, LOVE, the addition of Brian Burke to this team.  Great hockey man, I coached with him back with the Orlando Renegades.  Couldn’t make it work in Toronto…no worries.  Calgary is a different town, clean slate.  The Flames can easily win the Mountain West this year.

CF:  Okay, moving on.  Let’s take a look at their rivals in Alberta, #6 in the poll, the Edmonton Oilers.

(*crowd boos*)

An improving team, but maybe not yet playoff worthy.  Herbie, your take.

KH:  I have to agree.  Their youth is a great asset, but may help them later on down the road.  Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner, Yakupov.  These are all top line guys, but it will take a lot of offense to cover that shaky defense.  They only won fifty percent of their games after scoring the first goal last season, enough for last in the league.  They will improve, but not much.  They are number six in the Pacific Division poll for a reason, and I agree with that.

(*crowd cheers*)

LC:  NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND!

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This team is full of so much first round talent they look like an SEC All-American team!  I’ve seen a team like this before, and they were called the 2012 Alabama Crimson Tide!  Roll Oil!

CF:  Thanks, Coach.  Interesting take.  We’ll at least see if they can improve on that twelfth place finish in the conference last season.  Now let’s move to the southernmost team in the division, the fifth ranked Phoenix Coyotes.

(*crowd boos*)

Desmond is down on our NHL Gameday Field…Ice…thing, insured by Allstate®, for a closer look at what to expect from the Coyotes powerplay this year.

DH:  The Coyotes are (*microphone cuts out as Desmond pantomimes hockey*)…

LC:  Desmond is exactly right, and here’s why.  (*grabs Kirk’s arm, flails back and forth in chair wildly in an effort to look at everyone on the set at once*)

Look, a lot of people knock this team down.  You know who else people doubted?  Bill Snyder.  And now he has a statue of himself.  Shane Doan, don’t give up, don’t ever give up.

(*points at camera*)

You’ll be a force in the Pac-12, but not just yet.  This team is destined for a Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl appearance, and that’s pretty good in my book.

KH:  Yeah, this is a weird team, it’s so hard to predict what they will bring to the table each year.  Western Conference finals two years ago, not even in the playoffs last year.  There’s a lot of turmoil associated with them, but they have to find some way to overcome it.  Easily they are the fifth best team in the division, but that means they are the first ones out of the playoffs.

(*crowd cheers*)

CF:  Fair enough.  No hope for your hockey friends in Arizona, Herbie?

KH:  I don’t think I have any friends who are hockey fans in Arizona, Chris.

(*everyone on the set laughs*)

CF:  Okay, next up is the #4 Anaheim Ducks.

(*crowd boos*)

LC:  Let me tell ya something, Tommy Salami is back.  One more year.

(*holds up one finger, looks directly at the camera*)

He’s just like Chris Weinke,  Florida State boy, he can’t get enough of it.  He took that sixth year redshirt to heart.  IF he stays healthy, this team is a darkhorse for the Rose Bowl.  No way they beat an Oregon or Stanford, though.  NO WAY!

KH:  I think…

LC:  NO WAY, KIRK!  NO WAY!

KH:  (*annoyed chuckle*)  Okay, okay.  Anyway, losing a 30-goal scorer in Bobby Ryan is going to mean someone will need to fill that scoring void for the Ducks to return to prominence in the playoffs.  Dustin Penner won’t give them that.  Young guys like Emerson Etem, Jakob Silfverberg, and Peter Holland are all going to need a big statistical season, and frankly, that’s asking a lot out of those guys.  This is a bubble team, for sure, and the combo of Hiller and Fasth will need to duplicate their efforts of a year ago for this team to be any threat in the postseason.  Number four is an accurate ranking for this team.

CF:  Okay, moving on, let’s look at our last Canadian team on the list, the third ranked Vancouver Canucks.

(*crowd boos*)

LC:  I like…this team.  (*looks at wrong camera for twenty seconds*)

That Roberto Luongo, he knows how to work a room.  He’s no Steve Spurrier, but I tell ya what, if this team gets hot there’s no stopping them.  Vancouver by a touchdown.

KH:  He’s not even ranking them anymore.

LC:  Rankings-schmankings.  I know what I like.

CF:  Kirk, your thoughts on the Canucks.

KH:  Sure.  This is a very skilled team led by the Sedin twins that never were able to win the big one under Alain Vigneault.  John Tortorella is going to bring that fire to a team in desperate need of another Stanley Cup appearance before the window closes.  For such a seemingly potent offense, they were in the bottom half of the league in many statistical categories last season, mostly due to injuires.  But, you have to remember that Torts took a middle of the road Tampa Bay team all the way to a championship in 2004.  There’s just too much uncertainty to put them in the top two right now.  Vancouver is a solid, and scary, number three.

CF:  I agree, and remember the goalie situation is solid no matter who’s in net, and you know that blueline will be tough.

matchup

Now the matchup you came to see.  Kings-Sharks…

(*crowd cheers*)

One of last year’s Western Conference semifinal match ups.  The series goes to seven games and these teams needed every second.  A few controversial calls, a few dramatic wins.  Everything playoff hockey is about.  The Kings won, moving on to the Western Conference final.  But the history goes back farther than that.  The Kings Stanley Cup win two years ago meant that the Sharks are the only Californian team without a Cup.  Let’s take a look at this rivalry in-depth.

(*cue lame video montage narrated by Dan Moriarty*)

CF:  Okay, you guys have seen the hatred these teams harbor for each other.  Who is the top team in the Conference this year?  Dez, we’ll go to you first.

DH:  I think, uh…(*remembers what city he is in*)…Los Angeles has the best atmosphere of any NHL team in the country.  They have a pretty tough offense and an equally tough defense.  That coaching staff has been there before.  That’s why they win the division…

(*crowd cheers, drowning out the rest of Desmond’s inane thoughts*)

CF:  Dez goes with the hometown pick.  Herbie?

KH:  You have to remember the Sharks have made the playoffs every year since 2004, except the lockout year, and if it weren’t for a controversial call in Game 2 last season this team would have been in the conference final game again.  Despite their issues last year, they still gave up fewer goals per game than the Kings, and had a better penalty kill.  In the end defense wins championships.  I think Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are ready to shake the collective monkey off their backs.  Sharks win the division, but it’s close.

(*crowd boos*)

LC:  Good pick, good pick.  Listen, I don’t know about all of that, but what I do know is that Sharks eat people.  Kings are people.  So, the Kings have no chance, NO CHANCE!

(*crowd boos indifferently*)

BUT, lions eat people too, Herbie.  Lions eat people too.  And they’ll eat sharks this year!

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Kings!  Kings win it!  The fucking Kings!!!

(*Corso releases a live lion on the set, hilarity ensues*)

Flubber McGee is TRH's resident Kansas City correspondent, and has survived as a Kings fan long before the dawn of Internet streaming sites. He has seen the Kings win exactly zero non-exhibition games in person. Have you ever achieved enlightenment? Flubber has, because he once witnessed Kevin and Brett Westgarth fight in, and get kicked out of, the same game (they didn't fight each other, unfortunately). In addition to being a part of TRH, Flubber runs a Kansas City hockey blog. It's exactly what you think it is. You can follow Flubber McGee on Twitter @FlubberMcGee.