PACIFIC WAR ROOM – 1.17.14

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 order of current Pacific Division standings… we present Pacific War Room for the week of January 17th, 2014.

 

ANAHEIM DUCKS
1st PLACE, 36-8-5, 77 POINTS
@EarlSleek

 

Before this week, the Ducks had a 7-0 record against the Coyotes, Red Wings, and Canucks, outscoring them 26-14. Now it’s up to 10-0, outscoring them 41-18.

Yup, three more wins for Anaheim – losses are so 2013.

And sure, I could talk about Jonas Hiller’s 14 consecutive win streak (tied for 2nd best win streak in NHL history), or Anaheim’s 20-0-2 home record to start the season (4th time that’s been done in 40 seasons), or the Ducks’ ridiculous 18-wins-in-19-games run (2nd time that’s ever been done), but instead of all that, let’s focus on one of our recently-struggling divisional-buddy teams below, the highlight game of Anaheim’s week (and possibly entire existence): those poor Vancouver Canucks.

In case you missed it, Anaheim trounced the now-goony Canucks NINE to one Wednesday night. The Ducks ended up scoring SIX power play goals against the best penalty-killing team in the league, which is:

    • the same number of power play goals that Anaheim scored over its first 17 games this season, and
    • the same number of power play goals that Vancouver allowed over its previous 24 games.

FIFTEEN Ducks ended up on the good end of the scoresheet that night, too. (A quick PANCAKE WATCH! Dustin Penner did score a goal and an assist this week, but he hilariously was one of only three pointless Ducks skaters at the end of the Vancouver rout.)

The Canucks are now 1-7-3 against California teams, outscored 40-16. In 8 of those 11 games they’ve been held to 1 goal or less. In those games, Canucks goalies have combined for a 3.34 GAA and an .895 save percentage; California goalies have combined for a 1.44 GAA and a .951 save percentage.

As a result, Darren Archibald is the only Canuck skater who is a plus player against California teams this season (+1). Twelve Canucks skaters are -5 or worse, and four are -10 or worse. In fact, here’s the full list of Canucks scorers in their 11 games thus far against the Sharks, Kings, and Ducks. Note that nobody has more than two goals.

Conversely, in 3 games played against the Canucks, both Corey Perry and Nick Bonino have scored four goals each. :)

Which is all just a long lead-in to this week’s based-on-a-movie-I-never-saw cartoon. Eh, whatever. I figure it’s good to get in some batting practice before the outdoor game next weekend. (Next weekend?! Oh man – right around the corner!)

Blackfish2

 

SAN JOSE SHARKS
2nd PLACE, 30-12-6, 66 POINTS
@FearTheFin from Fear the Fin

Since becoming the only team to hand the Ducks a regulation loss since Thanksgiving on December 29th, the Sharks had perfectly alternated wins and losses, stuck in a spiral of mediocrity befitting a team with several key injuries up front. That was until last night, when they played the Florida Panthers two days after beating the Washington Capitals in a shootout. Nothing like a game in South Florida to jumpstart your first winning streak of the calendar year.

 

Joe Pavelski, Matt Nieto and Joe Thornton beat Tim Thomas like a tax evasion charge and the Sharks notched consecutive victories for the first time in three weeks. With Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Marty Havlat and Raffi Torres still confined to the infirmary, they’ve been a relatively goal-starved team of late but Antti Niemi rediscovering his form and Alex Stalock pitching a shutout against the Panthers has helped keep the Sharks competitive despite that. The real test for the Sharks, though, comes on Monday when they host the fearsome Calg…hahaha, I couldn’t finish that sentence.

 

LOS ANGELES KINGS
3rd PLACE, 29-14-5, 63 POINTS
@TheRoyalHalf from The Royal Half

I guess we should have all seen the writing on the wall when this was the best GIF to come out of the LA Kings disappointing 3-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings last Saturday night.

In what will be known as the last game of the Ben Scrivens Era, the LA Kings notched a moral (and an actual victory) over the Vancouver Canucks.

The LA Kings beat the Vancouver Canucks? You don’t say!

Well at least those Vancouver Canucks fans worked hard to not change anyone’s perception of truly how awful they are.

Haven’t the Native Canadians already suffered enough tragedy in their lifetime?

The only thing better than a victory over the sorry Vancouver Canucks franchise is a victory over the sorrier St. Louis Blues franchise. (FYI, saying the Blues are a sorrier franchise than the Canucks is saying A LOT)

Trevor Lewis Goal vs Blues - The Royal Half

Boy, I wonder when the LA Kings will release a poster to celebrate this goal!

Never change, St. Louis Blues. Never, ever change.

St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup Poster!

 

VANCOUVER CANUCKS
4th PLACE, 24-16-9, 50 POINTS
@PetBugs13 from Canucks Army

 

Ok, you just read a recap of the Canucks-Kings games up there ^^^^^^, so no point me going over it again. Speaking of no points, that’s pretty much what the Canucks’ “moral victory” was worth on Monday night:

I haven’t checked the rule book, but I sure hope moral victories are the third tie breaker after regulation and overtime wins…

The it was on to Anaheim. If you want a recap of that, go back up to the top of the page. I’m pretty sure it was well covered up there.

If you want the Vancouver take, well, why not let the official Canucks twitter account tell the story:

 

[It was only 6-1 at the time. But given the tendency to give up late leads, probably good to build a cushion as part of this epic comeback, I guess. Either way, the Canucks' twitter account was not only hilarious but rather prescient on this night. Let's continue with the hilarity as it ensued.]

 

 

 

 

If you thought that one wasn’t pretty…

…go ahead and read the recap of the next game in the next section down. It is still down, right? I mean, the Coyotes haven’t actually caught the Canucks yet, RIGHT??!

Phew.

Anyway. Those are the recaps. If you want a preview of the Canucks next game, on Saturday vs. the Flames, look a little bit farther down (this one I’m sure of). I’m sure the Loobster has you covered.

PHOENIX COYOTES
5th PLACE, 22-16-9, 53 POINTS
@BrendanPorter from Five For Howling

 

In the past ten games, the Phoenix Coyotes are a paltry 3-6-1. This stretch of mediocrity is prompting many Coyotes fans to engage in well thought out discussions regarding the long-term outlook of the team in a calm, collected way. Like this:

I may have paraphrased a bit.

Yes, the Coyotes’ continued inability to keep pucks out of their own net has propelled them downward in the standings and out of the two Wild Card spots, which would be bigger news if the Coyotes had higher expectations for this season. Or if Phoenix played in a market where the media pays attention to hockey, like Los Angeles.

Now, this may come as a surprise to many, but hockey fans are an emotional bunch. And when things are going poorly, the tendency is to find someone to blame. So let’s review the culprits in the Phoenix Coyotes’ season struggles, as according to Coyotes fans.

Keith Yandle

So Keith Yandle did not make the Olympic roster for the United States, apparently because David Poile trusts Brian Burke’s opinion on hockey talent more than Dean Lombardi.

(Pictured: the last team Brian Burke served as general manager of)

Phoenix fans rose to Yandle’s defense almost immediately:

(The struggle is real)

Less than one week later…

Even Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian think Phoenix fans have commitment issues.

Mike Smith

Smitty has awkwardly backed his way into all of our hearts thanks to #BUTTGOAL, but somehow Phoenix fans aren’t feeling the love:

Mark Visentin has never played an NHL game and has a .912 SV% in AHL Portland. But apparently he is the one who will save the Coyotes season.

Wait, Mike Smith shut out the Vancouver Canucks?

Sigh…

Statistics

The Coyotes are simply not up to par in the statistical categories that matter most, like…

Shmorsi…

the eyeball test, and…

Um, pass?

At its core, the Coyotes are a team that is just mediocre. Their corsi percentage is barely over 50%, while their fenwick is 49.6%. They rank in the bottom ten in goals against and the bottom ten in penalty kill percentage. Their even-strength offense has been good enough to offset these liabilities, but not good enough to keep pace with some of the better teams in the league.

But every Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever has its antidote (too soon, Shane Doan?). For the Coyotes, that comes in the form of a week of games against the Maple Leafs, Flames, and Oilers. So either Phoenix will post a respectable record and get back on track, or the Coyotes will get blown out by Toronto and save Randy Carlyle’s job.

Yeah, probably the latter. That way all hockey fans can revel in our collective misery.

Oh, and the Coyotes are hosting a concert featuring Bachman & Turner, Loverboy, and Trooper named CanadaFest in March.

(This is a real thing. Seriously).

Sometimes the jokes just write themselves.

CALGARY FLAMES
6th PLACE, 16-26-6, 38 POINTS
@BookOfLoob from Flames Nation

 

Oh my goodness, there are things to talk about this week. Borderline trivial, almost sad things to focus on as positives for most teams, but when you’re the Calgary Flames, you take what you can get.

The big news is that they scored goals! Not a lot of them, but some! 6 goals in 4 games even, which only like…Alex Ovechkin puts up more than that in a week, so suck on that, Pacific Division!

That felt good.

Did the Flames win a lot this week?

Uh…

Well they championed one out of four contests this week. .250 winning %. NOT TOO BAD. The game they did win, I can tell you, was a beaut against the Carolina Hurricanes, who are a team who only sit a middling distance out of a playoff spot in the (some would say SIGNIFICANTLY) weaker Eastern Conference (I’m one of the some who would say that), but you know what? There was a real reversal of fortune, as this time around it was your Calgary Flames PREVENTING the other team from scoring.

My reaction:

wccy76

Yup, backed by some strong play by Karri Ramo, who has been statistically awful but I love him anyway, the Flames took a 2-0 win out of Raleigh, and hey, boy weren’t the Hartford Whalers great?

It was Ramo’s first career shutout, and you better believe it was a load off his mind. Ramo’s been the victim of more scorn from the press this season than Jenny Scrivens, so the performance was his way of telling everyone to get off his back.

Than he let in 4 goals against Nashville two days later.

The Flames lost some games. We all know how that feels, you’ve seen it all year, there’s not much for me to talk about without wanting to die drowning in Matt Hendricks pool of money.

I do want to talk about the play of Mikael Backlund, now firmly entrenched as Calgary’s primo numero uno center. While that does speak to the crippling lack of offense on the team, he has not looked out of place on the top line with Jiri Hudler and whoever isn’t injured at the moment (get well soon, Cammy!). It also serves to validate our opinions of the kid, as we at Flames Nation have talked about for years how good Backlund can be, and I alluded to in this year’s neighborhood watch. (As an aside, LOL at my Sven Baertschi predictions). Once Bob Hartley learned not to hate Backlund, he took off. He’s playing over 20 minutes a night, and had a modest three game goal streak this week until losing to SOMEHOW WINNIPEG ended the run. He’s even worn the A on his jersey in the absence of Mike Cammalleri, and I’ve decided that for the entirety of his term as an assistant captain, I am going to refer to him as B.A. Baracklund, and I REALLY wish I had thought of Photoshopping an applicable picture before writing this.

Whoops.

SEE YOU NEXT WEEK, JERKS.

 

EDMONTON OILERS
7th PLACE, 15-30-5, 35 POINTS
@JSBMrevolution

 

Not sure if I’ve mentioned this to you guys before or not, but the Edmonton Oilers are a very bad hockey team.

How bad are the Oilers?

An OT win against Pittsburgh in the middle of the season was arguably the most exciting moment this franchise has experienced since they made it to game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals ALMOST A DECADE AGO *never stops weeping*.

Some of us MAY have went a little overboard…

 

 

But when your team has been this shitty, this long, all you have to look forward to are the little victories. And to be fair this was easily one of the best games they’ve played all season, so it was a nice change of pace. WAS….

How bad are the Oilers?

The Oilers are so bad that other teams are starting to take so much pity on them they’ve started scoring goals on their own nets!

In true Oiler fashion they gave up a goal 29 seconds later, so at least it’s nice to see them stick to Dallas Eakins’ system.

How bad are the Oilers?

The Oilers are so bad th-

*BEEP BEEP BEEPBEEPBEEP* We interrupt this post for a breaking news story. The Edmonton Oilers have just traded a 3rd round draft pick to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for the world’s smartest goaltender Ben “The Professor” Scrivens. Scientists estimate the average IQ in Edmonton will go up by about 400%.

AN HE CUTE TOO!

How bad are the Oilers?

Welcome home Ben!

Welcome home…

#PrayForScrivens

 

TRH WILD CARD WATCH™

 

Amen, brother.

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.