PACIFIC WAR ROOM – 10.11.13

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 weekly wrap-up of the 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 October 11, 2013.

 

SAN JOSE SHARKS
1st PLACE, 4-0-0, 8 POINTS
@FearTheFin

Boy, was that an uneventful opening week of the NHL season or what? Nothing of any consequence whatsoever happened in Sharks Territory over the past seven days and change. Just another run-of-the-mill start to a…TOMAS HERTL JUST SCORED AGAIN. And another one. Jeez the Sharks aren’t even playing right now but there’s the hat trick. And there’s the fourth, with Hertl going through his legs and through the giant stick up Adam Oates’ ass. And, yup, out comes little Jumbo. So much stroking.

Sorry, what were we talking about again? Oh right, the first week of the Sharks’ 2013-14 season. It started with yet another win over the Vancouver Canucks last Thursday, San Jose’s tenth straight including this spring’s playoffs. As a Sharks fan, laughing at the Canucks is always good for some safe fun given our team’s vast historical superiority to theirs in every way. Fun fact: did you know Vancouver has never won a Stanley Cup while their two closest geographic rivals have? Hilarious.

But the real fun started during the Sharks’ second straight 4-1 win over a division rival, a victory over Phoenix on Saturday. Less than a minute into the first period, a star was born with 19-year-old Tomas Hertl receiving a breakaway feed from Marc-Edouard Vlasic and sliding a backhander through Mike Smith’s pads. By the ten-minute mark, it was Hertl 2, Coyotes 0.

But that performance paled in comparison to Hertl’s four-goal night against the New York Rangers on Tuesday that lit the hockey world on fire. The performance was so dominant that it completely overshadowed the fact that fellow Sharks rookie and Long Beach native Matt Nieto scored his first NHL goal and added two assists that very game, his third in the league. But Hertl was rightfully the story, not just for wearing out the red light but for his unmatched exuberance while doing so. This kid smiles like he’s advertising a teeth-whitening service and his post-game interview was ten shades of adorable. He’s just the greatest.

This is the NHL, though, so naturally a bunch of grumpy old dudes disagreed. Led by Caps coach Adam Oates and Toronto Star “writer” Damien Cox, Patron Saints Of Defending The Game, a contingent of hockey people decided Hertl scoring his fourth goal in spectacular, between-the-legs, goal-of-the-year-one-week-into-the-season, holy-shit-that-was-so-good-ESPN-remembered-hockey-is-a-thing fashion was “disrespectful” to the game. Just so we’re clear, allowing dudes to punch the crap out of each other leading to massive brain trauma? Part of the game. Cancelling anywhere between half and the entirety of the NHL schedule every few years so some asshole billionaire owners can turn a bigger profit? The cost of doing business. But a 19-year-old dazzling the wide world of sports with his hockey skill? Completely unacceptable.

Of course, the greatest response to anti-Hertlmania backlash came from none other than captain Joe Thornton who shared his planned celebration in the event of a four-goal game. Now that we’re clued in, I shudder to think what Joe would do if he ever earned a day with the Stanley Cup. Then again, that thing has had just about every other fluid inside it.

San Jose capped their first week the same way they started it: with another 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. But those aren’t even noteworthy at this point.

 

ANAHEIM DUCKS
2nd PLACE, 3-1-0, 6 POINTS
@EarlSleek

Hey everybody!  I’m back!… well, kind of.

I used to be a Ducks blogger over at a place called Battle of California.  But then NHL owners got greedy, locked out the league, and a few months in I retired from blogging (along with some other guy).  And for me, that’s been pretty great – BoC has continued to thrive on the edge thanks to some fantastic replacements and now I can enjoy it without having to produce any content myself.  Because if you’re just meeting me today, know this – I’m a pretty goddamn lazy dude.

But TRH reached out for a Ducks weekly angle, and the request seemed right – it’s not too much space to fill, it’s not too often to fill it, and it’s not the first time I’ve been writing for an audience of mostly Duck haters.  Oh yeah – crap, I guess I’m supposed to be writing about them…

The Ducks are 3-1-0 through four games, which is an admirable record, especially if you’re going to allow six goals before scoring any.  But Patrick Roy’s madman tantrum seems to have somehow motivated the Ducks – after that Anaheim picked up one-goal road wins in Minnesota and Winnipeg (thanks, Bogosian!) before demolishing the Rangers last night.  Good thing the Kings lost to that Rangers team or I’d have to place a disturbing image over at BoC.  :)

Okay, enough babble.  Here’s the quick Sleektoon take on the Ducks’ first week-plus (First toon in ten months!  I’m rusty!):

And lastly, PANCAKE WATCH:  Shockingly, the Ducks are 3-0 when they dress Dustin Penner and 0-1 when they don’t.  He’s point-a-game and +5.  But cheer up, Kings fans!  Penner scored his 1st goal last night but then he left the game with an injury! I mean is there anything more Dustin Penner than that!

 

CALGARY FLAMES ?!?
3rd PLACE, 2-0-2, 6 POINTS
@BookOfLoob from Flames Nation

The Flames have played 4 games, and I mean, shut up, have you ever played 4 games?

If I played 4 games, I’d have my cock out. Which is essentially what the Calgary Flames have done to start off the season. Everyone (perhaps rightfully so) expected this team to fall flat on their faces and coat to something like an 0-81-1 season, and everyone would laugh and laugh and laugh.

The Flames, in reply, stated “Oh yeah? Well look at this” while unzipping their pants.

This first week of the season has been the Flames junk in the collective face of all the detractors in the world. I mean, check out the brass balls on this team. Keeping Sean Monahan around when he could be and probably should be lighting it up in junior for one more year? Meaty. Allowing Joey MacDonald to make 90′s style ridoncusaves for THREE GAMES IN A ROW? Girthy. Lee Stempniak all up there on the first line? R.A. Dickey.

Yeah, they’ve let a couple of leads slip away. There have been some leads that have led the Flaming C to believe the win was in the bag, only to learn that it was premature. But this is a young team, boys becoming men, so these things are bound to happen. The good news is the goals are there. As Ray Ferraro, noted genius and wordsmith, put it on national TV where the whole world was watching: “I thought the Flames problems this year would be scoring goals and keeping them out of their net”

That’s good stuff right there. You can’t go on TV and provide that kind of analysis if you never played the game.

But I digress.

The season, it’s long. It’s hard. And there will be some stiff challenges for the Flames as the games roll on and the competition intensifies. But as of right now, the Flames are showing that they might be able to rise to the challenge.

 

VANCOUVER CANUCKS
4th PLACE, 3-2-0, 6 POINTS
@PetBugs13 from Canucks Army

Well, Canucks are off to their typical October start, but it looks like the fanbase up here in Vancouver is already in mid-season form:

The first week was bookended by a couple of predictable losses to the Sharks, but at least there was a bit more interest in the game last night after Joe Thornton, um, let it all hang out in his description of how he’d celebrate a four goal night.

Unfortunately, Joe came up short and we didn’t get to see if he was serious or not. And given that goal-scoring is not exactly is forte, I don’t know that we ever will. Maybe he’s just squeezing the shaft too tight:

 

Now that the Canucks have hit the five game mark, we can look forward to the return of Zack Kassian. He’ll get back into the line-up after his 8 game suspension as the Canucks take on the Habs in a marquis Saturday night match-up…

Oh, who am I kidding? I’m totally going to tune in to the Ottawa/San Jose game to see if Little Joe makes an appearance:

At least he’s wearing protection.

 

PHOENIX COYOTES
5th PLACE, 2-2-0, 4 POINTS
@CarlPutnam from Five For Howling

When the Phoenix Coyotes ownership situation was FINALLY settled this past summer, fans of the Valley’s hockey club expected smooth sailing this season. All appeared well when the new owners announced a new marketing slogan as Hungrier Than Ever and the team opened their season by Radim Vrbata sombrero-ing the Rangers. Fans were impressed by the opening win until they quickly realized this year’s Rangers can’t play defense. Well, unless they are playing the Kings. Though to be fair to the Half’s team, Dionne’s Descendants normally start off seasons as slow as Shane Doan does.

After their home opener the Desert Dogs took to the road. Mike Smith’s teammates stayed at their hotel in Silicon Valley and forced him to face the Shark’s all by lonesome and the result was the veteran goalie giving up 3 goals on 50 shots.  Smith returned the favor in the team’s next contest by letting in a couple of softies in a 6-1 loss at the Mausoleum on Long Island. After the two road pastings and the team’s TV broadcast situation appeared muddled, a new slogan of Sloppier Than Ever seemed more apropos.

The squad’s fortunes changed last night in the unlikeliest places, Detroit. Yes, in the city best known for urban decay, octopi, and crushing Coyotes’ fans playoff dreams, the boys from Phoenix found a road win neatly packaged for them. The next pit stop for the Phoenicians will be in the City of Brotherly Love this evening. One would assume the Coyotes will be able to take Berube’s Bruisers even with backup netminder Thomas Greiss in net. The Yotes’ final game of the road trip is a Sunday matinee with the Canes in the Bible Belt. The RBC Center parking lot may be drier than Phoenix in the middle of June. The Coyotes return home for the annual Kyle Turris Hate Fest on Tuesday October 15th.

 

LOS ANGELES KINGS
6th PLACE, 2-2-0, 4 POINTS
TRH RECAPS: Here

 

EDMONTON OILERS
7th PLACE, 1-3-0, 2 POINTS
@JSBMrevolution

*Pulls out Edmonton Oilers Induced Depression Bingo® card*

Start the season by blowing a two goal lead to a team that’ll maybe win 30 games if they start sacrificing enough nubile virgins to the hockey gods ASAP? CHECK!

Have the Taylor Hall At Center experiment be a lot less “Alexander Flemming Discovers Penicillin”, and a lot more “Let’s Sew A Bunch Of People Ass To Mouth To Make A Human Centipede”? CHECK!

Forced to read a bunch of people on Twitter LEGITIMATELY wanting Craig MacTavish to sign hobby-Cosmonaut Ilya Bryzgalov after two crappy games by Devan Dubnyk? *tightens noose around basement rafters* CHECK!

Against all odds have your coaching staff, and NOT the Vancouver hockey media be the first ones on the receiving end of a profanity laced tirade from John “Put Him In The Goddamn Shootout” Tortorella? *Sorry CBC, you were SO CLOSE* CHECK!

BINGO! WE HAVE A BINGO!!

Two games in and fans are already demanding trades, the media is questioning weather or not it was a mistake to draft Yakupov over Murray, and the entire season is basically over because it’s not like there are still 80 games left or anything and we might as well just start thinking of clever draft slogans that rhyme with Reinhart (Beer Farts For Reinhart? It’s a work in progress…)

Or as it’s referred to in Edmonton: Status Quo.

Thankfully, though, this season has already been COMPLETELY SALVAGED!!! Did you hear that Marty Brodeur? No, that’s not the hollow footsteps of death slowly creeping up behind you, it’s the upstart (DO NOT CALL THEM YOUNG) Edmonton Oilers doing everything in their power to make my heart explode before my 30th birthday!

So at least we know the Oilers CAN, in fact, win a hockey game every once in a while. And the timing couldn’t be more perfect! *Looks at schedule. Sees 12 day, 6 game road trip starting Saturday* Oh god I’m going to be dead by the end of the month AREN’T I?????

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

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.
  • David Amaya

    afraid to put LA’s “THE SEASON IS FALLING!!!!” with the rest of the PAC-7 non CA division??? SHIT! the fans are even bitching about winning a game because they have an allergy to Overtime like Dodgers fans hate staying past the 7th inning!!!
    but as we haven’t even SEEN a PAC-7 team YET! I’ll wait until Oct 21 when we get to C of Red in Castle Staples before Armageddon!