PACIFIC WAR ROOM – 10.25.13

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 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 October 25, 2013.

 

SAN JOSE SHARKS
1st PLACE, 8-1-1, 17 POINTS
@FearTheFin from Fear the Fin

 

Considering the emotional turbulence of the week prior, in which Dan Boyle sustained an injury after being belted into the end boards on a dirty Maxim Lapierre hit and the Sharks were handed their first loss of the season in a shootout with the Stars, things were going uniformly well for the Sharks this week until the final second of their final game. That familiar gut-punch feeling from playoffs past made an unwelcome return appearance as the Sharks dropped last night’s game to the Bruins, a game they dominated from buzzer to second-before-buzzer, courtesy David Krejci deflecting an Adam McQuaid point shot past Antti Niemi 19:59 into the third period. If only we could blame it on coulombs.

 

VANCOUVER CANUCKS
2nd PLACE, 7-4-1, 15 POINTS
@PetBugs13 from Canucks Army

 

The Canucks continued through the middle stretch of their seven game road trip out east. Normally I would say “tough”  seven game road trip, but it is mostly against Eastern Conference teams, so how tough could it really be?

Through this middle stretch they managed a shoot-out loss against the Penguins, after taking a late lead and giving it away seconds later, an outright loss against the Blue Jackets when they couldn’t score late despite a glorious, point-blank opportunity for Chris Higgins, and an overtime win over the Islanders after giving up they tying goal in the last minute.

*deep breath*

Man, the only thing longer than this road trip was that sentence.

That game against the Islanders was a back-and-forth, spirited affair, with nine goals scored between the two teams. Not exactly a glorious return to Long Island for Roberto Luongo. You may have forgotten, but it was the Islanders that originally drafted Luongo. He even played there for a season before Mike Milbury traded him to the Panthers because he had drafted Rick DiPietro first overall. Yeah, the same Rick DiPietro the Islanders are now paying not to play for them.

You know who else the Islanders are still paying not to play for them? Alexei Yashin. The guy that Milbury acquired by giving up Chara and the pick that became Jason Spezza. That’s right, Mike Milbury was more hilarious as an NHL GM than he is as a TV analyst.

Anyway, back to the Canucks-Islanders game. The other notable event in that game was this hit by Frans Nielsen on Ryan Kesler (GIF courtesy of @choderama):

image

After the hit there was some question whether it was a vicious elbow/headshot that deserved a suspension or just Kesler being Kesler. The lines are split pretty evenly down the line between Canucks fans and everyone else. Although even self-proclaimed Canucks homer, @harrisonmooney came down on the side of it being a dive over at Pass it to Bulis.

I dunno, looks to me like it was neither. Whether the little elbow jab from Nielsen made contact on not is hard to tell from this angle. But Nielsen knocked Kesler off balance and he pretty clearly fell awkwardly into the boards. The head snap comes when his chin hits the padded stanchion between the benches or comes down on top of the boards.

Either way, if Tortorella is really wondering why the Canucks aren’t getting any calls, it’s really quite simple:

 

Following the Islanders game, the Canucks moved on to New Jersey to face Corey Schneider and the Devils. Schneider seems to be getting the bulk of the starts lately, so there may be a goalie controversy brewing in New Jersey. Interestingly enough, the Oilers also seem to have a goalie controversy:

As for the game itself, not sure if it has anything to do with having guys named Zubrus, Zajac and Zidlicky in the line-up, but this one was a real snooZZZer.

Yeah. That’s how bad it was. So bad, I had to resort to that lame joke.

 

 

ANAHEIM DUCKS
3rd PLACE, 7-3-0, 14 POINTS
@EarlSleek

 

A pretty busy week for the Ducks, so let’s just get started on this tale of magical transformations.

Last Friday, the Ducks were down by a goal late in regulation to the visiting Coyotes, but then Nick “El Niño” Bonino decided to completely re-invent hockey with the discovery of an entirely new type of shot.  Why shoot through a screen, where deflections and bounces can send a puck well wide of the net, when you can alternatively shoot over a screen?  Over Penner and under the bar!  Note how Penner attempts to head the puck in – he misses, fortunately, but I think even if he had got a piece and it went in the net, that would have counted.  The Ducks magically transformed that loss into a victory, scoring 4 times in the 6-round shootout.

On Sunday, the Ducks were down by two goals after the first to the visiting Stars, but then fortunes turned quickly and convincingly.  After Hiller allowed 3 goals in the first, Coach Kirby decided to throw in Frederik Anderson for his first NHL action and he proceeded to stop  everything.  The Ducks scored the next five goals (sadly, no Bonino lobs this time) and cruised to a win, and shockingly even scored twice on the power play and once shorthanded – that’s three of Anaheim’s four (!) special-teams goals this season, all in one game.  Through that strategic special teams concentration, Ducks also magically transformed that loss into a victory.

On Tuesday, however, the tables were turned.  The Ducks hit the road in Toronto, and things were starting nicely.  Anaheim was up two goals early in the second period after only allowing 2 shots on goal in the first – one of those from center ice.  But then the Ducks got sloppy, probably because Randy Carlyle was in the building – they fell into penalty trouble and had particular trouble with 2-on-1s featuring Phil Kessel, and as a result they surrendered the next four goals.  The Ducks magically transformed that victory into a regulation loss.

Yesterday’s game in Montreal actually featured no magical transformations – the game’s start looked like a Ducks loss, and it stayed that way throughout – Habs won this one 4-1.  But since I wrote most of this week’s recap before that game happened, let’s just pretend something magically transformed – Hampus Lindholm finally became a man.  Stupid Ducks, can’t even blow a lead to help this lazy blogger’s narrative.  Grumble grumble.

So 2 wins, 2 losses, and while the week did get progressively worse, at least the standings points the Ducks are currently giving away now and in the near future are going to the eastern conference.

PANCAKE WATCH: Dustin Penner got Garbutted, and while his team has headed out on a lengthy east coast road trip, Penner’s stuck in Anaheim going through concussion protocol and Twitter rage.  And while hilarious, Penner’s absence does seem to be somehow costing the Ducks.

When Dustin Penner is dressed, the Ducks are 6-0-0, outscoring opponents 4.0 – 2.0.  Power play in those games is at 12.5%; penalty kill is at 82.6% (though Penner doesn’t really see time on either special teams unit, I’m guessing he’s a fantastic cheerleader).  When Penner is scratched or injured, the Ducks are 1-3-0, getting outscored 2.0 – 3.8.  PP in those games is at 0.0%; PK is at 64.3%.  At 5-on-5, Penner has been on the ice for seven goals-for and zero goals-against, with a completely sustainable PDO of 1019.

Get well soon, magic man.

 

PHOENIX COYOTES
4th PLACE, 6-3-2, 14 POINTS
@CarlPutnam from Five For Howling

 

What a week it was for the Phoenix Coyotes, minus the thud at the end. They had a 7 game point streak and plenty of scintillating goals. We are talking goal scoring flair not seen since the days of the Cubist Kachina jerseys. What’s amazing is that none of the Yotes’ current snipers are from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.  Is that even possible?

Phoenix started the week with a brutal Friday night shootout loss to the Ducks. For the second game in a row the Desert Dogs blew a lead. This shootout was the rare time the Bettman point skills competition seemed like a good thing.  Both teams scored amazing goals in the 6 round affair, including Radim Vrbata using his Vrby Move ™, but the best was Mike Ribeiro’s move to beat Jonas Hiller.

The next night, the Coyotes were back on home ice to take on their old playoff nemesis the Red Wings. Like they did against the Sens the prior Tuesday, Phoenix chose not to show up for the 1st period. Then early in the second Shane Doan received a penalty shot. The result was less than spectacular. However, after Mike Smith’s stinger, the team looked like a pack of rabid dogs. Antoine Vermette showed the Captain how it’s done and Martin Hanzal scored on a breakaway to take the lead which, for a change, the Coyotes wouldn’t relinquish. As the clock wound down Mike Smith even got in on the goal scoring action. Relive the magic via

This past Tuesday the Flames came to town fresh off a win in L.A. Phoenix wasn’t as hospitable as Darryl Sutter’s club. Radim Vrbata started things off with a nifty PP goal from a weak angle on Joey “Don’t Call Me Vesa” McDonald. The Yotes blew another lead, but the hottest Coyote this past week, Mike Ribeiro ended up with a game winner in the 3rd.

The final game of the week was played in the building where the Royal Half wastes his life away. The Coyotes spent another 1st period doing anything but playing hockey. They were down 4-0 by the first intermission. To their credit they didn’t quit and came back and tied the game in the 3rd.  They must have then believed the 1st period of the second game of a doubleheader had begun because they sure played like it from that point on. They gave up a shortie to Mike Richards and an empty netter which gave Dwight King a hat trick. Yes., Dwight Frackin’ King. If you give up three goals to a guy like King you pretty much deserve whatever you get in life.

Phoenix plays 3 home games this coming week. Dallas Eakins and his junior level hockey team come to the Valley on Saturday. On Tuesday night the Wretched Royals from SoCal invade for a rematch. The Yotes finish off the coming week with a contest against the Perds on Howl-O-Ween. Nashville should be a bit more Leprechaun than Friday the 13th without goaltender Pekka Rinne.

 

 

LOS ANGELES KINGS
5th PLACE, 7-4-0, 14 POINTS
@TheRoyalHalf from The Royal Half

 

Sure, the Kings might have beat the Dallas Stars 5-2 and then lost to the Calgary Flames 3-2. But the real excitement came Thursday night when the Kings beat the Phoenix Coyotes 7-4 on a hat trick from #74 to put the Kings record to…7-4. Move over 666… there’s a new Sign of the Devil in town!

 

CALGARY FLAMES
6th PLACE, 4-4-2, 10 POINTS
@BookOfLoob from Flames Nation

 

The Flames just had a game finish not too long ago, so much like TJ Brodie above here, I’m taking care of business at the last second. You know, how like TJ Brodie scored a last minute goal? In the last minute? Against the Kings? Who lost?

Yeah, you know. You know the Kings lost to the Flames.

Outside of the Flames beating the Kings, which is a thing that happened this week, the news de jour focused on, again, Sean Monahan. There was so much “Will He, Won’t He?” surrounding the kid that even Ross and Rachel in season 2 thought it was ridiculous.

In the end, and after scoring another goal and steadily improving his play as he went along, the decision was made. To the shock of not even 1 person anywhere, Monahan was informed by Jay Feaster, allegedly a GM, that he wasn’t going anywhere, and also that he had to move out of Jiri Hudler’s house (seriously, Jiri Hudler), and in with some billets.

So now the debate is officially over, and we’re all officially #TeamMonahan, which is good, because Bob Hartley hates Sven Baertschi, so we need a new youngster to be excited about, and Monahan fits the bill.

Yes, the Swiss wunderkin was a healthy scratch against the Dallas Stars, even though he played well against the Kings, who the Flames beat, in case you forgot, ostensibly so he could sit up in the press box and learn what he’s doing wrong, which is the dumbest thing you or I have ever heard.

It’s good though, because it made room on the roster for Tim Jackman and /WANKING MOTION. The good news is the Flames were the only team this week who didn’t have anyone suspended for removing an opponent’s head from his body so that’s good.

So was beating the Kings. Which the Flames did. They beat the Kings.

The rest of the week was uneventful. They lost a game to Phoenix that no one ever will admit to have seeing, and Chris Breen made his NHL debut, playing 7 minutes of largely terrible hockey. Matty Franchise returned. Joey MacDonald continued to get starts against all odds. Karri Ramo was decent in the games he suited up for, like the one where he beat the Kings.

It was an alright week, right, THIS GUY?

PeanutButterJellyTimeSadHartley

QoO107G

 You better believe that guy is figuring heavily into my future work. Thanks to @GoldAndOrSmith and @seangentille for gifting me these gifs.

Hey, did the Flames beat the Kings? TRH EDITORS NOTE: Shut up, jerkface.

 

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

 

Boy, what a difference a week makes. Let’s start with the positives:

The Oilers employed the Randy Carlyle Initiative® of being horrifically outshot and still finding a way to win, downing the “Regular” chip flavor of the NHL, the Ottawa Senators. The best game of the season for Devan “I won’t be letting in 5 goals every game, just every other game” Dubnyk saw him make what I assume is a career high 35 saves, and Jordan Leslie Eberle did what he always does; impregnates all the woman within a 50 KM (31 miles) radius by virtue of his silky soft hands (AN HE GOT A CUTE BUTT TOO!

Two days later the Oilers waltzed down Rue Sainte-Catherine to get what my friend Anthony lovingly refers to as “touch dances”, before heading to the Bell Centre (Canadian for Center) to stamp out a huge fire carelessly sparked by Lars Eller. Noted snipers Ladislav Smid and Jeff Petry (19 goals in 633 NHL games combined) more than picked up the slack for the M.I.A Taylor Hall, JUST LIKE WE ALL TOTALLY KNEW THEY WOULD! (Also another great game by Devan Dubnyk. Who saw this coming? I guess Bryz will just have to sit tight in Las Vegas a little while longer)

Hold on, a TWO GAME WIN STREAK?? *faints*

Not everything is great in Oilers Nation however (because the hockey gods are still getting us back for the excessive 80’s I guess?). All good things come to an end, and as mandated by management since the 09 season the Oilers swiftly and methodically lost to perpetual bridesmaid Washington (not like, the maid of honor, but the sister of the groom that gets added on last minute so she doesn’t feel left out) stalling their win-streak at a season high 2 games.

BUT WAIT, it gets worse.

As mentioned earlier Taylor Hall left the Sens game in the first period after taking a good bonk to the ol’ knee. All of northern Alberta is still waiting breathlessly to find out whether or not the injury is serious but the most optimistic reports assume he’ll be on the shelf for 3 to 4 weeks, which is EXACTLY what Edmonton needs right now!

Ryan Smyth apparently woke up in Ottawa and realized he was, in fact, 100 years old, so the Oilers were forced to ship him back home in a wooden box (not because he was dead, but doesn’t he just SEEM like a guy who would be really comfortable sleeping in a wooden box for like 6 hours?). So for those of you keeping tabs the Oilers injury list goes as follows: Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner, Ryan Smyth, Jesse “Uncle Yessy” Joensuu, and most notably, Steve “Somehow has an NHL job despite possessing zero hockey skills” MacIntyre. So I GUESS you could say they’re missing some pretty important pieces at the moment.

Nail Yakupov is still goaless, trailing behind offensive phenom Luke Gazdic, Boyd Gordon is leading the team in scoring (!!!!!!!), the powerplay is 0 for like 28 or probably worse by now, and the player leading the team in hits isn’t even tall enough for some of the rides at Disneyland.

So….. I mean….. *masturbates to this while crying*

SEE YOU ON SUNDAY LOS ANGELES!!

 

 

 

TRH WILD CARD WATCH™

Catch The Fever!!!
(offer not valid in Edmonton)

 

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.