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Black Bart Strikes Again!


In this week in California history, notorious stagecoach (covered wagon) bandit Charles Earl Bowles, aka Black Bart, was reported to have added another robbery to his long list of crimes. On 27 October 1879 Bart had reportedly knocked over another stage on its way from Alturas to Redding. By this point in his criminal career, he had been robbing coaches in California for nearly a decade. When he was finally arrested in 1883, he had robbed at least thirty stage coaches. Bowles was sentenced to six years in San Quentin but was released early for good behavior. Not long after leaving prison, robberies began occurring in Kern County that were similar to Bart’s modus operandi. While law enforcement surmised that Bowles was picking up where he left off, his failing health would have limited has abilities and this was most likely the work of a copycat.

Arizona Coyotes at Boston Bruins, 4:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: ARI 5-3-1 (1st in the Pacific); BOS 3-3-1 (6th in the Atlantic)

Leading Scorers: Max Domi (4G, 6A); David Krejci (5G, 7A)

These teams already met less than two weeks ago, with the Bruins coming away with a 5-3 win in the desert. Arizona rolls into Boston hoping to even the season series, but it’s now evident that the Coyotes play has slowed a bit since starting the season 3-0. The brilliant play of Max Domi and Anthony Duclair notwithstanding, they are currently in the basement in Corsi For % but are second for the highest PDO (on ice shooting % + on ice save %) at 105.9. As their luck (PDO) decreases, we’ll continue to see a club that should be one of the frontrunners for Auston Matthews, as most have pegged, rather than a bubble team.

Prediction: Bruins by 1

Edmonton Oilers at Minnesota Wild, 5:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: EDM 3-6-0 (5th in the Pacific); MIN 5-2-1 (6th in the Central)

Leading Scorers: Connor McDavid (5G, 4A); Zach Parise (7G, 2A)

If Connor McDavid records a goal or an assist tonight against Minnesota he will already have more career points against the Wild than Wayne Gretzky. Really makes you think, right? “But Mike, didn’t Gretzky retire three seasons before NHL hockey returned to Minnesota?” A fair and valid question. The Great One last laced up his skates, as a member of the New York Rangers, on 18 April 1999 and the Wild did not play an NHL game until 6 October 2000. But facts be damned, we live in world of facile, and often irrelevant stat comparisons. Exhibit A:

Prediction: Wild by 1

Los Angeles Kings at Winnipeg Jets, 5:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: LAK 5-3-0 (2nd in the Pacific); WPG 5-2-1 (4th in the Central)

Leading Scorers: Jeff Carter (3G, 4A); Blake Wheeler (4G, 7A)

The Kings will be doing their best to channel Black Bart tonight as they look to steal a win on the road (I’ll show myself out). Los Angeles made just one trip to Winnipeg last year, losing 5-2 in a forgettable game that saw them give up three straight goals in the second period. Their last win in Manitoba was 6 March 2014. In that game, Mike Richards notched the game-winning goal as the Kings cruised to a 3-1 victory over the Jets. While the prospect of entering Winnipeg’s barn is ominous for most teams, Los Angeles is currently red hot and winners of five straight. Tonight they will look to extend their winning streak and rob the Jets of their third home victory.

Prediction: Kings by 1

Anaheim Ducks at Dallas Stars, 5:30PM

2015-16 Season Records: ANA 1-5-2 (6th in the Pacific); DAL 6-2-0 (2nd in the Central)

Leading Scorers: Hampus Lindholm (1G, 1A); Tyler Seguin (4G, 8A)

The Ducks have set a franchise record for the fewest number of regulation goals (6) in their opening eight games. Six?! Jamie Benn, Max Pacioretty, and Zach Parise each have more goals than the Ducks. While Anaheim’s lack of scoring is certainly problematic, especially for Bruce Boudreau, they also have the worst 5v5 On-Ice Shooting Percentage (2.1%). Their luck will improve, but for now their coach remains in the hot seat, which is probably a mistake.

Stunned Bruce Boudreau - The Royal Half

In the first eight games of the last three seasons under Boudreau, Anaheim has scored at least 28 regulation goals. The last time the Ducks scored so little to open the season was in 2003, when they had Mike Babcock behind the bench. After scoring twelve goals in their first eight games, they went on to finish the season with 184 goals (28th) and missed the 2004 playoffs. But when you look at the historic early season goal output for the Ducks (below), you get the sense that, perhaps, this is just a terribly inopportune anomaly and less of a systems issue. At least that is probably what Boudreau is hoping for as they continue this Central Division swing.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 9.07.05 AM

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Prediction: Ducks by 1

Montreal Canadiens at Vancouver Canucks, 7:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: MTL 9-0-0 (1st in the Atlantic); VAN 3-2-3 (4th in the Pacific)

Leading Scorers: Max Pacioretty (7G, 4A); Alexandre Burrows (1G, 5A)

Brandon Prust faces his former team tonight for the first time. In the offseason, Montreal dealt the aging “character guy” and reputable penalty killer to Vancouver, who was looking to unload Zach Kassian. While it is still early to declare a winner in the transaction, at the moment it looks like the Canucks are ahead. Meanwhile, Vancouver has not beaten Montreal at home in regulation since 7 October 2009, a game in which they trounced the Canadiens 7-1 in an offensive spectacle that saw the Sedin twins combine for 2 goals and 5 assists. That’s good news for the Habs, who are looking to tie an NHL record for ten consecutive wins to start a season, a benchmark previously set by the 1993-94 Leafs and 2006-07 Sabres. Unfortunately, some doubt has started creeping into the Canadiens streak. They were considerably outshot in their last two games against divisional bottom feeders, but still managed to eke out wins.

Prediction: The veneer is peeling back and Vancouver will halt the Habs at nine, Canucks by 1

Last Minute of Play:

Bowles was reportedly last seen in California in February 1888, but his body has never been found. His final days are almost as mysterious as his career as a criminal. How was he able to allude law enforcement for as long as he did? Well for starters, he had a pretty good system in place. Bart would watch the coaches from a distance using powerful field glasses (precursor to modern binoculars). When he determined there were no armed guards on board, he made his move and sieged the vehicle. But Black Bart was also no ordinary bandit, he had a code (a man’s got to have a code). He was known to never take money and valuables from women who were unlucky enough to be aboard one of his targets. Moreover, Bart had reportedly left messages behind at several robbery sites to taunt the police detectives. One from 1877 read,

I’ve labored long and hard for bread,

for honour, and for riches.

But on my corns too long you’ve tread,

you fine-haired sons of bitches.”

Probably shouldn’t be glorifying the work of a notorious outlaw, but what a badass.

Professor Prediction Record: 2-2

Further Reading

William Collins and Bruce Levene. Black Bart: The True Story of the West’s Most Famous Stagecoach Robber (1992)

* Next Tuesday the Kings travel to St. Louis to take on the Blues and we’ll explore the completion of the Los Angeles aqueduct in 1913.

Professor Mike hails from Sudbury, Ontario (4 hours north of Toronto) a place that has more Kings connections than you’d think. The city’s northern boundary reaches as far as the community of Levack, hometown of Kings great Dave Taylor. As a child, Mike once met Taylor in a gravel pit, as you can imagine, he was thoroughly impressed. He has also spent more than a few bleary-eyed nights at the Beef n Bird, a tavern founded by Justin Williams’ great uncle Jerry Toppazzini. Mike’s only wish is that one day people will call him “the Professor” with the same adoration bestowed upon Ben Scrivens. You can follow Mike Commito on Twitter @MikeCommito.