Preview Professor: The Great One Becomes the Greatest

*NOTE FROM The Royal Half: We are beyond excited to welcome Mike Commito to the pages of The Royal Half as one of the winners of North America’s Next Top Blogger™: Season 3!

Mike is located in Sudbury, Ontario (we love the the Wolves jersey!) and has a PhD which makes him easily the smartest person on #TeamTRH by a longshot. To be honest, the fact that he even graduated high school pretty much gives him that honor. And I think we all know what happened the last time a Professor was associated with the LA Kings!


Please welcome Mike to The Royal Half dot com and follow him on the Twitter. Now, Mike gives us the first installment of his regular column, The Preview Professor. Take it away, Mike!

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Professor banner

Like most historians who have completed their PhD, my dream was to blog for t-shirts and Bud Light Lime. With that dream now secure, it is my privilege to bring you The Preview Professor on the Royal Half. Every Tuesday that the Kings, along with their Pacific Division rivals, are in action, we will contextualize the games by exploring a notable anniversary in California history. Each entry involves a game preview, featuring notable trends or storylines and is concluded with my predicted outcome. Don’t worry, we will keep a running tally of my prediction record so you that you can taunt and boo me until your thumbs are sore. Without further ado…

The Great One Becomes the Greatest

In this week in 1989, Wayne Gretzky eclipsed Gordie Howe as the NHL’s all-time leading scorer when he picked up career point 1851. The milestone happened on the road against his former team, the Edmonton Oilers. With less than a minute left in the game and Los Angeles down 4-3, the Kings pulled their goalie and Gretzky potted the tying goal. You would have thought he achieved the feat before a home crowd, as the faithful Oilers fans erupted in a thunderous cheer. It didn’t matter that the game was tied and it probably didn’t matter that Edmonton went on to lose in overtime (Gretzky scored the game-winner as well), history had been made and they got to see the Great One became the greatest.

*No, you’re crying!*

San Jose Sharks at Washington Capitals, 7:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: SJS 2-0-0 (2nd in the Pacific); WSH 1-0-0 (4th in the Metropolitan)

Leading Scorers: Joe Pavelski (1G-2A); Jason Chimera (1G-1A)

Did you know that the word chimera traces its origins back to Greek mythology? It was used to connote a monster that had a lion’s head, a goat’s body, a snake’s tail, and the ability to breathe fire. Terrifying, right? Currently, the word chimera is not used to describe nightmare fuel but is defined as “something that exists only in the imagination and is not possible in reality.” Jason Chimera leading the Washington Capitals in scoring is a chimera, but relax, it’s only been two games and four other Capitals players, including Alex Ovechkin and Justin Williams, have just as many points as him.

Nevertheless, Chimera did look pretty nifty on Saturday night, opening the scoring against New Jersey with a short-handed goal. Speaking of nifty play, how about them Sharks this year? They have certainly looked dominant in their first two games against Pacific Division rivals but I’d expect them to lose a step tonight on the road.

Prediction: Washington by 1

Edmonton Oilers at Dallas Stars, 8:30PM

2015-16 Season Records: EDM 0-2-0 (6th in the Pacific); DAL 1-1-0 (7th in the Central)

Leading Scorers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (1G, 0A); Ales Hemsky (1G, 2A)

Has Connor McDavid scored yet? This is a sincere question that some people have been asking, it has even spawned its own Twitter account.

But the fact that McDavid has been held off the scoresheet for a mere two games, and that this seems to be a concern for some is baffling. Yes, Sidney Crosby and John Tavares registered points in their NHL debuts as rookies, but others, such as Steven Stamkos, did not score a point until his 7th game, and he seems to be doing just fine. McDavid has had strong play in his first two games, his scoring will come and I don’t think it would surprise anyone if he notched his first NHL point this evening in Dallas, but we shouldn’t be concerned if doesn’t.

Prediction: Dallas by 1

St. Louis Blues at Calgary Flames, 9:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: STL 1-1-0 (6th in the Central); CGY 1-1-0 (4th in the Pacific)

Leading Scorers: Vladimir Tarasenko (2G, 1A); Johnny Gaudreau (1G, 3A)

Suggesting that the Blues have had the Flames number over the past three seasons would be an understatement. In their last six meetings, St. Louis is 7-1-1 and have outscored Calgary 34-13 in the process. Moreover, the Flames have not picked up a regulation win against the Blues, at home, since 24 March 2013. Now, that doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, but it was far enough back that the mainstream music world still had an infatuation with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis as “Thrift Shop” was the #1 Billboard track that week *shudders

Prediction: St. Louis by 2


Vancouver Canucks at Los Angeles Kings, 10:30PM

2015-16 Season Records: VAN 2-0-1 (1st in the Pacific); LAK 0-2-0 (7th in the Pacific)

Leading Scorers: Jannik Hansen (1G, 2A); Dustin Brown (0G, 1A)


Third time’s the charm, right? It has to be. Los Angeles has beaten Vancouver in their first home meetings in each of the last three seasons. While the Kings haven’t looked great in their first two games, it’s not all doom and gloom. As Jesse Cohen noted on the most recent episode of All the Kings Men, there were some positives to take away from last week’s loss to the Coyotes. For starters, the Kings controlled much of the play that game.

According to War on Ice, at even-strength 5 v 5, Los Angeles registered 55 shots attempts (31 hit the net, 18 missed, 6 were blocked) compared to Arizona’s 28 shot attempts (19, 6, 3). Putting it this way, the Kings were responsible for two-thirds of all the shot attempts at 5 v 5 that night. Concern about the top line’s lack of production is also misplaced this early on into the season. If you recall, it took Marion Gaborik four games before he picked up his first points as a King and he was already in mid-season form. Give it some time. Mind you, I say this as someone who has grown up watching plenty of Leafs game so I’ll find the silver lining in just about anything.

Prediction: Los Angeles by 1

Last Minute of Play:

Gretzky went on to score another 1,006 points following the monumental game in Edmonton twenty-six years ago. His points record, along with his slew of other NHL records, will likely remain unbroken. Among active NHL players who are nearing retirement age, Jaromir Jagr has 1804 points, followed by Joe Thornton and Jarome Iginla with 1261 and 1228 respectively. Even if you omitted Gretzky’s 963 goals, he would still be the all-time leading scorer with his incredible 1963 assists. To put these numbers in perspective, a rookie joining the league this year, say Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, for example, would need to average 110 points for the next twenty-six seasons in order to catch and surpass Gretzky’s scoring record.

Wayne Gretzky On The Ice

The Kings’ next Tuesday game is October 27 against the Winnipeg Jets. Check back in then as we explore one of America’s most notorious stagecoach robbers, Black Bart, as an entry point for previewing the Pacific Division teams in action that day.

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.