Preview Professor: Earthquake!

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On this day in California history, San Francisco was rocked by an earthquake in 1957. Registering 5.3 on the Richter scale, it was the strongest shock since the horrific 1906 quake. For a whole generation of residents in the Golden Gate city, the seismic activity that morning represented the greatest temblor they had ever experienced. When the dust settled, there was no significant infrastructural damage and, thankfully, no lives were lost nor serious injuries sustained.

Anaheim Ducks at Montreal Canadiens, 4:30PM

2015-16 Season Records: ANA 40-22-9 (2nd in the Pacific); MTL 33-34-6 (6th in the Atlantic)

Leading Scorers: Ryan Getzlaf (11G, 44A); Max Pacioretty (24G, 29A)

In order to accommodate the current state of the Montreal Canadiens, the NHL has agreed to let the Ducks and Habs face off in a flooded parking lot beside the General.

As Anaheim seemingly becomes increasingly more lethal down the stretch, they should have little difficulty running through Montreal’s injury riddled lineup. Even if most of the Canadiens weren’t already in the infirmary, the Ducks are 4-1-0 in the last five visits to the Bell Centre and should make short work of the battered Habs.

Prediction: Ducks by 1

Vancouver Canucks at Winnipeg Jets, 5:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: VAN 27-32-12 (5th in the Pacific); WPG 29-37-6 (7th in the Central)

Leading Scorers: Daniel Sedin (26G, 32A); Blake Wheeler (19G, 44A)

Here is some pretty sage advice for this time of the year

That being said, I challenge you to write a meaningful preview for either of these teams at this point of the season without referencing the draft lottery at least once. Moreover, the Canucks and Jets are only separated by a mere two points in the league standings, so a win tonight could significantly shake up their respective odds for the rights to the coveted first overall pick. Vancouver is currently sitting at 9.5%, while Winnipeg is holding steady at 11.5%.

Here are the latest results from the NHL Lottery Simulator, I think they speak for themselves.


Prediction: Jets by 1

Los Angeles Kings at Minnesota Wild, 5:30PM

2015-16 Season Records: LAK 44-23-5 (1st in the Pacific); MIN 34-28-11 (6th in the Central)

Leading Scorers: Anze Kopitar (24G, 41A); Mikko Koivu (16G, 33A)

The Kings should be safe from any seismic activity tonight while in the so-called State of Hockey. Minnesota had a mild earthquake in April 2011, but hasn’t felt the impact of a significant tremor since 1975. The only rumblings at the Excel Energy Center may occur when the Kings encounter their former teammate Jarret Stoll for the first time. The two-Stanley Cup winner signed with the Rangers as a free agent in the offseason, only to be put on waivers and by claimed by the Wild in December. Stoll hasn’t exactly had a season worth writing a home about, but facing his former employer this evening may provide the jolt he needs to break out of his 13-game scoreless slump.

Prediction: Kings by 1

Edmonton Oilers at Arizona Coyotes, 7:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: EDM 29-39-7 (7th in the Pacific); ARI 31-34-7 (4th in the Pacific)

Leading Scorers: Taylor Hall (23G, 35A); Oliver Ekman-Larsson (19G, 30A)

With recent speculation about how Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl may be the only untouchable Oilers in the organization heading into the offseason, it’s time to start thinking about personnel changes for next year. Thinking ahead, Edmonton would do well to try to get a player like Tobias Rieder. According to War on Ice, amongst Coyotes forwards at 5 v 5 (min. 500 minutes TOI), Rieder is fifth in Points Per 60 at 1.49 and fourth in Corsi For % at 50.15. Below is how he stacks up against one of the Oilers selections in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Warrior Chart

Could you imagine if Edmonton was able to select a player like Rieder, even in a late round, and develop him into an all-around top six forward? Now that would be something.

Prediction: Coyotes by 1

St. Louis Blues at San Jose Sharks, 7:30PM

2015-16 Season Records: STL 42-22-9 (2nd in the Central); SJS 41-25-6 (3rd in the Pacific)

Leading Scorers: Vladimir Tarasenko (34G, 29A); Joe Thornton (17G, 53A)

San Jose has already taken the season series this year, with two wins already in hand, and will look to sweep St. Louis tonight. In one of those meetings, the Sharks doubled up the Blues 6-3 with Joe Thornton posting an impressive 4-point performance. Most of us are still relieved he never reached the 4-goal mark in that game. Students of history should be quick to remember that we are just barely a year removed from when the Blues starched the Sharks 7-2 twice in one season. One of the key contributors from those matchups, Alex Steen (2G, 4A), however, remains on injured reserve, and is unlikely to return to action this evening. Meanwhile, Vladimir Tarasenko is heating up this month. He has 5G and 4A in his last eight games and scored his 100th career goal against the Canucks this past Saturday.

Prediction: Blues by 1

Last Minute of Play

775px-Sanfranciscoearthquake1906Aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

While San Francisco came out of the 1957 earthquake relatively unscathed, those old enough to remember the tremors from 1906 certainly would have feared the worst. In the early morning hours of April 18, nearly one-hundred years ago, the ground began shaking in the Bay Area, with the reverberations felt as far north as southern Oregon and as far south as Los Angeles. While damage caused by the seismic activity was significant, it was the subsequent fire which wreaked the most havoc. Initial estimates from U.S. Army relief operations placed the loss of life at 664, but more extensive research now places the figure as high as 3,000 deaths. To put that in perspective, San Francisco’s population at the time was roughly 400,000. Moreover, of those people, more than half were left homeless in the wake of the earthquake and conflagration.

Meanwhile, the fault lines under the Pacific continue to shift as TRH Baby furthers her quest for the coveted Western Conference Regular Season Champions banner.

Updated Pacific Division Standings

  1. Los Angeles Kings (93 Points)
  2. Royal Half Baby (92 Points)
  3. Anaheim Ducks (89 Points)
  4. San Jose Sharks (88 Points)
  5. Preview Professor (70 Points)
  6. Arizona Coyotes (69 Points)
  7. Calgary Flames (68 Points)
  8. Vancouver Canucks (66 Points)
  9. Edmonton Oilers (65 Points)

Professor Prediction Record: 35-22

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.