Preview Professor: City of L.A.

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This week in California history, Los Angeles was incorporated as a municipality on 4 April 1850. Of course, L.A. has a much longer history that stretches back to 1781 when it was originally founded by Spanish governor Felipe de Neve. It’s full official name, at least according to early documents, was El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula, which translates to the Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels by the River of Porciúncula. It didn’t exactly roll off the tongue, so it seemed as though it would an inevitable to adopt a shorter version. As you might have guessed, Los Angeles is the abbreviation that stuck.

San Jose Sharks at Minnesota Wild, 5:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: SJS 44-29-6 (3rd in the Pacific); MIN 38-31-11 (5th in the Central)

Leading Scorers: Joe Thortnon (18G, 60A); Mikko Koivu (17G, 39A)

Tonight the Wild will look to do something that haven’t done since 2011-12. No, not miss the playoffs, rather, win a season series against the San Jose Sharks. After splitting the previous two meetings this season, Minnesota has the chance to put a bow on this one. History is on their side, as the Sharks are 3-5-2 in their last ten trips to the Xcel Center. However, Joe Thornton is having his most productive season since 2009-10 and if you’ve seen his beard lately, you know it wouldn’t be wise to bet against a guy who was the real-life inspiration for The Revenant.

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Prediction: Sharks by 1

Arizona Coyotes at Chicago Blackhawks, 5:30PM

2015-16 Season Records: ARI 35-37-7 (4th in the Pacific); CHI 45-26-7 (3rd in the Central)

Leading Scorers: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (21G, 32A); Patrick Kane (43G, 57A)

The Coyotes and Blackhawks have already had two spirited tilts in the desert this season. Chicago took both of those games, which saw the two clubs combine for 21 goals. They now bring their own brand of firewagon hockey to the Mad House, where we should expect to see a more tempered result. While the Blackhawks beat the Coyotes 6-1 at home on 20 January 2015, the previous four straight meetings at the United Center were all decided by shootouts, with the edge going to Phoenix Arizona.

Wait, that actually worked out to Doan’s advantage last year?

Prediction: Blackhawks by 2

Los Angeles Kings at Calgary Flames, 6:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: LAK 46-28-5 (2nd in the Pacific); CGY 33-40-6 (5th in the Pacific)

Leading Scorers: Anze Kopitar (25G, 45A); Johnny Gaudreau (30G, 45A)

The Kings love going to southern Alberta, well, as much as anyone could love going to southern Alberta. In their last ten trips to Calgary, Los Angeles is 8-2-1, which includes a 4-1 victory this past New Year’s Eve and 3-0 blanking on March 31.

However, the real contest tonight will be between myself and TRH Baby. She’s been so good this season that she’s almost made me believe that it’s possible to predict the outcomes of hockey games. To prepare for our matchup, I’ve assessed each of her predictions and craned myself over nearly a full twenty minutes of footage. The heir apparent to the TRH Preview Professor franchise is 2-1 on Kings-Flames games this season, but the pick from that latest game is still being contested.

TRH Baby-March 31

Officially, she picked the Flames, but that longing reach makes it clear that she was not committed to the Calgary selection. As a result, we have to assume that if she actually had her heart set on the Kings, then she deliberately picked the Flames just to jinx them. Bravo, Royal Half Baby, bravo! All that being said:

Prediction: Kings by 1

Winnipeg Jets at Anaheim Ducks, 7:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: WPG 32-39-8 (7th in the Central); ANA 44-24-10 (1st in the Pacific)

Leading Scorers: Blake Wheeler (22G, 50A); Ryan Getzlaf (12G, 49A)

Remember last April when writers were penning articles with headlines that included “Speedy Jets might be too much to handle for Ducks” or columns with predictions like “a big, physical Jets team that could upset if Ondrej Pavelec plays like he has the past two months”? Twelve months later, the story couldn’t be any different as the Ducks will use tonight’s matchup against the Jets as a final tune up before they look to make a deep run in the postseason. Meanwhile, as the Jets look ahead to the NHL Draft Lottery, they may just have the most compelling narrative amongst the non-playoff teams. Jeff Marek recently proffered up a gem, suggesting that with Arizona taking Winnipeg’s original franchise, it would only be fitting if the Jets were able to snag Scottsdale native Auston Matthews in the draft and close the loop on this storyline.

Prediction: Ducks by 2

Last Minute of Play

After Mexico achieved independence from Spain in 1821, Los Angeles became a Mexican possession. It was only after the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), through the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, that saw Los Angeles and Mexico’s California holdings surrendered to the United States. Two years later, Los Angeles was incorporated and just five months after that, on 9 September 1850, California became the thirty-first state in the Union.

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Los Angeles mayor Fletcher Bowron celebrates the city’s centenary in 1950

Thanks for following along this regular season, it’s been a blast bringing you some California history and Pacific Division previews. It’s truly been a privilege to write for the Royal Half and share with you my Frankenstein of history and hockey. And while I was bested by a one-year old baby when it came to TRH predictions, I certainly didn’t walk away empty-handed.

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Professor Prediction Record: 38-24

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.