Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sean O'Donnell is a King

Step aside, little ones.


More coming, but first let's hear the various sides yell "NOOOOOOOO!!!!" in the comments.

[UPDATE: The OC Register has more:
The conditional pick means that if O’Donnell is traded again before the deadline this season, the Ducks will receive the Kings’ third round pick. If the the Kings keep O’Donnell past the deadline, the Ducks would get nothing in return.
Clever deal. Normally I'd expect Lombardi to turn down deals just to keep his own draft pick, but if he gets offered a 2nd-rounder, would he turn it down?]

7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens Fantasy Hockey Players

POGS ... Surely one of the most chilling chapters of American history

When I began putting this post together, I actually imagined it could fit reasonably in one post. If/once you browse through these excessive articles, you'll agree that was a theory fit for The No Spin Zone.*

Anyhooters, I decided to break this mammoth thing down as such: the Cliff Notes version is here in this post...but for those of you who prefer specifics over theory, I have links to a very early version of a blog I'm working on.

(Expect the occasional bit of shameless self-promotion on that in the coming weeks/months/years. Please excuse some of the typos as I wrote that thing in one fatigue induced sitting)

Naturally, this is still a huge post and there's some pretty simple rules here. At the same time, I'm confident if you keep these things in mind and a Cheat Sheet with you ... you probably won't suck too bad.

With all that, here's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective - and Lowly Laid - Fantasy Hockey Mangers" (and their corresponding links)

1. (and this is huge) Know your categories

This shouldn't be difficult, but man oh man is it crucial. For one thing, there's categories that make or break some players.

The dark horse PIM guy is Phoenix's Daniel Carcillo. He could be had very late in many not so savvy drafts. And although he actually has some respectable offensive skills, it must be known that he's probably only worthwhile in a league with PIM.

Seriously, 300+ PIM. That's craziness.

For a rarer stat like faceoff wins, take a look at which wingers get FW ... and do yourself a favor and draft Rod the Bod. Sure, he looks like Joe Camel - but that can just give you the incentive to re-name your team "the Cameltoes."

(You know, if you're a douche)

But the most important thing to consider with categories is Goalies. If your league has anywhere near a 50-50 split in offensive stats and goalie stats, it's better to pay premium prices for the Jiggy-Brodeur-Nabokov's instead of rolling the dice with Bryzgalovs.

Otherwise, the general rule is to get offense first and goaltending in the middle rounds. (Although I usually go for a premium goalie and a sleeper to be honest)

2. Know who's injured

Nothing hurts your team - but most importantly, makes you look like kind of an idiot - more than picking a guy who was recently injured.

Havlat and the IR - like a bizarro world peanut butter and chocolate.

The best sources are news sites such as TSN, ESPN and so forth. Of course, the blogosphere can provide you answers too(albeit in our patented scatter-brained way).

3. Think economics - scarcity rules (aka Centers are a dime a dozen)

Judging supply and demand can allow you to get more of your favorite choices than you might think. As a general rule, high scoring wingers, power forwards and elite defensemen are the rarest commodities in fantasy hockey.

In my three drafts, my first picks were Alex Ovechkin (#1 pick) and Henrik Zetterberg (twice, late picks). I even had the dilemma of Joe Thornton vs. Z, but chose Hank because of his position - and, let's be honest, he DOES look like Jared Leto.

Even though I think Jumbo Joe might put up more points and is less injury prone, I chose Z because there just aren't many high level LW. The gamble paid off as I was able to get Olli Jokinen and Ryan Getzlaf later on in the draft.

Again, every league is different, so consult rule #1.

4. It's good to be cold hearted, with a mercenary instinct.

Todd Bertuzzi is a piece of shit. But I draft him EVERY year. It's like some awful tradition. Think Thanksgiving Dinner for the Jackson family.

5. Still, being a mushy fan is OK - in the later rounds, at least. Sometimes.

Nothing's more groan inducing than a homer who runs out of players he/she knows and starts picking bit players from their favorite team. (Seriously, someone picked Jeff fucking Halpern!!!)

But as much of a handicap as that can be, it actually can accomplish two goals: 1) getting you a late round steal and b) giving you just that much more rooting interest.

Think of rules 4 and 5 as something of a Yin and Yang.

6. Get yourself a Cheat Sheet or two

The Yahoo! drafts can be a high pressure situation with its 1:30 countdown clock. Sure, you could probably draft a solid team with Yahoo's snazzy interface, but its rankings are good but not perfect.

For instance, it greatly underrates guys such as Joe Sakic and Teemu Selanne because of injuries.

Unless you're in a BoC draft, guys like S. Niedermayer, Marleau and Selanne are steals

If you use/read nothing else, the Cheat Sheet I put together is the most useful thing of all. The links there have rankings for goalies and an overall top 100 from a fantasy expert who actually knows what he's doing. It is HIGHLY recommended.

In fact, here it is again in case you have some sort of scrolling disease.

7. Ultimately, it's still your choice

It's not clear how well this post will be received, but if a lot of people follow this advice and lose I expect some bitching. In writing this, a sobering thought came to me:

There probably was an expert (possibly expertS) who recommended POGS as an investment.

So, remember, if you consider yourself a John McCain-ian Maverick, then bring your turkeyneck down to the draft in whatever way you want. This is a free country, so don't blame me if you end up with Markus Naslund.

The full guide can be seen here. Hope you guys find this helpful...

*-This, in my mind, might be the most politically correct way to refer to something as "retarded."

You Know Who Sucks? Kyle Calder

Last year, Kyle Calder had about 300 more minutes on the ice than Raitis Ivanans, 129 of those minutes being power play time. Calder scored 7 goals last year; Ivanans scored 6.

The funny thing is that Calder should probably be demoted to the minors but the Kings can't do that because they need his salary to reach the salary floor. I hoped they could just send him down because he was over 35 but apparently he's only 29? He looks like he's 40. Maybe my view of what a 29 year-old should look like is skewed because my brother is 29 and he looks like a baby.

Oh, and completely unrelated but Californication has been awesome this season. I didn't know where they were going to go after last season's finale but I underestimated how bad ass Hank Moody is. Also good: Honey Smacks. That frog makes a good fucking cereal. Where was it written in the Bible that I can't enjoy a cereal just because I hit a certain age? Total tastes like shit so I'll eat my Honey Comb if I want, Captain of the Cereal Police.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Draft like the pros, Part III

Just like last year, and the year before, I participated again in James Mirtle's super-deep Blogger Invitational fantasy draft this past weekend, one that includes a huge list of blogger know-it-alls. Dr. Mirtle, Matt of BoA, Puck Daddy, the Forechecker, Spector, Chris! of CiO, Kent of Five Hole Fanatics, Japers Rink, Pension Plan Puppets, Islanders Army, and even PJ of Sharkspage all took 2 1/2 hours of our Saturdays to prove once again the nerdly depth of our hockey knowledge.

All told, it was 18 teams each drafting 20 players -- a grand total of 360, 60% of the NHL's available positions. And if you think that's deep, this year represents a step backwards! The previous two years, this league has been played with 20 teams. On a general level, though, the rules are the same as before (head-to-head):

Positions: C x3, LW x2, RW x2, F x2, D x4, Util, G x2, BN x4, IR x4
Categories: G, A, +/-, PIM, PPG, PPA, GWG, SOG, W, GAA, SV, SV%, SHO

There are a few twists, though. One, it cost me money this year, which theoretically I could win back, but I'm not banking on that. Two, it promises to cost me money next year, too, because I'm allowed to keep two players for next year's team. Personally I feel like I'm a shell of a fantasy player; I managed to go this whole offseason without even seeing a fantasy guide. Still, without revealing too much about "who was available", here's how I managed this year, with some draft notes below:

Rd - Pick - Player
1 - 4 - Evgeni Malkin, C PIT
2 - 33 - Thomas Vanek, LW BUF
3 - 40 - Ryan Miller, G BUF
4 - 69 - Peter Mueller, C PHX
5 - 76 - Simon Gagne, LW PHI
6 - 105 - Teemu Selanne, RW ANA
7 - 112 - Manny Legace, G STL
8 - 141 - Drew Stafford, RW BUF
9 - 148 - Chris Kunitz, LW ANA
10 - 177 - Jiri Hudler, RW DET
11 - 184 - Jason Labarbera, G LAK
12 - 213 - Sergei Samsonov, LW CAR
13 - 220 - Joni Pitkanen, D CAR
14 - 249 - Brendan Morrison, C ANA
15 - 256 - Douglas Murray, D SJS
16 - 285 - Devin Setoguchi, RW SJS
17 - 292 - Shane O'Brien, D TBL
18 - 321 - Loui Eriksson, LW DAL
19 - 328 - Nathan Gerbe, C BUF
20 - 357 - Steve Montador, D ANA

C - Malkin, Mueller, Morrison, Gerbe
LW - Vanek, Gagne, Kunitz, Samsonov, Eriksson
RW - Selanne, Stafford, Hudler, Setoguchi
D - Pitkanen, Murray, O'Brien, Montador
G - Miller, Legace, Labarbera
One thing to stress about this league is the scarcity and importance of goaltenders. Each year some team realizes too late that goaltending decides a lot of standings points in this league, and with "saves" as a category, the need for starters is pretty critical (though it's only a 2 GP minimum). If you do the math, 18 teams means there's not enough starters in the league so that each team can get two. While my trio of Miller, Legace, and Labarbera may not seem overwhelming, the fact that it may represent three starters could prove huge for the Battlebots.

In terms of forwards, Mirtle's league has enough F and Util spots that it's not too important to worry about specific Yahoo! positions -- as long as there is some balance among the positions it's not too hard to get nearly everyone's GP in. Still, I tried to keep a focus of getting many of my scorers from the east, even though it's a conference I don't follow very well. I just went on the basic tenet that goals are easier to score in the east, and hoped for the best. I got a few light remarks on my picks of Simon Gagne and Drew Stafford, and probably I deserve them, but overall I was happy that none of my picks were openly mocked.

I went awfully light on defensemen, as I tend to do in this league (my first year I only drafted three defensemen). I think at the rate that players disappear off this draft board, it's better to focus picks on goaltending and scoring forwards, but we'll see. I can say that I wasn't the only person to wait until the 13th round to select a defenseman. I should point out that a lot of this advice pertains specifically to this league: in general I still value goaltending very highly but I'm more liberal picking defensemen. And generally in Yahoo! leagues I do pay more attention to LW/RW/C distinctions.

I will just add a general note that it's very cool to do a Yahoo! draft with Puck Daddy, and not only for his mid-draft banter. It's actually quite hilarious to have a Yahoo! employee, who has nothing to do with the fantasy technology at all, to yell at when things go wrong. Also, you can give him stupid orders. "Puck Daddy, tell the boys upstairs to give Peter Mueller LW eligibility, pronto!"

Anyways, I'm always a sucker for the BoC. I ended up with 4 Ducks, 2 Sharks, a King, a Star, and a Coyote. That brings my 3-year Mirtle draft total to 12 Ducks, 10 Sharks, 10 Kings, 2 Stars, and 2 Coyotes. I don't claim to be any master draft schemer (O'Brien's here for that), but it has landed me a 4th and an 8th finish out of a mean 20 the last two years. Oh yeah, that reminds me, here's PJ's team:
Rd - Pick - Player
1 - 2 - Evgeni Nabokov, G SJS
2 - 34 - Brian Rafalski, D DET
3 - 38 - Ilya Bryzgalov, G PHX
4 - 71 - Dan Boyle, D SJS
5 - 74 - Patrick Marleau, C SJS
6 - 107 - Ryane Clowe, LW SJS
7 - 110 - Dustin Brown, RW LAK
8 - 143 - Marco Sturm, LW BOS
9 - 147 - Jochen Hecht, C BUF
10 - 179 - Radim Vrbata, RW TBL
11 - 182 - Tomas Holmstrom, RW DET
12 - 215 - Tobias Enstrom, D ATL
13 - 218 - Nikolai Khabibulin, G CHI
14 - 251 - Matt Cullen, C CAR
15 - 254 - Christian Ehrhoff, D SJS
16 - 287 - Jonas Hiller, G ANA
17 - 290 - Niklas Hagman, LW TOR
18 - 323 - James Wisniewski, D CHI
19 - 327 - Brooks Laich, C WSH
20 - 359 - Steve Sullivan, RW NSH

C - Marleau, Hecht, Cullen, Laich
LW - Clowe, Sturm, Hagman
RW - Brown, Vrbata, Holmstrom, Sullivan
D - Rafalski, Boyle, Enstrom, Ehrhoff, Wisniewski
G - Nabokov, Bryzgalov, Khabibulin, Hiller
Now there's some BoC pride (whoa, and some pride for crazy Russian goalies, too!). Way to go, PJ.

Bernier, Zatkoff Sent Down to Manchester

Jonathan Bernier and Jeff Zatkoff have both been sent down to Manchester, leaving Erik Ersberg, Jason Labarbera, and I think Jonathan Quick to battle it out for the two goaltender spots for LA. Neither Labarbera nor Ersberg have been exactly lighting it up so far, but I imagine they'll be up there since they have the pedigree.

I imagine Zatkoff will be sent down to Ontario to serve as emergency backup and to get a bunch of starts. Quick and Bernier will probably share duties in Manchester and Daniel Taylor will probably serve time in Reading. Huh, the Kings have enough quality goaltenders to fill their minor league spots. Weird.

Also sent down today: Trevor Lewis and Brady Murray. I have this grand dream of a Cliche-Lewis-Simmonds line in the NHL someday, so hopefully when Cliche comes back from his shoulder injury that line can get together. Bud Holloway can fill in until then.

It's Not the Fall That'll Kill You, It's the Landing

The Kings reportedly offered a contract to Sandis Ozolinsh and he turned them down. If that's not bottom I don't know what is. That's it, right? Is Marek Malik going to come to my house and kick me in the nuts while screaming, "Anze Kopitar is inferior to Jonathan Toews?" I'm not sure I can take any more indignities. You may have noticed that I haven't actually written a whole lot about the Kings since training camp started, but what can I say? They still haven't signed a veteran defenseman, they're still below the salary floor, and Patrick O'Sullivan is still out of camp. The Kings had to kill a 5-on-3 this weekend and used Drew Doughty and Thomas Hickey to kill it. The scary part? They were the best options available because Greene and Johnson had just been out there. The Kings' defense is Bill Paxton in Aliens bad and there's not a person out there that's going to fix it. Bret Hedican or Adrian Aucoin or Andreas Lilja isn't going to prevent this team from sucking.

I'm coming around to the idea that the Kings are going to be very, very bad this season. Could someone hit me with their car and put me in a coma for a year so I can avoid this season? I'm not kidding.

Update: Whatever.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Selanne Signs 2-Year, $5.25 Million Dollar Deal

Stupid sexy Selanne.

Teemu Selanne is back
. The Finnish Fucker signed a deal that works out to $2.625 million dollars a year, or $.1 million dollars less than Kyle Calder. Mother fucker. I assume this means either Todd Marchant or Francois Beauchemin is out now, although who knows what kind of crazy schemes Brian Burke has planned. I think they should trade Sammy Pahlsson. Earl will probably have more analysis, this is just so you guys can go, "Wow, Teemu Selanne is awesome.*"

Did Selanne want a 2-year deal because he wants to play in the Olympics again? Sure, why not.

*If you had to bet in 2000 on either Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya or Rob Blake abandoning their team and becoming hated by that fanbase, wouldn't you have picked Selanne? It's weird how he's now the greatest Duck in their short history. Also, that question I just asked was gramatically fucked.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kings Preseason Gameday: Fury Can't Freeze

LA Kings vs Colorado Avalanche (in Vegas)

7:00 PST

The Kings are participating in Frozen Fury against the Colorado Avalanche in Las Vegas, NV tonight. Connie is at the game and said she'd have some stuff up for it, so that's something to look for. Also, rumor has it that Dustin Brown has been named the Kings' new captain. Yea?

The Kings still need another defenseman to keep them from getting embarrassed and to get them above the cap by the start of the season. With Schneider now out of the picture, does anybody know some options besides Kyle McLaren, who sucks and is terrible and who sucks?

Update: Here's a clip of Monarchs tough Kevin Westgarth fighting Scott Parker. You should mute the clip before you watch it because there's a lot of retarded yelling.

The fact that Parker gets knocked down by Westgarth and then congratulates him is terrifying to me; although, to be fair, if I saw Scott Parker making a sandwich I'd probably shit myself. I'm a nervous guy.

There were a bunch of fights last night: Westgarth got in 2, Boyle got in one (I guess Adam Foote jumped in while Boyle was fighting Darcy Tucker and got ejected), and Wayne Simmonds got in one and was then ejected for taping his hands. He should have worn foil.

Crisis Averted! Thoughts on the Schneidermayer Trade

At long last, Mathieu Schneider has been traded. A mere fifteen months since he signed on with the Ducks, he was shipped off to Atlanta yesterday afternoon in exchange for Ken Klee and a few bodies.

To be fair, it's been an eventful fifteen months for the Ducks, thanks to a steady pattern of un-retirement from Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne. Anyways, here's some things I feel should be pointed out about the trade.

1. It's important to understand: Mathieu Schneider was not a failure for the Ducks, and I'm not convinced he's overpaid. I think he'll have a good year in Atlanta. With the recent waiving of Schneider and the fact that 29 teams refused to pick him up for free, I think there's been a lot of misconception that "Schneider has lost it" or that "he's grossly overpaid". Those statements could certainly be applied earlier in the summer to Todd Bertuzzi, but I think in Schneider's case they're off-base.

When Scott returned to the Ducks lineup in December, Coach Carlyle resumed his pattern of splitting all the important even-strength minutes to his two main pairings: Niedermayer-Beauchemin and Pronger-O'Donnell. Schneider was left to play easy Dipenta-minutes with Kent Huskins, plus was given some top power play time. Pretty ripe minutes for an offensive talent like Schneider, and there's not much bad to say about his overall results. At even-strength in the regular season, Schneider was on the ice for 50 GF, 23 GA, a better than 2-to-1 ratio. On the power play, he was on the ice for 34 GF, 5 GA. Schneider outscored his opposition like crazy, even if it was done in fairly easy ice time. If he can get those sort of sweet minutes on Atlanta, I don't really see why he can't get similarly good results this year.

Schneider's waiving and trading was a function of salary cap math, not his play on the ice. With $13M at Niedermayer and Pronger, $7.3M at Giguere and Hiller, $10+M at Getzlaf and Perry, the Ducks couldn't afford the luxury of having Schneider play easy bottom-pairing minutes (not when a half-million dollar guy could do it a la Dipenta). Sure, Schneider did have a miserable 6-game playoffs, but that's true of a lot of Ducks, and I'd consider his regular season more indicative of his ability.

One other area Schneider could have improved last year was in the actual function of replacing Niedermayer -- Schneider ended up missing nearly half the games that Niedermayer sat out because of an ankle injury. Still, if you want to see some measure of Schneider's impact, the 15 pre-Niedermayer games he missed the Ducks had a 9.9% power play effectiveness, and the 19 pre-Niedermayer games that Schneider played in the power play jumped to 21.6%.

Is Schneider overpaid? I guess that depends on how he's used and who he's compared against. If I had a choice of landing 1 year of Schneider at $5.6M, 8 years of Brian Campbell at $7.1M, or 6 years of Wade Redden at $6.5 M, I'd probably take the first option. He may not be as capable or as sturdy, but it's a one-year gamble for lesser money, and he comes with a better shot (at least he scored more goals than the other two). Basically, if the Ducks had the money, I'd be all over keeping Schneider next year.

2. That said, I understand some of the reasons GMs passed on Schneider on waivers a week ago.

By not allowing Brian Burke an easy out to his over-the-salary-cap conundrum, GMs could not only stick it to Burke but force him to sweeten the Schneider deal with additional assets. GMs were playing coy; the ones at the front of the waiver list (generally the teams with cap room) imagined that they could wait for Schneider's re-entry waivers and nab the defender for half his salary. There was also talk of forcing Burke to throw in Bobby Ryan or a valued draft pick to make the deal even sweeter.

Basically, Burke was in a shitty position and everyone knew it. He had to unload Schneider before the North American season started, and so long as rival GMs could avoid accommodating that, the price for Schneider would be forcibly lowered. Somebody was going to get the privelege of fleecing Brian Burke in a trade, and by ignoring Schneider on waivers, GMs could improve the chances that they would be the ones to get that opportunity.

The main problem that rival GMs had, though, was that they had to snub Burke's trade requests collectively in order to drive Schneider's price down, but in the end only one of the clubs was actually going to reap the benefit of this collective action. It became a bit of a game theory exercise, where clubs had to weigh the benefits of forcing Burke's hand with the likelihood that they could individually collect on that pressure. For his part, Burke played his hand brilliantly, never crying poor or crying foul, but using that "don't let me give Schneider to somebody else" angle to get decent value back for the cap-necessitated move.

3. Trade assessment: thumbs way up, but there's probably a Part 2 coming. I have to admit, the Schneider outcome scared me a good deal these past few weeks, as the number of trade suitors dwindled down to a handful while the need to move Schneider's salary increased. It was tough to guess what Burke might need to do in order to move the salary, and talks of dropping Bobby Ryan or future assets to solve a short-term problem wasn't a comforting notion at all.

The fact that Burke managed to move Schneider without mortgaging the future means that by my eye, this trade is a whopping success. The Ducks did pick up some $1.8M in salary with Ken Klee and Brad Larsen, but neither is signed beyond this year so it's not even a long-term repercussion.

While this move does put the Ducks under the salary cap ceiling, there is still likely another salary-shedding move yet to come in order to fit in the Finnish Flash. Teemu Selanne remains unsigned, and he's even talking about the possibility of wanting a two-year deal from the Ducks. While normally I'd advise against such a contract for a player over 35, especially in the wake of the issues of Schneider's similar situation, in this case I'm probably for gambling on Teemu. Really the main motivator for me is cheapness -- by salary cap law Selanne will have to sign a bargain contract in order to fit on this year's roster, maybe less than a million, and if he's willing to extend that minimal salary another year, why that's hardly a gamble at all. If the Ducks move enough salary, however, that Teemu gets signed for something like $2M, at that point I'm more in favor of doing 1-year deals for Teemu.

At any rate, I don't really know what this next move will be. There seems enough movable bodies among the forwards and defensemen now that there's lots of possibilities. Still, it's important to note that the Schneider trade has brought the Ducks out of crisis mode, and for that I'm excited. It's rare that a salary dump like this one can be so well-received in both participating cities, but in this case I think it's warranted. The Thrashers have landed themselves a legitimate scoring threat on the blueline, and the Ducks have gained cap compliance without selling out the future. Great work, Brian Burke. If you ever decide not to move to Toronto, I'll support extending your tenure.

Go Ducks.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Schneider to Atlanta

The Atlanta Thrashers have acquired defenseman Mathieu Schneider from the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Ken Klee, forward Brad Larsen and a minor-league prospect. LINK.

Per NHLNumbers, Ken Klee will make $1.25 million this coming year, and Brad Larsen will make $560k (cap hit $535k). Klee will be a UFA next summer; Larsen will be an RFA.

More details from the OC Register's Dan Wood. Discuss, and I'll write something later.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Does Patrick O'Sullivan Have Any Leverage?

I know, I know, I promised I wouldn't talk about this, but David Blaine promised he would fall to his death and look what happened with that.

Can someone explain to me what Patrick O'Sullivan is doing? I admit that I'm kind of dumb (I listen to Andrew WK), but I don't really see where he has any sort of leverage in this contract holdout, stayaway, whatever you want to call it. To me, there are three ways a restricted free agent can affect his negotiations: arbitration, offer sheet, and missing time. O'Sullivan isn't eligible for arbitration, no one bit on an offer sheet, and the Kings are already missing the playoffs this season so it doesn't matter if he's there or not. There's no incentive for the Kings to give in at all.

Where does that leave O'Sullivan? Lombardi won't give a one-year deal because he doesn't care about this year. The LA Times is reporting Lombardi won't give into anything shorter than a three-year deal, by which time guys like Oscar Moller and Ted Purcell or firmly entrenched on the NHL roster and can replace O'Sullivan if necessary. I think O'Sullivan's agent was hoping to force the Kings into a Jeff Carter-type deal, but the reality is he won't get anything more than a Andrei Kotsitsyn deal. He can either take it or hold out all year. That's basically it.


Colten Teubert was returned to his Junior team yesterday, a move that was expected by some... okay, me. I expected it. Teubert's game is reliant upon strength and there was just no way he could hang with grown men at this point in time. He'll head to Junior and hopefully improve his defensive positioning and offensive game. I'd say we have 2 years until we see Teubert in the NHL.

Why not "Let's Make a Deal"?

Mark down Nov 5th Kings fans, as your beloved will be on an episode of "The Price is Right." Luc Robitaille, Derek Armstrong, Denis Gauthier, Kyle Calder, Dustin Brown and their mascot Bailey will make an appearance with host Drew Carey. (Boy I miss Bob Barker and his pencil thin, long microphone, not to mention all the sex stories about him and Barker's Beauties...but I digress). It will be funny to see Calder playing Plinko or Brown guessing how much a blender costs. They need to have the Sharks, Ducks and Kings on an episode of Family Feud to settle the BOC for real.

For those keeping score, Rob Blake is wearing #5 for the Sharks. That is until Kyle McLaren gets shipped out and Blake can have his number back. I am sure several season ticket holders were surprised to see a guy with McLaren on the back skating around the practice on Tuesday. Don't be alarmed, it was only Frazar McLaren, a rookie goon trying to make the team.

Quick Impressions from the Preseason Opener

I don't have time to do a full write-up on yesterday's preseason opener between the Sharks and Ducks, but I did want to report on a few interesting items. It was a pretty fun preseason game, actually, between all the fights and goals. I didn't end up taking any pictures (that's PJ's specialty, not mine), but that doesn't mean that I wasn't there!

Look, there's half of me, grinning stupidly about two seconds before Evans got floored.

More photo evidence of the green shirt sent by reader Scott.

Here's the main three takeaways I wanted to point out about yesterday's game, though.

a) What the hell, Anaheim? There was a bigger crowd in attendance last night than I've ever seen for a Ducks preseason game, to the point where I was getting pissed off about it. I mean, I understand that full houses are good for the team's revenue, but preseason has always represented a chance for me to come to a half-empty arena and enjoy easy parking, short lines, and crummy preseason hockey. Yesterday all I got was crummy preseason hockey. I don't really know why so many people showed up (and it certainly wasn't a full house), but it definitely caught me off-guard.

b) Question for Sharks fans: Who is this midget named Vesce? During last night's game, I was trying to learn about Ducks prospects, and pointed out to my friend how Ryan Dingle reminded me a lot of Andy McDonald -- small, quick, and clever with the puck. My friend replies, "That's the smallest skater I've ever seen!" I say, "Aw, he's not that little," but then realize that my friend isn't talking about Dingle at all. No, in fact there's an even littler dude skating around for the Sharks, Ryan Vesce. He didn't end up getting very much ice time, but we spent a good deal of time devising offensive plays for the Sharks that went something like this: "OK, Alex Semenov skates into the offensive zone and calls for a pass. Then out of nowhere Ryan Vesce jumps out of Semenov's breast pocket, steals the puck, and scores!"

c) The fight highlight of the night: Clowe gets "Bravehearted". The first two periods were littered with fights, mostly from players trying to earn jobs in the future, but even legitimate NHLers decided to get into it. For some reason, Kent Huskins, a guy I've always considered soft and laid back, decided he was sick of my opinion and decided to trade blows with Ryane Clowe. I was kind of shocked, because Clowe does have NHL fight experience, and pretty much I hoped that Huskins wouldn't get too badly hurt.

However, not only did Huskins hold his own in the fairly lengthy fight, but he even managed to cut Clowe pretty good above his left eye (you can see some if it in the picture to the right), and by the time the fight was over, half of Clowe's face was covered in blood. Now in full honesty the fight was pretty much even, but based on the blood spilled, the Anaheim crowd gave Huskins the biggest ovation of the night.

Clowe did return to the game after getting cleaned up, but the emotional damage was done. We even ended up coining a term for it, too. Clowe, you got "Bravehearted", dude. By Huskins, no less. Who would have thought?

Go Ducks.

[Update] Earl Sleek made me famous - Battle of California. I think Northern California wins the battle of the blurry fight background cameo appearances. Hand on chin = smart.

Alex Frolov Injures Groin, Sun Rises in East

Apparently Alex Frolov is out with another groin injury. Can we get this guy a masseuse? Hell, I'll volunteer. Sure it's weird, but I'll sacrifice my happiness if it can help the Kings.* Richard Clune also got hurt, but nobody gives a fuck about him.

*"What? No, it's not because I'm rubbing your thighs, it's just that I'm wearing these cords with no underwear! It tickles!"

The Kings beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 last night in a shooutout thanks to Ted Purcell. Matt Moulson skated with Kopitar and Brown while Jarret Stoll pickpocketed a Colorado defender and scored an unassisted goal. Jack Johnson played 29 minutes. These are all things I like to see.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

BoC Gameday—Re-establishing that gameday groove

San Jose Sharks at Anaheim Ducks, preseason
(My first opportunity to see Todd McLellan cry.)

That's right, kiddos. There's actual hockey being played tonight. Well, not actual hockey, but they are charging actual prices, and I'm hoping I drink enough where won't notice the difference. I normally don't write gameday posts for preseason games (this will be the only time this year), but today I'll make the exception. because tonight Sleek's in the house.

It'll be my usual spot, Section 223, Row B, adjacent to the Ducks' penalty box, wearing the lucky green shirt. Feel free to stop by, if you're daring enough... to attend a preseason game. I should warn you (gasp), I might not make it in time for the puck drop. I'm meeting up with three friends before the game, 67% of which have to sneak out of work. Still, we shouldn't be too late, and I'd imagine we'll be in good "doesn't matter / it's the preseason" spirits.

I guess I should give my annual Row B disclaimer: I am a guy who's been damn spoiled, but I'm not anyone who is particularly rich or particularly well-connected. These are certainly not my season seats, as I have neither the dollars nor the influence to arrange that. It is by sheer luck that I am able to "buy in" on a ticketholder's seats (1 preseason + 3 regular season + ? playoffs), thanks to a former boss of mine. These games represent most of my actual attendance, and pretty much all the dollars I spend on the Ducks.

Anyways, if you can't attend, you can listen for me on the internet radio broadcast (regular radio's too good for preseason openers); I'll be the one who sounds like he's wearing a green shirt yelling semi-coherently at the nearest ref about a Pahlsson contract extension. I don't know who's in either team's lineup tonight, but that hardly matters. Thanks to NHL 09's Be a Pro Mode starting me out on the Iowa Chops, I feel that I'm now a qualified judge of minor league talent (and by my digital eye the keepers on that team are Festerling and Ebbett).

Prediction: Ducks 4, Sharks 2. And it won't matter one bit. Goals by Getzlaf (if he plays), Festerling (if he plays like he did in NHL 09), Pahlsson (if he plays), and Boguniecki (whether he plays or not).

Slowly but surely, BoC is shifting into season mode. Go Ducks.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Teal & White Game Observations

Are you looking for deep technical analysis from today's Teal & White spectacular at HP Pavilion? Um...well, I can't really deliver that. I can, however, offer up a few observations that may or may not prove to be insightful. (I only stayed for the first half and I spent most of the time chatting rather than paying close attention. So perhaps the second half was more exciting than the first.)

-As usual, the Teal & White scrimmage wasn't exactly thrilling. The lines hadn't changed much from previous scrimmages except Torrey Mitchell's line now featured Tomas Plihal.

-Dan Rusanowsky announced the lineup for team teal. Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell him that Jeremy Roenick wasn't in the building. Since the squads were lined up in numerical order, he could have simply looked up and realized that JR wasn't there. Instead, the jumbotron panned over to Ryane Clowe and Rusanowsky babbled on about how great JR was in the Calgary series. Clowe seemed to have a good laugh about it.

-Dan Boyle offered up a good look at his hockey instincts and skating abilities. He tried to lead the rush a few times and was able to maneuver through pairs of opposing players, even in the offensive zone.

-The active defense was extremely noticable. During power plays, the squads would shift into an umbrella formation with one defenseman down low. Also, defensemen joined the rush quite often, especially Christian Ehrhoff.

-I'm not sure if it means anything but there seemed to be an extra amount of players attempting one-timers. This is a good sign, as last year's squad played Hot Potato more often than actually firing the puck off. Ehrhoff in particular seemed eager to shoot; however, rather than his fast-and-inaccurate slap shot, Ehrhoff seemed to favor a quick snap shot.

-It's hard to judge the line of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Ryane Clowe right now. They had their moments and Marleau tried to use his speed from time to time, but they didn't necessarily wow me. However, the combination of Joe Pavelski and Milan Michalek looked sharp, though Jonathan Cheechoo looked a little lost out there.

-Jeff Friesen had one of the loudest ovations during the player introductions, and he looked genuinely appreciative of the warm welcome. Besides the nostalgia factor, Friesen looked good out there. He won't be scoring 30 goals (or even 20) but I think he can earn a slot as an effective and speedy defensive forward.

-Prospect Logan Couture probably won't be around this season but for his part, he performed well enough on the penalty kill to show that he won't be a defensive slacker like some high-drafted forwards.

Did You Know Raitis Ivanans is a Bad Man?

I think Ivanans stopped punching him because his hand was hurting.

The Chances of Oscar Moller and Wayne Simmonds

One interesting aspect of this whole Patrick O'Sullivan holdout thing is that it opens up one more spot on the roster for a little while. If O'Sullivan were to wait another couple weeks to sign, he'd probably miss the first few games while he got in game shape. In the meantime, prospects Oscar Moller and Wayne Simmonds have impressed in training camp, leading some to wonder if they can earn a spot. In reality, it was extremely unlikely they were going to beat out someone like Ted Purcell or Kyle Calder, but with O'Sullivan gone they may have a chance to stay up and get in a few games.

You need to clear that puck or we'll all gonna die!

Oscar Moller is the more skilled of the two and has more hockey sense; though small, Moller is pretty tenacious and works well in the corners. Also, he looks like Captain America from Generation Kill. Last night Moller scored a goal and 2 assists in only 12 minutes of action. The problem with Moller is that he's a little small and probably couldn't hang for a full NHL season quite yet, but the Kings may decide to keep him up for the 10-game limit before sending him back to Chilliwack of the WHL.

Feel the rhythm/feel the rhyme/get on up/it's ass-kicking time!

Wayne Simmonds, on the other hand, is what my roommate in college would call a CAB (Cool Ass Brother).* Simmonds probably doesn't have the hockey sense to hang in the NHL, but he does not quit and would definitely make an impact for the Kings. Plus, the crowd would fall in love with him in about .4 seconds because he's cool and I'm already in love with him because he looks like the main guy from Cool Runnings. (In my head he's starring in a real life sequel.) He had a goal, a fight, and a game misconduct last night in Kansas City. Simmonds will be headed to Manchester this season to work on his defense and to get bigger, but he could end up staying if the Kings replace O'Sullivan's minutes with a current roster player. I have to admit, I really want to give Simmonds a shot because I think he has earned it.

*I'd stumble over my words and then whisper that he's African-Canadian.

What's that old saying, when someone closes a door they open a window? That doesn't make sense, because why would you close a door and then immediately open a window and what if you have a cat, but it works for the Kings' purposes. The Kings seem to have gotten lucky with Moller and Simmonds and they could use O'Sullivan's holdout as an opportunity to reward them for their hard work.

Also, Jarret Stoll had 3 hooking penalties last night. Uh oh.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Anaheim's All-Time Team: Protect the Superstars

To help save the planet, I am re-using an image from Christmas 2006.

I know I've lost some momentum on this Anaheim Sometimes-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim project, but I'm down to my last spot to fill. I've got the rest of the roster penciled together for an unveiling next week, though it's still not too late to convince me on your votes in for:
  • #1 Center: Rucchin, Oates, Fedorov, McDonald, or Getzlaf.

  • #5 and #6 Defensemen: Two of Dollas, Karpa, Mironov, Salei, Havelid, Vishnevski, Carney, Ozolinsh, Beauchemin, O'Donnell, or Schneider.

  • Backup Goaltender: Hebert, Shtalenkov, Gerber, Bryzgalov, or Hiller.
Today we fill my last open spot: Enforcer.

Throughout its franchise history, Anaheim has relied on an element of pure muscle, for a few reasons: to compensate for its sissy team name, to draw more lackluster fans in SoCal, and for traditional on-ice reasons (protecting and generating space for superstars). I don't suppose that reserving a slot for an enforcer makes Anaheim's All-Time team necessarily better on paper, but I think it does do a service to all those punch-monkeys who have stood up for the Ducks over the years. Also, my all-time team (penciled-in version) is looking quite soft thus far; I can probably count the career fighting majors among my forwards on one hand.

In terms of the skillset I'm looking for, it's pretty simple: Popularity, Fighting Ability, and Regular Shifts (in that order of importance). I've put together a list of twelve candidates which is by no means exhaustive (feel free to write in anyone I've missed), sorted by penalty minutes per game. I won't profile these guys (frankly, I don't remember them all), but this list should help jog Ducks fans' memories.



Garrett Burnett





Todd Ewen

1993-94 to 1995-96




Kevin Sawyer

2000-01 to 2002-03




Brent Severyn





Warren Rychel

1996-97 to 1997-98




Ken Baumgartner

1995-96 to 1996-97




George Parros

2006-07 to current




Stu Grimson

1993-94 to 1994-95,
1998-99 to 1999-00




Todd Fedoruk

2005-06 to 2006-07




Denny Lambert

1994-95 to 1995-96,




Jim Cummins

2000-01 to 2001-02




Shawn Thornton





Questions to consider: Who on this list was most likely to get fans on their feet? Who on this list would be scariest to fight against? Who on this list showed the best hockey sense aside from fighting? And then the real question: All that considered, who deserves the Enforcer spot on the Anaheim Sometimes-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim? Whether you're a Ducks fan or not, I'll take your votes and justifications in the comments.

Go Ducks.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

An Opportunity for Friesen?

Rudy beat me to the punch, but yes, Torrey Mitchell is out for two months. That's pegging his return in late November. This will muck things up a little bit but this gives an opportunity for Jeff Friesen to grab a roster spot.

I'm guessing this won't affect Todd McLellan's top two lines, but the current would-be third line of Mitchell with Marcel Goc and Mike Grier on the wings is obviously mucked up. Goc, however, is a natural center and shifting him over would make sense for the time being. Who takes the spot on the wing?

Well, of course Tomas Plihal could work in there, or they could experiment with Devin Setoguchi for a little more offensive punch. (Setoguchi remains a wild card as the lineup shakes out) However, if we're looking at this to be a defensive unit based on speed with some scoring ability, that's what the old Friesen used to specialize in. He obviously didn't really do that in his stints in Washington and Calgary, but let's just assume things go well for Freeze (he's looked pretty good in camp so far) and they've gotta slot him in somewhere.

It makes sense, though it'll obviously create a logjam of forwards when Mitchell returns. Still, it's better to have too much depth than not enough.

Besides, wouldn't it be cool to see good ol' Freeze in teal?


My newly minted favorite non-King, Torrey Mitchell, looks to be out for 8 weeks after breaking his leg during practice. At about the same time my favorite prospect, Marc-Andre Cliche, hurt himself after awkwardly falling in the aftermath of a Denis Gauthier check. I feel like Wyatt Earp after Virgil and Morgan were shot.

In other news, the Kings released their split-squad rosters for the game tomorrow in LA and Kansas City. LA gets Brown, Kopitar, Johnson, Frolov, Jason Labarbera, and Brian Boyle, while Kansas City gets... Wayne Simmonds and Drew Doughty. Hahahahahahahahaha.

Also, Matt Greene has been partnered with Jack Johnson for most of training camp so far. That's a pretty good defensive unit, but it makes our 2nd pairing Tom Preissing and... Alec Martinez? We need another defenseman.

Random Pacific Questions: Who's Your Langdon Alger?

I love my team. I've been following the Kings since before I could tie my shoes (I've got it down to where I get one loop; where do people get the other one?) and I've hated the Ducks and Sharks since snap bracelets were cool. Still, I admit that I sometimes look longingly over at the other side and have dark dreams about one of their players. It's never someone like Joe Thornton for me (although I would go to the south of Spain with him if he asked me); I always enjoy the quiet boy in the corner that enjoys puzzles. I love the Langdon Algers of the world. This season, my Langdon Alger is Torrey Mitchell.

Let's go to Paris.

I'll be honest, I don't really know why. I mean, he's a good young center, but he's not the kind of person that should make my pants tight. I think (from my limited viewing) that Mitchell is a pretty good defensive center and he and Mike Grier did a good job shutting down opposing scorers last season. Mitchell can't really score or anything like that, but I'd say he's one of the Sharks most important players. Plus, he's only 23. (What's with the Sharks having great young defensive players?) I was silently hoping that the Kings would sign him to a $3 million dollar offer sheet this off-season, but Lombardi was content to give that money to Jarret Stoll. If the Sharks put Mitchell with Grier and someone like Ryan Clowe, I just may have a wet dream. It's crazy, but I dare say that Mitchell may eventually become the best defensive forward in the Pacific pretty soon. Like, this season. Suck it, Pahlsson.

I mean, watch this:

How can you not love this guy?

So who do you guys have an irrational love for? Can't be someone on your own team, but it can be someone that was on your team but has since moved on.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chris Pronger has a BLOG?!

Blogging? That's easy. Keeping the elbows down? Not so much.

I feel almost guilty bringing this up, as certainly I'm doing more harm than good, but I suppose that's in my nature (my NHL 09 Iowa Chops coach says I'm a lousy team player). Finny, the Girl With the Puck, gave a nice recap of Saturday's training camp activities for the Ducks, but nearly lost in all that Teemu-love was the casual dropping of the fact that our own Captain Elbows has taken to the keyboard on his own site, chrispronger.com.

I've added the link to Pronger's personal blog in the sidebar, and frankly it's not all bad material. Take for example his post talking about the NHL draft:
As we have seen over the years the teams that have the staying power in the top tier of the league are those that draft well and are continually restocking and shaping there teams with an eye on winning in the short term but never losing sight of the long term and how and where they are going to find there future stars.
It's a lengthy sentence, sure, but it's not a horrible post. I think it offers at least some sincere thoughts on Pronger's view of team-building, and his ideas are rational on a broad sense at least. Pronger has also written a bit on his training camp start, and it certainly offers a perspective I'll never have (you know, the perspective of a guy who pays attention to training camp).

Now before all you Pronger-bashers go pester the poor guy, I will point out two things that impressed me about the site. One, he does have decent-name guest bloggers: Andy Strickland, Dan Murphy, and Mike Brophy have contributed thus far. Even more impressive to me, though, is that Pronger put a page up endorsing Finny's Run for the Cure campaign. That's borderline classy, Pronger.

I think we're all impressed at your ability to type coherently, big guy. Good work, but I'll tell you this. You are one hated dude. There's fans of Detroit, Edmonton, San Jose, and Ottawa that are perfectly good typists too. I'd offer you some blogging tips, but unfortunately it's too late for you to use tip #1 (post under a fake name), so good luck, Pronger. And keep kicking ass on the ice.

Go Ducks.

Todd McClellan Hearts BoC

Todd McLellan must read the Battle of California. I'm convinced of it. I mean, why else would he hammer home the same damn points that we've been harping on for about a year?

Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News sat down with McLellan and his key points sounded like a wish list designed to meet BoC complaints:

McLellan wants that commitment to remain. But he also wants the Sharks to score 250 to 260 goals.

Oh, snap! Score more goals, be a better team. I like that formula! Ok, I never complained about things in that simple of terms, but I think we can all agree on this.

McLellan has the numbers to prove his point. In studying the statistical charts from 2007-08, one number popped out at him: shots taken by defensemen. Detroit, the best team in the league, had more than 800 shots from the blue line. Sharks defensemen took only 536 shots.

One of the most common gripes from us at BoC is that the old Ron Wilson power play involved a lot of hesitation. Point man gets the puck, he holds it...holds it...HOLDS IT (anyone get my Simpsons reference?) before faking a shot and passing it to Joe Thornton. The process repeats about four times before the point man finally shoots it into the shin guards of the opposing defenseman.

Quick and crisp. That's how you generate shots from the point.

That leads me to a quick tangent about Christian Ehrhoff. Ehrhoff's probably got the biggest shot of any Shark but he often either shoots high or just doesn't take the shot. I know last season was about Christian becoming a stronger defensive defenseman and that's all well and good. Still, I'm hoping under McLellan he can put it all together.

And I like Drew Remenda's recommendation of Ehrhoff taking shots at the net in practice until he hits the net 100 times.

"If the puck's not at the net, why go there?" McLellan asks by way of an answer. "If we get the back end that's prepared to put pucks through to the net, and we have people going there, we solve two problems. ... The question about whether Joe should be standing net-front or somewhere else ... I don't want Joe to be standing anywhere. I want motion. I want Joe to be moving. I want everyone moving. The unpredictability of where he might be would be a tough thing for teams to handle."

Yes, yes, yes. Oh, the hockey gods have answered BoC's requests. This is comes in two parts. First off, pre-Brian Campbell, the Sharks' power play was extremely static. It usually consisted of giving Thornton the puck on the half boards, then everyone standing still until bad stuff happened. That sucked. After Campbell came on board, his constant movement on the power play forced the entire team to react and rotate, thus freeing up space and passing lanes. And you know what? It freakin' worked, at least until the playoffs.

Second point -- the whole world has been asking Thornton to drive to the net more ever since he got here. I don't think Thornton's ever going to win the Rocket Richard trophy but he's got a better shot than people give him credit for. Also, when he drives the net, it forces the defense to shadow him rather than just block his passing lanes -- which, of course, opens up other passing lanes. Keep them guessing and they won't just take the obvious passing lane to Jonathan Cheechoo.

McLellan's previously talked about another major BoC complaint: the fact that the Ron Wilson Sharks never kept moving their feet. That's hockey 101 and I don't know if the guys didn't listen to Ron Wilson or if wilson just forgot to emphasize the point. Whatever the case, there were far too many times when the Sharks passed the center red line and went into coast mode. McLellan wants speed, speed, and speed -- through the neutral zone, breaking the blueline, and on the pursuit and forecheck.

Yes and yes, I say. I honestly have no clue whether or not McLellan reads BoC or not (though really, if you're researching the Sharks before taking a job, wouldn't this be the first place to visit? Just saying.) but what he's publicly preaching is exactly what's been prescribed here for a long, long time.

Which brings up another question. Does that mean that our wacky family of Sharks bloggers here is smart enough to coach an NHL team?


Friday, September 19, 2008

Wow. One of the legends hangs them up

I didn't see this coming at all, but the infamous Jes Gőlbez, founder and propietor of Hockey Rants (plus a better contributor to Fanhouse than I am), has decided to hang up the ol' blogger skates and become an everyday fan again.

I don't even know what to say, other than definitely Hockey Rants was one of the inspirations for this blog, that Jes was one of the real pioneers in hockey blogging, and despite his modesty, we're a worse off blogosphere without him.

Good luck in whatever you do in the future, Jes. Don't be afraid to drop in sometime in the comments here, and no matter what happens, we'll always have the memories.

Kings Training Camp Primer

The Kings are in a state of flux right now. They have a great deal of young talent ready for the NHL right now but they still have a lot of the bridge guys Lombardi signed the last few years on NHL deals. What does this mean? It means the Kings are going to have a pretty interesting training camp. To help educate the ten of you that are actually reading this, I thought I'd go line-by-line and highlight the most interesting training camp battles. Look for news about these guys to see how the team is going to look on opening night. Here is a look at the roster and what spots we can reasonably assume are locked up:

Frolov-Stoll-( )
( )-Handzus-( )
Ivanans-( )-( )

As you can see, there's a lot of room for movement on the roster. Let's get started, shall we?

2nd Line RW

Competitors: Ted Purcell, Brad Richardson, Brian Boyle

The Kings' top line is pretty much set: it's Kopitar, Brown and the other guy. The part of the other guy was assumed by Patrick O'Sullivan last year and we can reasonably assume he'll continue in that role once he, you know, signs.* Frolov will keep doing what he does and I imagine Stoll will be given opportunity in the 2nd center role after signing such a big deal in the off-season. That leaves the 2nd line right wing position as the sole top-six spot up for grabs. The three main competitors are all good young players that each bring something different.

*I'm confident he'll sign and it won't affect the Kings at all. What's that? I happen to like the feeling on my skin when I stick my head in the sand, thank you very much.

Ted Purcell is probably the most talented of the three and is an excellent playmaking option. His negatives are that he's not overly physical and the line already has two playmakers in Frolov and Stoll. Plus, him on the line would put three right-handers on one line; that's not necessarily a dealbreaker, but it is a little unusual in the NHL. Brad Richardson is probably the fastest and has the best shot of the three, but he's also the smallest and couldn't do a lot of the dirty work this line will need. Boyle could do that dirty work because he's a large man, but he's also kind of slow. Plus, I don't think the Kings want to derail his progress as a center. I'd probably give Purcell the best chance to win the job, although I wouldn't put it past Terry Murray to put O'Sullivan on that line and put someone like Matt Moulson or Kyle Calder up with Kopitar.

3rd Line LW

Competitors: Matt Moulson, Kyle Calder

This spot was Kyle Calder's for most of last season with generally subpar results. The man named "Grease" (allegedly because he gets dirty or some weird shit) finished the season with 7 goals and 13 assists despite getting ample power play time. Clearly, he's going to have to earn his spot back. His main challenger for the spot is Matt Moulson, the 24 year-old defensive guru that provided a spark for Calder and Handzus when he was paired with them last season. Since Moulson is better defensively than Calder and Calder sucks offensively, I imagine Moulson will win the spot alongside Handzus and...

3rd Line RW

Competitors: Brad Richardson, Ted Purcell, Matt Ellis, Wayne Simmonds

Michal Handzus was tasked with shutting down the other team's top scorer last season yet he wasn't given any help. Handzus and Calder are not very fleet of foot and needed someone who could keep up with the opposition. Having Moulson on one side of Handzus would help, and having the loser of the 2nd Line RW battle would help even more. Brad Richardson is probably the best option for this spot; not only would he help at even strength, he would also provide another quality body on the penalty kill. Ted Purcell could win the spot if he doesn't win the 2nd line RW job but still shows enough to justify NHL playing time, while Matt Ellis is an option if none of the young guys actually step up. An intriguing option is Wayne Simmonds, the young fireplug from Sault Ste. Marie. He's young and needs to put on weight but he's been excellent in development camp and I can honestly see him making the team. Should be something to watch.

4th line C

Competitors: Brian Boyle, Derek Armstrong, Brady Murray

This spot has been up for grabs for a couple years now as injuries have prevented Derek Armstrong from taking the job that belonged to him. The job looks to belong to Brian Boyle this season, who can take a few minutes up on the 2nd line and also play on the power play as well. If for some reason Boyle disappoints (or if he takes a wing position up in the lineup) then Derek Armstrong can step in to the job he was born for. Brady Murray is running out of time with the Kings and will probably sign with someone else if he doesn't make a name for himself in the NHL this season.

4th line RW

Competitors: Kyle Calder, Derek Armstrong/Brian Boyle, Matt Ellis, John Zeiler, anyone really

The final spot can best be solved by thinking about who can be used in a special teams capacity. Calder is useful on the power play, although his spot in front of the net will probably be usurped by Boyle. Matt Ellis can make the penalty kill better, but it might full with Michal Handzus, Patrick O'Sullivan, Brad Richardson and Jarret Stoll already on the team. Or the Kings could just give the spot to anyone who performs the best in camp. It's pretty up in the air.

Here's the way I see the forwards winding up on opening night:

Calder, Zeiler

I see Calder and Zeiler making the team because Calder can be useful in spots and no one cares if John Zeiler never plays. I said when we picked him up that I thought Matt Ellis was on the team to captain the team in Manchester and I'm still pretty sure about that.


2nd RD Position

Competitors: Denis Gauthier, Peter Harrold, Free Agent

The defense is surprisingly rigid, at least to my eyes. Jack Johnson will take the top spot on the right side. Tom Preissing is the best right-handed defenseman so he'll probably play with Johnson. Greene also plays on the left side so he's set. That leaves his partner to get top-4 minutes. Denis Gauthier is the safe option, while Harrold is the defenseman that can earn the spot. Neither is very palatable, though, and the hope is that the Kings can pick someone up to take that spot. If only there were someone in the area that could come over and help out. Maybe Lombardi could call Brian Burke, see if he could help him out.

3rd LD Position

Competitors: Drew Doughty, Colten Teubert

The dirty little secret in Kings' training camp is that Drew Doughty has to make the team. They're acting like he's not guaranteed a spot and he has to earn it but they're just pretending. The Kings need Doughty for two reasons: one, they need his cap number, and two, they don't have anyone that can play on that left side. All the other options the Kings have are left-handed so it pretty much leaves Doughty or fellow teenager Colten Teubert. My money's on Doughty.

3rd RD Position

Competitors: Denis Gauthier, Peter Harrold, Thomas Hickey, Joe Piskula, Drew Bagnall

The final spot on defense is probably Harrold's, I'm not going to lie. There's other options, like Gauthier, but it's probably best to just give Harrold the spot because he can play on the power play and the penalty kill. Hickey could use one more year to get a little bigger and Piskula and Bagnall are available in case of injury.

Here's the way I see the defense on opening night:

Greene-(Free Agent)


( )

Other Goaltending Spot

Competitors: Erik Ersberg, Jonathan Bernier, Jonathan Quick

Labarbera is pretty much guaranteed a spot since he's so great. (Oh, and he has a one-way deal.) That leaves Ersberg and Bernier to battle it out for the other spot. Bernier is going to have to greatly outperform Ersberg to win a spot. He's basically going to have to win the starting job, a tall task for a 21 year-old. I think Ersberg will win the job while Bernier gets a healthy number of games against AHL competition. Quick isn't really a competitor, I just figured his parents might scan this and see his name added and feel better. I'm a giver.

Whew, I'm tired. I'm making a sandwich. You want one? You can't have one, you're virtual. Or you're not, but you're reading this virtually. Something like that, I don't understand the internet. Goodbye.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Patrick O'Sullivan Not Showing Up to Camp

Hey, Patrick O'Sullivan isn't reporting to the start of camp as the Kings and his agent try to come to terms on a contract. That's pretty much all you're going to hear from me on this whole thing. I know it's a big story and everything, but I just can't bring myself to actually write about it. For one, we have no idea who is demanding what. Is it a Mike Cammalleri "I'm worth $6 million dollars" thing or is it a Dean Lombardi "I'm a miserable cheap ass" thing or is it an AEG "We hate spending money" thing? I have no idea and I'd say it's probably inappropriate for me to speculate. Second, I just don't really give a fuck about contracts. I don't follow hockey because I enjoy watching assholes argue over money. All I'll say is that O'Sullivan's contract sets a precedent for others and I understand why Lombardi wouldn't want to give in to him, but I also understand why O'Sullivan wants a big deal now in this market. Bottom line, I'd much rather focus on the guys who are at training camp, not the one guy who's not.

Tomorrow I'll have a training camp round-up that will cover all the training camp battles you'll need to keep your eye on. If you want to talk about how stupid Dean Lombardi is or why this is all Patrick O'Sullivan's dad's fault, go to Letsgokings.com, where I'm sure you'll find well-reasoned and level-headed discussion that is in no way retarded. I'll be focusing on hockey.

Season Review: Matt Moulson & Peter Harrold

(Okay, I wrote this and then realized it wasn't really a review. Oh well.)


Matt Moulson- 22 GP, 5 G, 4 A, +2, 4 PIM
Peter Harrold- 25 GP, 2 G, 3 A, +3, 2 PIM


Matt Moulson- 57 GP, 28 G, 28 A, 29 PIM
Peter Harrold- 49 GP, 7 G, 36 A, 25 PIM

Matt Moulson and Peter Harrold are often overlooked in the Kings' prospect plans because both aren't really prospects. Both are about 25 (Moulson is 24 'til November) and neither projects to ever be a top-flight player. Right now, though, they're exactly the type of prospects the Kings need. Most of the Kings' great prospects are 21 or younger, so guys like Moulson and Harrold are needed until the Kings determine which of their younger prospects are going to pan out. Of course, there is a downside for them: they're only good until those younger prospects come up and then guys like them usually get tossed to the side. Both Moulson and Harrold have maybe one year to prove that they're valuable NHL players or else the Kings are going to cast them aside for a younger model.

Matt Moulson will never make a highlight reel unless he's on the receiving end of a hit, but he has a good nose for the net and has a nice shot. He's also a solid defensive player, something the Kings sorely need. I could definitely see new coach Terry Murray falling in love with a dependable player like Matt Moulson and giving him more minutes than someone like Ted Purcell. Ideally, Moulson would be playing on a line with Michal Handzus, because they had good chemistry last season and Moulson provides a speed element that Handzus lacks. I honestly wouldn't be surprised, though, if Moulson ends up finding a few minutes up alongside Anze Kopitar. He's a good player for a 1st line because he doesn't need the puck to be effective. I could see Moulson molding into a player similar to Chris Kunitz but without the physical element and the squishy face.

Peter Harrold is basically Matt Moulson but on defense. Though not big, Harrold is a pretty physical player that can score and defend pretty well. I think he hasn't found an NHL job before now because he doesn't fit any particular mold for what a defenseman should be. He's not quick and agile like Lubomir Visnovsky and he's not big and powerful like a Sean O'Donnell. He's just a dependable bottom-pairing defenseman. The Kings could really use guys like him right now.

Moulson and Harrold have a unique opportunity this season. They're getting a chance not many guys like them get; a full season in the NHL to prove that they're more than just filler. It will be interesting to see how they react. I have a gut feeling they'll step up to the challenge and prove themselves before the season is over.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Letters from Switzerland, Part II

Introductory Side Note: We all here at Battle of California would like to extend a hearty congratulations to our fellow contributor Mike Chen, who watched as his own blog exploded a few weeks ago, but then turned that into a mega-opportunity with Kukla's Korner Emporium. He's joining the heavyweights: Kukla, the Chief, and Alanah, plus new additions Bethany, Forechecker, Red and Black, SensHobo, Goal Line Report, and Puck Stops Here, and should provide a good California perspective on all things hockey. Don't forget us little guys, Mike! We'll always think of you every time the Sharks fire their head coach.

Actually, Chen makes for a nice segue for this post, because it was in the second installment of his All-Time Sharks Team where he said this (while discussing centerman Sergei Markarov):

Side note #2: Todd Elik, the second-leading scorer on that squad, put up a whopping 98 points in 53 games for an Austrian team in the 2006-2007 season at age 40, beating out much younger former NHLer Tavis Hanson.
Have you ever heard of Todd Elik? I'll have to admit; I hadn't heard of the guy, but then again I'm a guy who started following hockey in the latter half of the 90s. Elik is a former King and a former Shark (and heck, even a former North Star), so he certainly fits the BoC theme, and our good buddy Markus has sent us an Elik-themed installment of "Where are they now? (In Switzerland.)" If you recall from his earlier Josef Marha update, our pal Markus is an overseas Ducks fan who's brushing up on his English while we brush up on our understanding of former NHLers in Switzerland. It's a win-win. As before, I've gone through and fixed a few things here and there for readability, but my aim is to keep things as real as possible.

As I mentioned, I've never heard of Elik, so this might be mostly for you Shark fans. Still, based on Markus' account below, he certainly sounds like a guy I could heartily root for. Here's Markus:

Enjoy a few seasons in the country of
chocolate, watches, and the alps

Part 2: Todd Elik
And no, it’s not Sweden, folks!

He reminds me of a gangster in an old Hollywood movie. Big, scary, with a scar on his cheek. And after seeing him, nobody would be surprised if he actually were involved in organized crime.

But let’s go back a few years, as it was a hard and long road to Europe. Elik was never drafted, and his junior coach made it clear to his team how bleak their future really was. “When you’re done with the last year of junior hockey, two or three of you will make it to the NHL, half of you are gonna work at a gas station and the rest will live on welfare.”

Todd was one of the 3 lucky ones…he played in over 500 NHL games over 8 seasons with the Kings, Sharks, North Stars, Oilers, Blues and Bruins. His best season was 93-94, when Elik led the Sharks in assists and was the 2nd best scorer behind Sergei Makarov. But he lost a step in the following years, and as he spent more and more time in the AHL, he decided to leave his last team, the Bruins, and joined a team in the south of Switzerland, the
HC Lugano.

The decision between Boston and Lugano wasn’t that hard for Todd…

Nobody in Switzerland could have expected that this player would turn out to be one of the most special players the Swiss league has ever seen. One night Dr. Jekyll, one night Mr. Hyde. His stats his first season: 39 games, 66 points, 222 PIM!

Giving opposing fans a beating, showing his fans the finger, cursing and attacking referees, starting a team brawl...he was immediately the ultimate bad boy of Swiss hockey!

How do you like my new nail polish?

But he was better than all other players in the league, and he knew it! Often, he told rookie to carry his water bottle from the dressing room to the ice, or made them bring him other stuff. And it was once, and only once, that a rookie refused to do so…the next morning, the rookie came to the practice only to realize that Elik had used his skate as a toilet.

Another night, Elik went to a local pub, demolished most of it, took out a few thousand dollars, and gave it to the owner with the words “Sorry, that’s for the trouble we caused…” Todd Elik at his best.

2 minutes?! 2 minutes?! I deserve at least 5!!!

Despite these escapades, he will always be remembered for one game in 1999. Game 7, Chur vs. Langnau (Elik’s team at the time). The loser gets relegated, the winner stays in the league.

Elik had hit a visiting fan in the stands with his stick in game 5, and should have been suspended for 2 games. But Langnau’s appeal against the suspension was approved and he was cleared to play.

Before the puck was dropped, Elik went to the nervous referee and told him: “Don’t worry…I won’t cause you any problems…today, I’ll play hockey.” The start is a disaster for Langnau, trailing 2-0 after a few minutes. After the 2nd goal, Elik takes over the game with one of the most brilliant efforts Swiss hockey fans have seen in ages. Elik scores one goal himself and assists on all 6 other goals! 7 points were and still are a record for points in one game. And despite finishing at the bottom of the standings with his team, Elik earned MVP honors that season. He single-handedly kept Langnau in the league.

But his career in Switzerland ended 3 years ago, as he and his coach (Mike Posma) were charged with drunk driving after a game in the playoffs. And honestly, we would have been disappointed if Elik had kept his mouth shut. Elik insulted the police so much that he was charged with defamation of a police officer.

Elik: Hey, can I call you asshole?
Officer: No, that’s an insult.
Elik: OK, can I call an asshole “police officer” then?
Officer: I don’t see a problem with that.
Elik: OK, Police officer…

The next season, he signed a contract with a team from the Austrian league, where he is still playing…and it looks like he can still play the game…when he wants to!


Nicely done, Markus.

Go Ducks.