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

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Earl Sleek: Audio Idiot

Well, the Ducks won their "home" game in England, 4-1, to put the Sharks squarely in the BoC basement, and also it prevented me from mass producing my "0-2 in the O2" t-shirts. All in all, it seems playing in England was a pretty good opening gesture for the NHL--no major head hits or stick swings, some decent back-and-forth hockey, and two rookies getting the season's first two NHL wins. It did take 15 minutes for the lights to turn on, 5 periods of hockey for an even-strength goal to be scored, and a bit longer to see find out that English fans love fights, but those glitches aside, it seems to have gone off rather well, or at least not badly.

In terms of the game, here's the key stat that caught my eye: in the first game, Coach Carlyle had Ryan Getzlaf out for 5 1/2 shorthanded minutes; he was on the ice for all three L.A. power play goals. In game 2, Carlyle dropped Getzlaf's PK time to 20 seconds while rookie Ryan Carter picked up more than 3 minutes, and the Kings' power play didn't score once.

Anyway, I didn't even get to see this game live--I figured the Ducks stood a better chance of winning if I went to church. But that didn't stop me from listening to the postgame show Duck Calls on my way home (not that rare), nor did it stop me from calling in (a first!). I was on with host Josh Brewster and L.A. Times writer Eric Stephens for what ended up being a 17-minute segment, talking about all the BoC teams. Most of that time I was pacing around a convenience store parking lot like a lunatic, but I guess I ended up sounding intelligible enough.

You can access the audio at the Duck Call site here -- my segment is labeled 'Sept 30 Part 4'. I can't say it's the most inspired piece of call-in-show dialogue, but I will direct your attention to about 55 seconds in, when Stephens throws in this gem: "Yeah, Earl. I have seen your site. It's well done, by the way."

I think I might have to see a doctor about my suddenly bloated head.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Kings Live-Blog: It's Never Too Early For Hockey!

So here's last night:

I went to Target to buy a gift for my roommate Megalodon and my other roommate, Matt (who refuses to go by a nickname because, and I quote, "I'm not gay,"), bought The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. (I don't know why.) We drank two bottles of wine and then I demonstrated to Matt's little brother the dangers of alcohol.. Anyway, my head feels like it was boiled but I promised you people a live-blog and God dammit, I'm going to give it to you. Here's some articles to start your day. The Kings named Rob Blake as their captain; some people thought it would be Derek Armstrong, which would have literally killed me. One thing those people didn't understand: he's ROB BLAKE. Lubomir Visnovsky and Mike Cammalleri join Scott Thornton as assistants. (Is it associate now? That's really lame.) I don't know why, seeing as how he's older than me and Slovakian, but I'm always really happy when Lubo accomplishes something. He's like my child!

I have a good feeling about these games in London. The Ducks are missing Pahlsson, the good Niedermayer, Selanne, Giguere, and Schneider. If the Kings are going to beat the Ducks this season, it's gonna be now. Anyway, I'll be here all game and Megalodon and Matt will be making snide remarks here and there. Go Kings.

(Oh, and Matt changed his mind: he wants to be referred to as "The Awesome Guy Whose Team Won the Stanley Cup." I hate my roommates.)

8:54: Taylor Swift. I am a fan.

8:56: Huell Howser. I am not a fan. Hockey needs to start.

9:00: Hockey!

9:02: The Ducks are Stanley Cup champions, the Kings are Red Bull chamions. Winner gets both, deal?

Bernier is getting the start.

9:06: The blue lines have been moved out? What the fuck? How is this a real game?

9:10: The British bird sucks at singing. Why are they singing the British national anthem? I thought we kicked their ass so we wouldn't have to listen to this bullshit. Bernier looks like he's about to cry. He needs to change his number if he's going to be on the team for a while.

9:15: Oh for fuck's sake, the lights aren't working. It's like they're trying to give me a heart attack. Matt thinks that they brought the lights from America and they don't plug in right in Britain.

9:23: They showed a shot of Rob Blake and he looked incredibly forlorn, like he was thinking, "Man, I wonder what Scott's doing. I should've retired too." This is not encouraging. Also, the lighting delay means that we get more Brian Hayward. Great.

9:28: According to reader Tapeleg (who I would have sex with, so why shouldn't you?), the usually put dampers on the lights so that they don't have to turn them on again. Apparently that's not how they roll in England. No wonder the British lost the War of 1812.

9:34: Is it just me or is the camera way too close? Also, they almost missed the drop because it's the NHL.

9:36: Okay, Brad Stuart managed to make me care about him; he bleached his hair and he looks ridiculous. Bertuzzi got a penalty for holding, somehow. He managed to keep from murdering someone, though, so that's an improvement.

9:39: Sean O'Donnell just shot on his own goalie. Seriously. He had the puck and shot it on Brzyzgalov. After he shot it, Jimmy said, "English rules!" Meg said, "That doesn't make sense," and I agree with him. We like to think that he's been saying that all week like it's some great joke.

9:46: It's always weird the first couple games of the season; Kyle Calder is wearing 19 and I thought, "What the hell is Sean Avery doing out there?" Shane Hnidy made sure someone noticed him by getting a penalty.

9:49: Hooray! Cammalleri scores on a 5-on-3 thanks to Rob Niedermayer. I think they said that the assists were to Lubo and Kopitar, and I would say that is the perfect first goal of the season.

9:53: The Ducks got a 2-on-1 on the penalty kill but Lubo broke it up beuatifully. I love that guy and I don't care who knows it.

9:56: Just so you guys know, all. Senior. Citizens. Should. Have. Life Alert. I like to think that that old chick talks like that all the time. "Would. You. Please. Get. Me. Some tea."

10:04: Do you think anyone has made a Laurel & Hardy joke when Pronger and Carlyle are next to one another. Also, Jimmy is in mid-season from; there's pointless stories all over the place.

10:03: Wow, Tulane sucks ass... oh, sorry, wrong game.

10:06: They keep pushing this "Name the Rivalry" thing. I think they should name it the "Shut the fuck up and talk about the game" Rivalry.

10:07: The Ducks had a power play but couldn't do anything with it. I love Rob Blake on the penalty kill because it's like he's trying to see what he can get away with without getting a penalty.

First period ends, Kings up 1-0. They look pretty good. Is it just me or are the refs really shitty? I guess I shouldn't be surprised, given that that one Mick is reffing. I'm lovin' the Armstrong-Frolov-Calder line. I'm going to go make some chicken nuggets.

Did you see that Steve Downie got suspended for 20 games for his hit on Dean McAmmond? That seems a little excessive. I mean, Chris Simon didn't get suspended for that long, and he swung his stick at that one dude's head! I guess Downie did deserve that elbow courtesy of Jack Johnson.

10:19: How has John McEnroe made an entire career out of being a whiny asshole? Also, that Carl's Jr. commercial with the flat buns is what is wrong with America. Where did the hot chick go? (I'm pushing Earl to make this a blog about commercials, but so far he's been resistant.)

10:24: I just noticed that Kyle Calder didn't screen Bryzgalov on the King's goal. This is after Jimmy spent 5 minutes talking about how Calder screened him. I love Jimmy, but he's not that good at his job.

10:30: 2nd period starts and it's the little things I love about hockey, like when the ref kicks a center out of the face-off circle. I like to think that they say, "What are you doin'? Get the fuck out of here."

10:32: Lubo gets a penalty for holding Todd Bertuzzi, but that's not fair. Lubo is like 20 pounds, how is he supposed to stop Bertuzzi? I think Bertuzzi should get a penalty for being mean.

10:36: Jimmy said that Bernier works best from his knees and I think he speaks from experience.

10:38: The Kings kill off a penalty kill thanks to Jonathan Bernier, who is amazing. I don't know how to react; the Ducks will dump it in and I just assume that it's going in because, well, that's what happens to the Kings. Bernier's fucking everything up!

10:42: I'd just like to take a moment to say that my brother can't watch the game because he's at work and he doesn't get Prime Ticket. To that I say:


Hey, Shane Hnidy just boarded Patrick O'Sullivan! Fuck you, Shane Hnidy.

10:45: Hooray! Kings score thanks to Rob Blake. Dustin Brown made a great move to start the scoring oppurtunity. I love it when Blake is in front of the net; how do you move him?

Is Ivanans aware that you can't just hit someone when they don't have the puck? I don't think he is.

10:50: The Kings killed off the penalty to Ivanans. Bob and Jimmy talked about how Kopitar is living with his family this season, and that unsettles me.

10:53: Bernier makes a great save and then Rob Niedermayer tries to fight Jack Johnson. I'm not sure if the Kings can send Bernier down without mass rioting in the streets.

10:57: Jimmy said that Jack Johnson was "joshling" for the puck. Take a break there, big guy.

11:00: Modry with the save. Jon Klemm would have checked the puck, though, so he's better.

11:02: That'll do it for the 2nd period with the Kings up, 2-0.. This game kinda has a weird feel to me. Neither team seems like they're totally awake out there. I guess I can't complain too much, though, since the Kings are up. Back for the 3rd period in a bit.

11:05: I have to admit, I never get tired of them talking about how the Ducks don't have Selanne and Niedermayer. I'd like to say that now: the Ducks don't have Selanne and Niedermayer.

11:10: Bill MacDonald said that if Calder keeps playing like this, they might name a trophy after him. You are the worst person in the world, Bill MacDonald. On the other hand, Brian Hayward said that Teemu Selanne is one of the best "Fin(n)ishers" in the NHL. Now that's funny.

11:20: John Zeiler can't skate and it's somehow Pronger's fault. Kings on the power play. Zeiler skates like he has a stick up his ass.

11:22: Hooray! The Kings get another goal, this one thanks to Preissing. Kopitar gets another assist; hey Earl, does your league count power play points?

11:24: Who the fuck is Mark Mauers?

11:26: My roommates keep trying to guess which debilitating injury Jonathan Bernier will suffer this season. They're scaring me. Also, Matt thinks the reason the Ducks are so listless out there is because they're tired from carrying the Cup around everywhere.

11:30: Kopitar gets a penalty for hooking. He sucks and should be traded.

11:31: The Kings have had two good chances on the penalty kill: O'Sullivan had a nifty little move and then got dumped by Pronger, and Brown had a one-timer that Bryzgalov had a nice save on. They're booing Pronger for his hit on O'Sullivan, and how dick do you have to be to get booed by Brits?

11:32: "Jimmy, you can't drink while you're supposed to be working!" "English rules!"

11:38: If anyone wants to join the Jonathan Bernier Appreciation Society, meetings are on Wednesday at 8. Please bring some sort of baked good.

11:40: They gave the 3rd goal to Cammalleri, which gives him 2 on the day. I'd just like to remind everyone that we have him for 2 years at an extremely reasonable salary.

11:42: Boo! Bobby Ryan gets his first NHL goal on the power play thanks to Frolov. Ryan got the puck on a bounce and Bernier didn't really have a shot at it. Send him down!

Perry just got hit and looked shaken up. Unfortunately, he's okay.

11:47: He hasn't scored, but Bertuzzi has looked really good this game. He's driving to the net, staying strong on the puck, getting good shots... it's almost enough to make you forget that he once attempted murder.

11:48: I just noticed that the Kings brought their in-house announcer over to England. Was that really necessary? They didn't have one English guy that could do that job?

11:50: O'Sullivan has looked pretty good today too. He's had a couple of chances 1-on-1 where he just got in position to take the shot instead of trying to make a move.

11:52: Hey, what the hell was that? Andy McDonald just hit Bernier in the back of the head! I will bury you, Andy. The Ducks seem to think they're still in this game, so I don't think there's going to be a fight.

11:54: Well, fuck. There's a minute left, the Ducks are getting a ton of pressure, and Brad Stuart got a penalty.

11:55: Whew. Corey Perry had a great chance but Bernier stuffed him. O'Sullivan made a great play to get the puck to Michal Handzus and he ices the game.

11:56: Wow, Todd Marchant is kind of a dick. He just boarded John Zeiler. Oh well, when you're below .500 like the Ducks will be I guess you have to take the frustration out on someone.

11:58: That'll do it for the game. Kings win, 4-1. Jonathan Bernier played amazing and the Kings played a very tight, controlled game. Kings in first place!

That'll do it for me. Thanks for reading; it's tough to follow a game and write about it, but I might do this again if you thought it was good. If you didn't, keep it to yourself; I have low self-esteem.

BoC Gameday—A poetic beginning

Anaheim Ducks (0-0-0, 0 pts) at Los Angeles Kings (0-0-0, 0 pts), 9:00 am

Let's start this season off with a little class and culture, shall we? Before any blood spills, I mean.

L isten, dear readers, to the ballad at hand,
O f a Battle of California in a far distant land,
N ow the choice of location might strike you as odd,
D ucks and the Kings playing hockey abroad,
O 2 Arena—a new chapter ensues,
N ine in the morning—a great time to booze!

O ne team comes searching for answers in net,
P erhaps a teen rookie instead of a vet?
E lsewhere the cup champs begin their defense,
N ervously watching the retirement fence.
E ngland’s a strange place to stage the attack,
R eady or not, though, hockey is back!

Make sure you guys tune in later for Rudy's liveblog; I'm anxious to see a guy start crying before noon. All I'm going to offer is a little perspective from last year. These two teams met up for the season opener in Anaheim, and do you remember who scored the first goal of that game?

Hint: it's the guy in this photo that didn't just win the cup.

The only problem was, Rob Blake scored into his own net. And that's how the BoC's season started. That early mishap seemed innocent enough, but some will argue it set the momentum for the rest of the year; the Ducks continued to find ways to win while the Kings regularly found ways to shoot themselves in the foot.

Well it's a clean slate: a new season with new personnel in a new arena on a new side of the Atlantic. The 2007-08 season promises to be an awesome one in the BoC (especially once it gets to California!)—so let's get this bad boy started.

Prediction: I'm a little stumped what to predict with Pahlsson out of the lineup, so I'll just go with the goal scorers from last year's opener: Ducks 4, Kings 3. Perry gets credit for Blake's own-goal; McDonald, Getzlaf, and Kunitz also score. For the Kings, Kopitar scores two and Visnovsky gets one, making the day a fantasy success.

p.s. If anyone spots a girl in a green shirt in the crowd sitting next to a really tall guy in a Brodeur jersey, yell "Mags!" She's the only one I know at the event, and may provide a firsthand perspective if I'm persuasive enough.

The blog's all yours, Rudy. Go Ducks.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Mullet of Doom

Like Steven Seagal once was, the Sharks are now marked for death -- Barry Melrose has assigned his annual Mullet curse to the boys in teal, calling them the best team in the league in a video reviewing the Pacific Division that you can find on the ESPN NHL page. Fortunately, I don't see this in writing anywhere, so perhaps the Melrose curse only affects things in print form (or online text, depending on how you look at it).

Kings Season Preview Mega-Post, or: Rudy Drinks the Kool-Aid

Additions: Ladislav Nagy, Michal Handzus, Tom Preissing, Michal Handzus, Kyle Calder, Jack Johnson, J.S. Aubin, Jonathan Bernier (for now)

Losses: Tom Kostopolous, Mike Weaver, Mathieu Garon, Craig Conroy, Sean Avery, Brent Sopel, Dan Cloutier (for now)

Projected Lines in Camp:


Ivanans, Zeiler when we play the Ducks


Dallman when we want to lose


I’m pretty optimistic about this upcoming season. Despite last season’s troubles, the Kings still proved that they had a lot of young talent ready to break out. Mike Cammalleri and Alex Frolov can no longer be called "prospects" and both of them led the offense for much of last year. Anze Kopitar descended upon us with golden wings and will probably be our best player this year. Dustin Brown kept improving, slowly but surely, and should improve even more this year as he gears his game toward a more grinding, power style. Patrick O’Sullivan had a little trouble adjusting last year, but it’s going to be difficult for a young player when he realizes that his old moves don’t work in the NHL; he should thrive this year if he can play with a guy like Ladislav Nagy. Jack Johnson is in a perfect position to thrive in the NHL and will assume a larger role as the Kings diminish Rob Blake’s. Jonathan Bernier is playing with house money at this point. Those are just the young guys that are currently on the team; I haven’t even mentioned Thomas Hickey or Lauri Tukonen or Trevor Lewis or Brian Boyle. If these guys can continue to improve like they did last year, the Kings are going to be much better than most people think.

The most important thing Dean Lombardi did this off-season was improve the depth of the Kings. At this point last season, the Kings were pondering lines like O’Sullivan-Conroy-Cammalleri and Frolov-Kopitar-Willsie. We have three lines this year that are better than those two. Say what you want about Ladislav Nagy or Kyle Calder, but they are clearly better than Eric Belanger and Tom Kostopolous. I think a fundamental flaw in John Buccigross’ recent article about the Kings is that he thought guys like Nagy and Michal Handzus were going to take Cammalleri and Kopitar’s ice time. They’re not taking their ice time; their taking Scott Thornton’s and Konstantin Pushkarev’s. (Forgot he was on the team, didn’t you?) The same thing with the defense: Lubo will still get a lion’s share of the power play time, but we won’t have to rely on Matty Norstrom and Kevin Dallman on the 2nd power play unit because we have Tom Preissing and Brad Stuart.

1st Intermission:

I’m pretty pessimistic about this upcoming season. The Kings goaltending situation is even worse than could have been imagined. Dan Cloutier was obviously unhealthy and had to be sent down. Jason Labarbera, too, has been pretty bad this pre-season. I’m not sure why he's struggled, but he was supposed to be the guy who, if not great, was going to be consistently average for us. J.S. Aubin is not really worth talking about. The only guy who has inspired confidence is a 19 year-old kid who has never played a day of professional hockey. The list of NHL netminders who enjoyed success in their teens is as follows: Tom Barrasso. That’s the list. Unless Bernier becomes the 2nd coming, there’s no way the Kings can prevent a repeat of what happened last year.

The Kings have improved their depth for relatively cheap, but the question not being asked is why these players were cheap. Handzus is coming off major knee surgery. Nagy has either been great but hurt or healthy and average. Kyle Calder failed to live up to his initial hype. Brad Stuart was awful the past two years. Even Tom Preissing got benched during the Stanley Cup Finals. The signings seemed smart, but there was a reason 29 other GMs didn’t sign these guys. Even if the Kings had signed a guy like Drury for too much money, you could at least be guranteed some measure of production. The Kings have no such luxury.

During Mike Cammalleri’s arbitration hearing, Dean Lombardi talked about how Cammy had put up a lot of points on a bad team. The implication was that this was an indication of a lack of talent with the Kings rather than an abundance of talent in Cammalleri. The same argument could be applied to Kopitar or Frolov as well. (The fact that Brown did not pile up points with the amount of ice time he got scares me.) That’s the major problem with much of the King’s young talent; sure, they’ve been good on a bad team, but can they be good on a good team? I’m not sure about some of them. Last year, there was no pressure for them to perform. This year, there is.

I’m more in line with the first argument than I am with the second. Ultimately, I think the Kings are going to make the playoffs this season. For those who are still skeptical, here’s my rationale:

The Kings do not have to be one of the 8 best teams in the Western Conference; the Kings need to be one of the 3 best teams in the Pacific Division. Because of the unbalanced schedule, it’s pretty much guaranteed that there will be 3 teams from 2 conferences in the playoffs and then 2 in the other. I think the Pacific and the Northwest will get 3 each, while the Central will get 2. Of the three teams in the Pacific that get in, I think we can obviously write down San Jose and Anaheim and dismiss Phoenix. That leaves L.A. and Dallas. The two of them are opposites: Dallas is all defense and no offense (when was the last time you saw a team so dependant on defensive scoring?) while the Kings are mostly offense and no defense. Dallas has been looking like they were going to fall off a cliff for years now, and I think they finally will this season. Who is going to score on that team? I think the Kings will get just lucky enough with Kopitar and Cammalleri leading the way while the Frolov-Armstrong-Calder line will get an article written about them by December. (Hopefully Darren Eliot doesn’t write it.)

I almost changed my mind based solely on this picture.

It’s hard for me to do any predictions that involve the Kings because I can’t get my own biases out of the way. I’d be an asshole if I didn’t admit I really want the Kings to make the playoffs this year. (“You’re an asshole anyway!” “Hey!”) That being said, the Kings have the talent this year to make the playoffs. Whether they do or not is up to them.

Here’s my 100% bullshit, completely made-up guess as to how the Western Conference breaks down (Eff the East):

San Jose

St. Louis


So that’s how I have everything breaking down. I’m not too attached to these (though I did spend way too much time thinking about it), so feel free to eviscerate them in the comments.

2nd Intermission:

I was stumblin’ around Youtube the other day and I came across this:

That Game 3 is probably my favorite memory as a Kings fan. When Eric Belanger scored in overtime… well, people always say the birth of your child is the greatest moment of your life, but have you ever actually seen a birth? It’s disgusting. And weddings? No thanks. (Besides, my wife will probably be ugly anyway.) So yeah, that will probably be the greatest moment of my life. This team, this season, is the first time I've felt good about the Kings since that moment. Do I know if the Kings can actually make the playoffs this season? No, but I look forward to finding out. Go Kings.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Earl Sleek: the model of Londifference

As the Ducks and Kings finish preparing for actual games this weekend, I thought I’d devote a post to the apparent problems of having two BoC teams starting their season in London. This is not to say that there won’t be any positives to these two teams taking the trip—but without knowing what the actual point of this Euro-experiment is, it’s tough to say how well the NHL did in its preparations. Anyway, here’s four reasons why the NHL’s decision-making seems odd to me.

1. Distance
In terms of miles traveled, the Ducks and Kings are the two most geographically distant NHL cities from London, England. It’s quite strange that the NHL would take its two furthest franchises and fly them 5,400 miles out of their way to start their season. But travel distance isn’t even the main concern here—there’s also an issue of time zones. If the NHL is trying to make more fans in the UK, maybe a smarter plan might have been to send two teams that don’t start most of their games at 3 or 3:30 am London time.

2. Destination
While the notion of having NHL games in Europe isn’t a bad one, the actual destination of London is bizarre—unlike many choices in Europe, England is not a hockey hotbed and there aren’t many Brits who make it to the NHL level. I mean, certainly there are British hockey fans, but how the NHL managed to pick a location where most of the locals are indifferent or unaware is beyond me. It’s not that it’s a hugely horrible decision, but it really begs the question—why not Sweden, or Finland, the Czech Republic, or Russia, a place where the NHL would be more warmly received?

3. Personnel
I’ve made a point of it before, but it is interesting that the NHL is sending the Ducks, the least European team in the league, to play in Europe. Anaheim’s player bias was exacerbated by the short summer—Sammy Pahlsson remains out with a hernia surgery and Teemu Selanne still needs more time to consider retirement. While it is cool that the games feature the defending Cup champions, I can’t help thinking it would be a better draw to send a team with an actual European superstar on it. I can think of 29 better possibilities in that regard.

4. Opponent
I’ve got a few mixed feeling about the fact that it will be the Ducks and Kings playing. On the one hand, they are pretty bitter rivals and probably will make for some exciting hockey, but on the other, the NHL took two of its guaranteed sell-outs and shipped them overseas. It’s a curious move for a league that is pretty gate-driven, at least. Surely there are games on the NHL’s schedule that could have used a London attendance boost more than Ducks-Kings.
But take heart, London! I’m not really here to make a big fuss about this; in fact, I’m having trouble caring about these drawbacks at all. Sure, the opening travel schedule for the Ducks is way inconvenient for the team, but as a fan, I’m not letting their issues get to me. For instance, the short summer might suck for a hockey player, but coming from the TV wasteland that is Southern California, I’m delighted to see hockey again this soon. And sure, maybe the team is screwed by all this early-season travel, but given the choice, I’d rather be screwed in the first few games of the year than sometime later.

Maybe I’m just feeling generous because of the cup win, but while the London games don’t seem like an ideal fit, I’m not going to raise a stink. Enjoy the novelty show, anyone who’s attending—there will be plenty of time afterwards to figure out if it was worth it or not.

As an aside, if you haven’t seen the Ducks’ picture gallery of the team flying to London, it is perhaps my favorite team photo gallery ever. Not only do you get to see such great shots as Pronger getting his bag searched, Bryzgalov and Perry being screened with a hand-wand, and Parros doing a crossword puzzle, but damn, these Ducks fly in style! Anyway, I will be stealing from this picture gallery a bunch, I bet, so I figured I’d better link to it now.

This is the part of the plane where they keep the criminals.

Also, Sleek-favorite Sammy Pahlsson briefly answered some random questions—it turns out he hates Joe Thornton because he resembles the cast of “Dude, Where’s my Car?” Or something like that.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Aubservations From Austria

They were showing the game online at NHL.tv, so I ignored work for a while and watched the game. The Kings won, 4-3.

-Jack Johnson is a very good stick handler for a guy his size.

-You can't blame the goaltender for any of the goals the Kings let in. (I'm actually not sure who allowed what; Bernier started but was removed some time before the middle of the 2nd.) The first goal was Blake's fault; he jumped up during a change, lost the puck, and hung Lubo out to dry on a 3-on-1. The next two were both tip-ins on the power play.

-Patrick O'Sullivan looked pretty good. He was out there on the penalty kill and really got after the puck. He scored with a rocket from the circle.

-Brady Murray looks like he's skating underwater; he's pumping his arms and legs really fast but isn't actually moving that much.

-Lubo looks amazing on a large ice surface. Can he and Scott Niedermayer play together once? He scored on a power play that was almost ruined by Brian Willsie running into the goalie. I despise that dude.

-Cammy had a ridiculous goal where he went around two guys and then flipped over the goalie's far pad while he was almost past the net.

-Anze outdid him, though, scoring with 46 seconds left in the game. He had a partial breakaway, took a shot, got hauled down, then flipped a backhand over the goalie while he was on the ground. Is it possible for me to have his children? (Side note: he won MVP for the Kings and was given a jersey. The goalie for the other team won a PSP. Apparently tournament organizers thought the particpants were twelve.)

Overall, it was a pretty good game. I hadn't seen the Kings play yet this season, so I was happy. They outshot the other team 47-32, but penalties did them in. I hope that's just because of the larger ice surface (it's way easier to bring the puck in on the power play) and the fact that the refs called everything. The Kings still needed some work and they lacked any real secondary scoring without Handzus and Frolov out there. (I think Nagy was taken out of the game at some point, but I don't know why.) And now, London.

Kings Gameday: I'm Still Not Convinced This "Austria" Exists

Okay, c'mon, there's no way that's a real place.

The Kings are still in this mythical land of Austria, where people wear hats on their feet and the hamburgers eat people. (Jesus, is that the Australia episode too? That’s a good one.) Despite some… difficulties yesterday, the Kings still managed to win. Labarbera’s struggles in the game mean that he’s obviously worthless and we should just ignore the 80 games he played last year. (Playing goaltender on an international ice surface is way different because you have to adjust how you center yourself; I’m sure that was the problem. At least, I think.)
Anywho, the Kings now play some Swede team that I don’t know and will probably kick the hell out of them. (The day I fear something Swedish is the day I die at the hands of Matty Norstrom.) I assume Bernier will start this time, but I’ve given up on guessing what the hell the Kings are doing. Puck should drop in about 45 minutes.

Prediction: Kings, 6-2. 2 goals by Calder, 2 by O’Sullivan, 1 by Nagy and Brown. Kopitar will have 7 assists because he can do that.


Yesterday over on Inside the Kings, Rich Hammond quoted Marc Crawford as saying that Alexander Frolov and Michal Handzus were hurt. I knew about Frolov, but Handzus? He had his tonsils removed like a month ago! I’m beginning to think he may actually be a woman, or even worse, a baseball player.


I’m doing a live-blog! It should be Saturday, barring unforeseen circumstances. I’m sure I’ll be incredibly witty for the 1st period, realize I’ve made a huge mistake by the 2nd, and completely mail it in for the rest of the game. Should be fun. I usually wait until a live-blog is over before I start to read it, but if you’d like to follow along in the comments, feel free.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Draft like the pros, part II

For the second year in a row, I took part in Mirtle's name-dropping fantasy league, which had its live draft this past weekend. There's a lot of big-name participants: Mirtle, BoA's Matt, CiO's Chris!, Spector, PJ, JJ, PPP, David Johnson, Forechecker, and more--it's certainly an intimidating group! In all it comes to 20 teams, head-to-head, as follows:

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

So basically, it was two-plus hours of us drafting 400 players--the deepest draft I've ever been a part of. Anyway, without any further excuses, here's how I did.

Rd – Pick – Player
1 – 15 – E. Nabokov, G SJS
2 – 26 – J. Cheechoo, RW SJS
3 – 55 – L. Visnovsky, D LAK
4 – 66 – R. Smyth, LW COL
5 – 95 – A. Kopitar, C LAK
6 – 106 – P. Sykora, C PIT
7 – 135 – A. Hemsky, RW EDM
8 – 146 – T. Bertuzzi, RW ANA
9 – 175 – A. Raycroft, G TOR
10 – 186 – M. Handzus, C LAK
11 – 215 – S. Bernier, RW SJS
12 – 226 – C. Ehrhoff, D SJS
13 – 255 – R. Clowe, LW SJS
14 – 266 – J. Johnson, D LAK
15 – 295 – M. Garon, G EDM
16 – 306 – C. Rivet, D SJS
17 – 335 – R. Fedotenko, LW NYI
18 – 346 – R. Ivanans, LW LAK
19 – 375 – M. Stajan, C TOR
20 – 386 – B. Radivojevic, RW MIN

C – Kopitar, Sykora, Handzus, Stajan
LW – Smyth, Clowe, Fedotenko, Ivanans
RW – Cheechoo, Hemsky, Bertuzzi, Bernier, Radivojevic
D – Visnovsky, Ehrhoff, Johnson, Rivet
G – Nabokov, Raycroft, Garon
So all in all, 12 BoC players drafted on my 20-man roster (6 Sharks, 5 Kings, and a Duck named Bertuzzi), plus this morning I dropped Radivojevic for Jonas Hiller in an attempt to pick up some goaltending stats from England.

If you recall last year, I drafted even more BoC-heavy in this league, getting 13 BoC players in a 19-player draft (7 Ducks, 4 Kings, and 2 Sharks), and then immediately traded away Kiprusoff and Sykora for Niedermayer and Pronger. That worked out well enough; I got a fourth place finish (out of 20), with a claim-to-fame that I played Dan Cloutier every game he was eligible. Now you may be wondering, "Sleek, why the change in strategy? Given up on the Ducks this year?"

To tell the truth, this year's not the fantasy draft anomaly--really, last year was. Last year, I consciously decided to break Fantasy Hockey Rule #1: Never draft with your heart. It's kind of like putting all your eggs in one basket (though this saying has never made complete sense to me--who really wants multiple baskets of eggs?). Had the Ducks suffered last year, I would have been hurting on two fronts: reality and fantasy. Fortunately, they didn't, but I'm not one to keep the same heavy gamble going year after year.

Instead, this year I went with a much more emotionally safe fantasy team--one that offsets my actual desires. That way, if the Ducks score and win a bunch, I might suffer on the fantasy front but I can at least take heart in actual results. If, on the other hand, the Ducks get pummeled in the BoC this year, I'll take a lot of heat on this blog for real-life results but damn--I'll probably be kicking ass in the Mirtle League! Besides, I think it would be nice to experience how the Sharks and Kings fans feel each year after being disappointed by their players' lackluster efforts.

Anyways, I know it's not that helpful just seeing my picks without any context, but if anybody has any comments, advice, or trade offers, the Sleek-store is now open for business.

Go me.

Kings Gameday: Wait, They Played Already?

G’Day, Mates! The Kings are over in sunny Austria, playing a few games and then maybe putting a shrimp on the barbie or chillin’ with some kangaroos or something. They just wrapped up their first game, winning 7-6 against Red Bull Salzburg. That’s a little closer than I’d like, but maybe they had a little trouble sleeping last night with all the koalas running around.


Labarbera started the game but got pulled five minutes in after letting in 3 goals (to be fair, 2 were on the power play). Aubin came in and played the rest of the way. Letting in 6 goals is not a good sign for our goaltending, but I’m not going to worry about it until the season starts. With their win, the Kings will play sometime tomorrow against some other team I've never heard of (loser gets the boot). Bernier will probably start that game and be awesome and get all our hopes up before dashing them by never amounting to anything. (I’m trying to keep my hopes low.) I thought the championship game was decided by playing Knifey Spoonies, but I was wrong.

On the offensive side, Kopitar had a hat trick and is my hero. Someone give that guy a bloomin’ onion!

(What's that? Oh, AUSTRIA… I’m an idiot.)

Monday, September 24, 2007

BoNY made me do it: Season Previews

Now that the Kings have introduced Bailey the hard-luck lion ("Seriously, I have to root for the Kings?!"), I thought I'd make a little all-nature BoC logo based on the teams' mascots. It got me thinking about what it would be like if there really were a three-way fight to the death among these three animals in nature. Sure, a lot of people would take the shark or the lion over the duck, but really, a lot would depend on location: the duck would outlast the lion in open waters and it would outlast the shark on dry land. And if you dropped them out of a plane, I like the duck's chances.

Regardless of what you think of the Kings' new mascot, you still gotta like the choice of a lion better than this option.


Anyway, Rudy and I both got enlisted by Steve from Battle of New York to do another set of season previews for SportsFan Magazine, this time in the form of answering questions. It's actually been about a month since those answers were submitted, but fortunately nobody's made any preview-altering decisions about retirement since then. So here's Sleek answering 15 questions about the Ducks, and Rudy answering the same set for the Kings.


There's not too much to report on the last few days of the Ducks' preseason--I'm not a guy who takes too much hope or dismay out of preseason results. Still, two things worth noting:

1. In the last preseason game against the half-roster Canucks, Coach Carlyle made an interesting lineup change: playing Getzlaf and Perry on separate lines. It's an intriguing possibility that I hadn't really considered until now, and at first blush I gotta say it probably makes sense. Perry played on a top line with McDonald and Kunitz, while Getzlaf killed on a line with Bertuzzi and Bobby Ryan.

2. Swiss goaltender Jonas Hiller "the Killer" played well enough through camp to earn a seat on a plane to London, but it's unclear whether he will get any playing time in the games against the Kings. If he doesn't, that will mean that the Ducks will have managed a pretty neat trick: going to play two NHL games in Europe and not playing any European players.

Well, the next game counts! Go Ducks.

Season (P)Review: Tom Preissing

Last Season: 7 G, 31 A, +40 (Jesus), 18 PIM

Word That Best Describes His Season: Pleasant.

$11 million dollar contract, $5 dollar haircut.

Tom Preissing signed a 4 year, $11 million dollar deal with the Kings this off-season. Since he’s probably going to be on our team for a while, I figure we should get to know him. Here’s 4 things to know about Tom Preissing:

1) He’s smart. Preissing wrote his senior thesis at Colorado College on the lack of competitive balance in the NHL. Apparently it was actually good enough to be published in an economics journal. So hey, Preissing’s not a moron, good to know.

2) He won the San Jose Sharks Playstation Rookie of the Year in 2003. Since I got that from Wikipedia, I’m not sure if that means he won an award presented by Playstation or if he was rookie of the year on someone’s Playstation game. Either way, it's... something.

3) He is better than Mark Bell. Preissing was involved in a three-team trade where Chicago received Martin Havlat, Ottawa got Preissing, and San Jose got Mark Bell. Since I don’t get to say this very much, I’m going to say it now: San Jose’s front office sure fucked that one up.

4) He looks vaguely like a frog. Just sayin’.

"Nice pass, To- oh, I'm sorry, I thought you were someone else."

I’d like to welcome Tom Preissing back to the Battle of California. We basically get Joe Corvo back except Preissing is a little younger, a little better, and a little less inclined to kick a woman in the stomach. The only thing I'm worried about is the fact that the three defensemen we have under control for a while are Preissing, Lubo, and Johnson, all offensive forwards. Oh well, if our biggest problem in 3 years is that we have those 3 guys on our team, I don't think I'll be too upset. Oh, and Sharks fans: if you have fond memories of Preissing (or Mark Bell), feel free to leave them in the comments.

Season (P)Review: Mike Cammalleri & Lubomir Visnovsky

Last Season:
Cammalleri- 34 G, 46 A, +5,48 PIM
Visnovsky- 18 G, 40 A, +1, 26 PIM

Word That Best Describes Both Seasons: Spectacular.

I have no idea what's going on in this picture.

I’ve already written a lot about Cammy and Lubo this off-season, so you can check those out here and here. They were our two best players last year and we can only hope that they keep it up. One thing to note: Lubo had to switch defensive sides to accommodate Rob Blake last year and had a little trouble with it, at least in his estimation. That shouldn’t be a problem this year.

(Looking around for help): What the hell? This is hockey, right?


Darren Eliot wrote a piece for SI.com about all the young talent in the West and failed to mention a single King. Not one. In an article about young talent in the Western Conference. Darren Eliot, you were a better goalie than you are a writer.

(Update: I went to SI.com to link to the article and discovered Eliot has a new article about Bernier. I think someone warned him I was going to make fun of him. Whatever, the article is terribly written anyway. It's totally obvious that he just read a few articles and then put them into his own words.)


I’m not excited about Jonathan Bernier. Really, I’m not. Sure, he’s barely 19 and played extremely well at Frozen Fury. Sure, we haven’t a had real homegrown goaltender since… well, ever. But still, I’m not excited; he’s only 19 and will probably get sent down after his 9 games are up. Yes, I’m smiling, but it’s not about him.

I’m not excited.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Kings Gameday: Vegas, Baby, Vegas!

"The Kings suck in this game, you should play as another team."

The Kings are going to try and give the Avalanche the ol' rainman sweep tonight at Frozen Fury tonight. I'm not sure why they do this every year, but it gives Kings fans an excuse to go to Vegas so it's cool with me. There's no word on which goalie is going to start, but my money's on Labarbera. I'm also predicting that Kopitar gets 2 goals tonight because, as you all know, you always double down on 11. I'm also hoping that someone makes Ryan Smyth's head bleed. (Oh, I'm the asshole? I'm out of here. I'm not eating here... I wouldn't eat here... I'd never eat here anyways.)


Bailey, doing his Deadmarsh imitation.

The Kings unveiled their new mascot, Bailey. He's so money and he doesn't even know it. (Okay, I'll stop.) I must say, he's a pretty cool cat. Check out his bio; it's kind of funny to read it and imagine some college graduate pain-stakingly putting it together. He's far superior to Sharky (Sharks can't wear jerseys!) and he's not on fire so that puts him above Wild Wing. Welcome to the Kings, Bailey; you've made a big mistake.

Miao, babe.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Dancin' in the Streets

Dan Cloutier has been placed on waivers. There's a 24-hour waiting period to see if anyone claims him (ha!) and then he'll probably get sent to Manchester. I don't know how I missed this, but thank you Earl. More to come when I actually know what's going on.


Okay, I've had some time to think about this. Here's 3 things I think we can definitively say at this point:

1) Cloutier is not fully healed. I think Dean Lombardi watched the first few games and realized that Cloutier is not quite 100%. Cloutier suffers from "Eric Gagne Syndrome," where he thinks playing through pain will make him look tougher when all it really does is hurt the team and him in the long run. There's no point in him working off his rust up here in L.A., so we might as well let him do it in Manchester. (Sorry Manchester, your loss. I guess that's what you get for living in New Hampshire.)

2) Jonathan Bernier is going to get a shot. He's been the best goalie in training camp by most accounts, so it's only right that he be given a chance. Plus, they already said that they'd take three goalies to Europe. He might not play in London, but he'll definitely be allowed to make his case. I can imagine him and Labarbera splitting time for a while, with Aubin playing the role of back-up.

3) Dean Lombardi is my hero. Sending Cloutier down takes balls. Even though it was the right thing to do if Cloutier was still injured, I can't think of too many other GMs in the league that would do that. I know he made a mistake in giving Cloutier an extension, but every GM will do that; the key is to not compound the mistake by refusing to recognize it. I worship the guy, but this does not seem like something Dave Taylor would have been willing to do.

I never actually thought that the Kings were going to give Bernier a shot because Lombardi has a history for bringing his goalies along slowly. I guess I was wrong. Kudos to loyal reader dbushik, for calling it about a week ago. Let's see how he does.

Update #2: This isn't really an update, but I just wanted to point out that they have highlights from last season over on espn.com. I'm so excited about the season that I'm not even going to get mad that they didn't have one Kopitar goal from last year. (But I mean really, come on...) My personal favorites? Jordan Staal absolutely embarrassing some Philly defenseman (if it were an And 1 game, they would have made the guy leave), Phaneuf's hit on some Senator (I think the guy's a little overrated but he completely stops the other guy's momentum), and the 2nd Ryan Miller flying stick save because he not only stops it but then keeps it from rolling in while still in the air (maybe they should just shoot it on the ground next time). I also like seeing Brodeur doing the ol' half-butterfly to the stick side; you don't really see that anymore.

Season (P)Review: Jaroslav Modry

Last Season: 1 G, 14 A, +11, 54 PIM in 76 games

Word That Best Describes His Season: Enough.

There are three things about me that I don’t like people to know: I cried during Homeward Bound, I own the DiCaprio version of Romeo & Juliet, and I don’t mind Jaroslav Modry. That’s the Kings fan equivalent of saying I like to play with my own crap. It’s like a requirement for being a Kings fan: you drink too much, you make fun of the Ducks and the Sharks even though your team wears purple, and you hate Modry. I’ve never been able to. Really, I don’t understand the visceral reaction people have against him.

Kings fans did not take the Modry acquistion well.*

Modry was on the team from 1997 to 2004. He was one of our best defensemen for a couple of years (he played over 20 minutes a game in both 2003 and 2004) and was a nice balance to our two-headed monster of Aaron Miller and Matty Norstrom. He’s always been a pretty good offensive defenseman and he was our best offensive defenseman in the gap between Blake’s departure and Visnovsky’s emergence. He gets a bad rap for his defense, and he’s not really that good at it, but it’s not like he’s Souray out there or anything. Is he a good defenseman? No, probably not. Is he capable? Yeah, sure. Plus, he’s only costing us $1.2 million this year, which isn’t that bad for a defenseman who’s going to play every night.

Umm, Jaro... wrong jersey.

I think the reason people hate Jaroslav Modry is because he doesn’t fit into their pre-conceived notions of what a defenseman is. Most hockey fans love grinders, especially on defense. Guys like Jon Klemm, who are basically worthless but throw a meaningless bodycheck around every once in a while? Can’t get enough of ‘em. Guys like Modry, who are capable but are also labeled as “soft?” Worthless. I don’t really understand it. I think the reason the Sharks have been so successful in the past few years is that they have gone after defenseman who don’t really bring that physical aspect of the game but still know how to position themselves and play defense. I think Lombardi feels the same way in signing guys like Preissing and Stuart and getting Modry from Dallas. It may not be what people expect, but I think it’s what will work.

Modry will probably play with Jack Johnson this season and maybe get a little action on the power play. He’s a good person for Jack to play with; he can show him some tricks on offense while also forcing Jack to be defensively responsible (because Modry will be up most of the time; also, Modry will get beat a lot). I don’t know, maybe I’ll watch Modry this season and discover that I hate him, but right now I think he’s a solid (though not necessarily great) contributor to the team.

*Why is that when I type "Angry Fans" into Google Image Search, the 2nd picture is of a naked guy holding a horse? Come to think of it, that's the 2nd picture when you put anything into Google Image Search.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Season (P)Review: Michal Handzus

Last Season: 3 G, 5 A, 6 PIM, +4, 8 Games Played

Word That Best Describes His Season: Lost.

I must admit, I’m not too familiar with Michal Handzus. There are three things I know about him:

Okay, 4 things: he creeps me out.

1) He’s a good defensive center. I don’t really have anything to go on with this except for a Selke nomination back in 2000 (and Earl can tell you about how that award is bullshit), but I think it’s safe to say that Handzus is an above-average defensive forward. I mean, I could do stuff like “analysis” or “fact-checking,” but who the hell am I, Upton Sinclair? I got shit to do, like… um… eat. (Whew, almost blew my cover there. Nice save, Kelly.)

2) He was injured most of last year with a knee injury. I’m a little nervous about this, just because the Kings signed a solid defensive center coming off a knee injury to shore up their offense and that didn’t work out too well. Even worse, both Alyn McCauley and Handzus have first names that sound normal but are off by one letter; they’re like twins! Anyway, Handzus played in only 8 games last year so he might start off a little slow. Even worse, he just got a tonsillectomy, which is probably the 2nd lamest injury you can miss time for. (The first? Appendectomy. I don’t know why, it just is. Who has the list in front of them? That’s right, so shut up.) Given the Kings’ penchant for signing guys who don’t realize that they actually have to play to earn their money the past two seasons, I’m cautiously pessimistic about Handzus’ knee.


3) He kind of looks like Beaker from the Muppets. At least he does to me. Wouldn’t it be funny if they did that “Sounds of the Game” thing with Handzus and you could hear him calling for the puck and he was all, “Meemee!” That would be awesome.

So yeah, that’s pretty much all I got when it comes to Handzus. What do you people want from me? I’m not Earl, okay? I can’t do “analysis,” whatever the hell that is. Do you know how hard it is to write about every single Kings player? I’m pretty sure everything I wrote about Raitis Ivanans was made up. Oh well, at least I get paid handsomely… wait a minute, Wild Wing isn’t on the $50 dollar bill! Damn you, Sleek!!!


The Kings are unveiling a new mascot this Friday at Frozen Fury. They haven't given out a picture of him yet but they have revealed his name: Bailey, named after former scout Ace Bailey. I think that's pretty cool. They also gave out his jersey number: 72, after the average temperature in Los Angeles. I think that's pretty cool too. I don't know why some people get bent out of shape about the Kings having a mascot; he won't distract from the game too much and kids will like him. (I always think it's funny when people talk about the tradition of sports. It's for fun people, calm the fuck down!) Welcome, Bailey; I already like you more than Brian Willsie.

The burning question: How funny is evil?

Well, not too much to report from last night’s SJS 1 – ANA 0 preseason game that isn’t being capably reported elsewhere. It certainly wasn’t the most exciting hockey game, but I think it indicates that preseason or not, the Sharks and Ducks take each other quite seriously.

  • I have completely flip-flopped on the San Jose road jersey. Seeing it in person, I hate it. The blue and the orange don’t really get along, but maybe more painful was the bottoms of the jerseys. The white part below the horizontal stripe looks like each player is wearing an untucked dress shirt worn below their jersey—it just screams “sloppy”. Then again, the color scheme kind of screams “colorblind”, so pick your poison, I guess.

  • It’s tough to say who really looked good out there for the Ducks—I was really impressed with a first period shift for Bertuzzi-Getzlaf-Perry (a line I’ve been hoping to see this coming year), but apparently Coach Carlyle wasn’t. The rest of the game was played with Kunitz-McDonald-Bertuzzi followed by Miller-Getzlaf-Perry, which both seemed to be decent while unproductive combinations.

  • On the Sharks, the guy who probably scared me the most all night was Jonathan Cheechoo. Ron Wilson played a much more mixed lineup, and for the most part the SJ prospect-kids looked pretty good, especially on the blueline. Alexei Semenov is a pretty big monster out there, by the way, which became super-evident when he got in a fight with a comparative midget named Travis Moen.
But hey, I’m stalling. My real burning question has to do with our new goaltender Jonas Hiller, who played a serviceable 60 minutes and could replace Ilya Bryzgalov as Anaheim’s backup this year. Last night at the game we had a good debate about assigning Hiller a nickname. The hilariously-offensive suggestion? Hitler. Now I know that there are hundreds of super-valid reasons why we shouldn’t go down that road, but I have to admit, I had a great time last night with the drinky catcalls “Nice save, Hitler! Watch that five-hole, Hitler!”

So I guess I’ll leave it to the readership. If I need a good talking-to about the appropriate use of historical mega-villains, let me have it. If you think the inappropriateness makes it all the more hilarious, I’m all ears. If you’ve got a better suggestion that will get me out of this debate, I’m certainly open for one. And if you think that this nickname should be reserved strictly for Kings assistant Dave Lewis, I’ll take that into consideration.

Hitler—yay or nay? Rip me a new one in the comments.


LATE NIGHT EDIT: OK, OK, the Swiss have spoken. Hitler's a no-go. I shall instead stick with his more common nickname "The Killer" instead.

Sorry for any drunken insensitivity, Markus. I'll offer this as a peace offering (hopefully you're a Chow Yun-Fat fan):

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Season (P)Review: Brian Willsie

11 G, 20 A, -20, 49 PIM, 81 games too many

Word That Best Describes His Season: Terrible.

According to Matt Kredell over at Inside the Kings, the word around camp is that Brian Willsie has been the most improved player there. I assume this means that he was able to tie his skates without shitting himself. I despise Brian Willsie. There is no one in the world who could like Brian Willsie except for maybe his mom, and even she probably thinks he should just pass the puck instead of shooting so damn much. Where the fuck does he get off shooting 131 times, anyway? (That’s 8th on the team.) I'm going to preemptively sue him if he keeps this shit up for the years he's taking off my life. I don’t even know why he thinks he has a good shot; it's so bad he couldn’t score on Cloutier. (Zing… oh wait.)

Nice scoring oppurtunity, jackass.

I give Scott Thornton a lot of shit but at least he’s old and is a cool guy off the ice. Willsie is supposedly in his prime and steals people’s organs in his spare time.* I loathe you, Brian Willsie. If you were to get hurt and miss all season, I wouldn’t be happy but… wait, I guess I would. Sorry, Jesus.

(*Not actually true… as far as I know.)

Out of nowhere, BoC Gameday!

San Jose Sharks (0-0-1) at Anaheim Ducks (2-1-1)

Well, it’s all happened within the last hour, but without a lot of warning, it turns out that I will be in my old haunt tonight—the Row B seats—for my first glimpse of post-championship NHL hockey. If you’re going to be there, feel free to stop by and say hi to the guy in the green shirt, otherwise I’ll probably just see you all in hell (translation: I will tell you how it went tomorrow).

Prediction: Ducks 4, Sharks 2. Goals by Perry, some new kid, Beauchemin, and how about Brad May’s first goal in a Ducks uniform? Damn, I miss Pahlsson already.

Go Ducks.

Ducks Preview, Part 1: Defining what needs to be replaced

Well, now that camp is halfway done and it’s become apparent that Niedermayer or Selanne have no imminent plans to rejoin the team, I think I can finally sit down and start writing up a season preview. Previewing this Anaheim team is still a bag of questions, however, as I don’t really know how forward lines or defensive pairs will be laid out, but in any case a good first step is to determine precisely what’s missing from last year. Essentially, this can be boiled down to three significant players and their contributions: Teemu Selanne, Dustin Penner, and Scott Niedermayer. These three combined for 103 goals over 103 games (regular season plus playoffs), but let’s delve in a bit to see where those goals really came from.

To study this, I am going to compare Selanne & Penner’s output to the results of the rest of the Anaheim forwards. Then I will compare Niedermayer’s output to the results of the rest of the defensemen. Finally, I will look at all three players’ results compared to the rest of the team.

Note that this strictly is dealing with on-ice productivity, ignoring such factors as experience, leadership, salary, or popularity. I will also be talking a bit about quality of minutes based on Behind the Net’s quality of teammate and quality of opposition metrics, which basically provide a context for the ice time based on the other players on the ice.


Teemu Selanne—Teammate ranking: 15 / 676, Opposition ranking: 566 / 676
Dustin Penner—Teammate ranking: 104 / 676, Opposition ranking: 572 / 676
Scott Niedermayer—Teammate ranking: 486 / 676, Opposition ranking: 132 / 676



Teemu Selanne







Dustin Penner







Rest of forwards







Selanne / Penner Pct.







Scott Niedermayer







Rest of defense







Niedermayer Pct.







All three players







Rest of team







Three Player Pct.







Takeaways: Both Selanne and Penner had relatively easy ice time, playing mostly with teammates that produced at even strength and against opponents that did not. Using that icetime, Selanne and Penner were able to score 29% of Anaheim forwards’ goals and 23% of the points, using 18% of the available ice time. Those are lofty numbers, but there is plenty of scoring ice time available to help replace that production.

Niedermayer, on the other hand, played much more difficult even-strength shifts, and despite this was able to score 32% of Anaheim defensemen’s goals and points using 19% of the available ice time. These are going to be much more difficult points to replace at even-strength, as it will have to be done with some defensive-oriented teammates and against some lofty competition.

Overall, the three players produced 29% of Anaheim’s even-strength goals and 25% of Anaheim’s even-strength points.


Teemu Selanne—Teammate ranking: 4 / 428, Opposition ranking: 406 / 428
Dustin Penner—Teammate ranking: 23 / 428, Opposition ranking: 353 / 428
Scott Niedermayer—Teammate ranking: 8 / 428, Opposition ranking: 356 / 428
(note that these rankings are based on 5-on-4 only)



Teemu Selanne







Dustin Penner







Rest of forwards







Selanne / Penner Pct.







Scott Niedermayer







Rest of defense







Niedermayer Pct.







All three players







Rest of team







Three Player Pct.







Takeaways: By the end of the playoffs, Selanne, Penner, and Niedermayer made up 3/5 of the Ducks’ top power play unit. And even though the Ducks’ PP sputtered towards the end of the playoffs, it still was one of the best performing units throughout all of last year.

Because of the PP dominance, you can see that all three players have very easy-looking quality of icetime, though I should caution that the Teammate ranking is largely based on playing with each other, something that replacement players will not have the benefit of. Still, the players who will need to replace this offense will be given the opportunity to play with the best available teammates, so I’m not sure how these metrics will be affected.

Power play results are a pretty tricky concept, especially when overhauling most of a top unit. It’s tough to get a handle on how chemistry, positions, or roles will change. Selanne in particular appears the most difficult to replace, as his 25 regular season power play goals led the entire league.

One strange factor to note, though: despite the lofty numbers, this trio of players only combined for one postseason power play goal. I guess the encouraging thing is that the Ducks were still able to win despite the special teams dropoff.


(Both Selanne and Penner played less than 10 minutes of PK time, so they are exempted.)

Scott Niedermayer—Teammate ranking: 160 / 395, Opposition ranking: 68 / 395
(note that these rankings are based on 4-on-5 only)



Scott Niedermayer







Rest of defense







Niedermayer Pct.







Takeaways: This is why Scott Niedermayer is amazing. Alongside his impressive even-strength and power play assignments, he also threw in quite a bit of shorthanded play as well. His results don’t look terribly spectacular, but considering his difficulty of 4-on-5 minutes and his regular spot on 2-man disadvantages, it is significant time that will need to be replaced as well.


These three players represent 29% of Anaheim’s even-strength goals and 42% of Anaheim’s power play goals, and all told represent one full goal-scored per game. That said, there is some pretty attractive ice time available to help offset these losses. With this in mind, let’s take a quick glance at the two main replacements that were brought in this summer:
Mathieu Schneider: Schneider is a pretty optimal replacement for Scott Niedermayer’s even-strength and power play production, I think. He certainly won’t have the versatility and endurance to replace all of Niedermayer’s ice time, but if Scott’s penalty kill can be absorbed by other defensemen (Shane Hnidy or Sean O’Donnell, perhaps), then I think the Ducks can avoid a huge dropoff in their blueline production.

Todd Bertuzzi: This is where things get complicated. In a good scenario, Bertuzzi could pick up Selanne’s slack on the top line; in a bad scenario, Bertuzzi is only good enough to pick up Penner’s slack on the second line. But for sure, he will not be able to replace both of them, and whichever one’s offense he cannot replace will have to be offset from within the organization (a tall order, especially if it’s Selanne’s production). Bertuzzi certainly has upside that could possibly replace Selanne, but it’s tough to know for sure until he sees some regular ice time.
Anyway, it’s clear looking at the players leaving and the replacements that Anaheim (in the absence of any future roster moves) is due for a drop-off; there’s just not enough talent coming back to replace the talent that is leaving. Of course, all this gets thrown out the window should either Selanne or Niedermayer decide to pick up the skates and start playing again, but in their absence, how much will the offense suffer? And how much will that affect results?

I don’t have a solid idea of how this season will turn out for Anaheim’s title defense, but this post gives an idea of what the on-ice obstacles will be. It certainly promises to be a revealing year for Anaheim, though, and while I can’t predict it very well, I’m still looking forward to it with eagerness.

Go Ducks.