Everything Else

In a way I feel kinda bad for Dion Phaneuf because he got out-douchebagged by Sean Avery, who, if there were a Douchebag de Jour Hall of Fame, would definitely be a first-ballot candidate. No one should have to listen to that piece of human trash insult them or their significant other. BUT THAT’S NOT WHY YOU CALLED. Phaneuf qualifies for douchebag status simply because he’s an albatross. He’s never lived up to the hype that he generated in his first season, and while I can’t blame the guy for taking a big payday (I would do it in a nanosecond and anyone who says otherwise is a liar), I can blame him for generally sucking.

Phaneuf was hailed like he was the second coming when he broke into the league with the Flames way back when in 2005. He was a BIG BODY and fooled everyone by scoring 20 goals that year. Yes he managed to rack up impressive points for the first couple years, but by the time he hit the quarter-century mark the precipitous decline had begun.

It just proves how many morons really run teams in this league that Phaneuf could pull in a 7-year, $49 million contract from the Leafs in 2014, and that the Senators would be like, “sure, sounds like a great deal” just a couple years later. And that Rob Blake would say nearly the same damn thing this year—although at the very least he got Ottawa to eat a quarter of that salary, proving just how badly the Senators wanted to move him.

As I said, the contract isn’t Phaneuf’s fault, but for a guy who costs that much it’d be nice if at least his possession numbers would be on the positive side (they’re not), or perhaps his giveaways-to-takeaways wouldn’t scald your eyeballs (they do). I’m not even suggesting that as a defenseman he needs to keep up the scoring of his very early years, but jesus at least pull off the basic aspects of your job description. He’s been skating by on an undeserved reputation for years (SEE WHAT I DID THERE), and that’s only going to get worse as he ages.

Possibly the funniest part of all this is that other players don’t fall for any “he’s a leader” bullshit, going so far as to vote him the Most Overrated Player in 2010. Granted, that was eight years ago (good lord I’m old), but his play and the contract drama of the intervening years have done nothing to reverse that perception at least with multiple fanbases—I can’t say what the players may still think. And yes, those were apoplectic Canadian fanbases, but American ones are onto him too.

All Phaneuf has going for him on a Kings team with better defensemen than him is to remind himself that the front office hates Marion Gaborik even more than his dumbass contract. He’s a slow, oafish defenseman with an absurdly large contract and that’s what he’ll remain…we wouldn’t have any idea what that’s like, would we?

 

Game #65 Preview

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Trying to sum this game up is going to be kinda hard. It’d be way easier if the Hawks played real well and just missed on some chances, or even if they played like absolute trash. Instead, they just looked like they didn’t wanna be there, like how you feel when you’re sitting at work wondering if your job is even that important. And who’s to say? To the bullets:

– I can confidently say one thing that I couldn’t stop noticing in this game is how fuckin’ bad Jordan Oesterle is, which is really a theme at this point and not exclusive to just this game. The first Kings goal was maybe a little questionable because of some maybe-goalie-interference, but Oesterle did nothing to help Forsberg out by standing right in his line of sight and screening the absolutely life out of him. Then later, in the second period I watched Oesterle stand still as a damn statue in the middle of his own zone before getting absolutely toasted in a foot race the other way, which resulted in a 2-on-1 for the Kings. They didn’t convert, but it was just embarrassing to watch, and I kinda wish they had just because it would’ve made that whole play more of a focal point on Oesterle’s part. No matter how much he fucks up he seems to be bulletproof in Q’s eyes right now, while Connor Murphy can’t get more than a third pair assignment and Michal Kempny just got shipped out for a lottery ticket cuz he couldn’t get a fair shake either. Fuck this.

– Q went after the Toews-Kopitar matchup for most of the night, and it saw some success. Toews posted a nice 57.69% CF at 5v5 tonight, which was about a point and a half above team rate. That team number got inflated by some score effects after LA went up 3-0, so I think in reality Toews won that battle very convincingly. I don’t really know what that’s worth, but it just felt like something sorta noteworthy, I guess.

– The worst part about this game was that the Kings worst players pretty much proved to be the difference makers. They got goals from Torey Mitchell, Andy Adreoff, and Dion Phaneuf. Those goals were the fourth, third, and fifth tallies for the scorers this year, respectively. That’s just frustrating to me. I am firmly on the “tank” team at this point, if you wanna call it that, but getting beat by another team’s scrubs is very disheartening. Then again, this team almost lost to Glendale by a touchdown, so nothing is beyond them I guess.

– I don’t really wanna write much more about this one, to be honest. The Blackhawks clearly did not care about this one – why should I?

– The Hawks are back it at home against Ottawa on Wednesday. Hope and pray that one is a chance for Stan to scout EK65 before managing a miracle trade for him to solve all of our problems (I CAN BE OPTIMISTIC, OKAY). Meanwhile LA heads to Winnipeg for a game tomorrow night. Wish them luck on their travels, as they have to take the bus because Winnipeg doesn’t have an airport.

Everything Else

We found @atf13atf digging through our trash one day. Not for food, just because it was his thing. Turned out he was a Kings fan. As all the other Kings fans wouldn’t piss on us if we were on fire, he’ll have to do. 

Dion Phaneuf?

Last week’s blockbuster trade with Calgary for Dion Phaneuf boosts an already strong defense featuring Drew Doughty, Matt Greene, and Rob Scuderi. Just over a year removed from being the Norris Trophy runner-up, Phaneuf turns the Kings from a team just sneaking into the playoffs into a legitimate threat. In fact, all of the Kings’ acquisitions this year have been home runs. Coming into the Olympic break, both Mike Cammalleri and Jussi Jokinen have 26 goals in 60 games. Even Phaneuf has scored 10 himself. It seems unlikely that the Kings would pass San Jose or Phoenix, but if they come in hot as a lower seed, they could be an early roadblock to the Blackhawks’ effort to return to the Western Conference Final.

What do you mean the Kings traded Cammalleri FOR Jokinen? And then lost Jokinen on waivers? They got Phaneuf from Ottawa and he sucks now? No Olympic break this year? The Blackhawks are 11 points out and there’s a team in Vegas? Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in 2010 anymore.

 The Kings have gone 6-11-0 since the turn of the year. What went off the boil?

Start 9-2. Follow by going 1-7. Win six in a row, then get swept out of the New York Metropolitan Area. Lose six in a row to start the new year, bookend the All-Star Break with a pair of Jonathan Quick dodgeball tryouts. Pass Go and collect free wins against Glendale and Edmonton, lose narrowly to Stanley Cup contenders in Tampa and Pittsburgh, while giving up a touchdown to Carolina in between. Add a few wins against Atlantic Division bottom-feeders, and some losses to Pacific rivals here and there, and you have the entire Kings season. It’s been a trip.

 

Are the Kings in the same spot with Drew Doughty that the Senators are with Karlsson? IF he won’t sign they have to move him, right?

As of right now, the Kings seem fully ready to park the Brinks truck in Doughty’s driveway, and he seems fully ready to sign for the delivery. If he ever left Los Angeles, he would probably need to find a new lawyer or three, among other things.

 

Things kind of went south on Alex Iafallo, didn’t they?

He started off the year looking fast, but shooting a hair over one percent. He finally broke through for a second goal around the start of December, before racking up minuses and eventually taking a few healthy scratches around the new year. In the past month, Iafallo is back to playing 15 minutes a night and has scored four goals with three assists.

 

What’s been the key to Kopitar’s bounce-back season? Hawks fans would be particularly interested in the answer…

Last season, Anze Kopitar started slow coming off a busy September with an Olympic qualifier for Slovenia and playing for Team Europe in the World Cup Of Hockey. On November 11, with only eight points in 15 games, Kopitar injured his hand in a game against Ottawa and kept quiet about it. A few months ago, Kings president Luc Robitaille described the effects of the injury on Kopitar: “He couldn’t shoot for three months. That hurt his numbers. The goals weren’t there because he couldn’t shoot.” The numbers back it up: four goals from the injury through February, and six goals in 19 games to close out the year.

 

Blackhawks fans better hope it’s that simple.

 

Where do the Kings go from here? If they miss the playoffs then it’s Blowup City, right?

At the risk of hoping the team doesn’t put too much stock into a four-game sample before the deadline (at Chicago and Winnipeg, home against Dallas and Edmonton), it’s still entirely up in the air. The Kings don’t really have a great stock of pending UFAs to sell, unless someone really wants Darcy Kuemper for some reason, so it would have to be a bigger piece (Muzzin? Martinez?). Of course, their huge acquisition might cost nothing: Jeff Carter, whose last game was the night of the most recent Cubs win, is set to rejoin the team at practice this week once the road trip ends.

 

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It’s only his first year in the GM’s chair on Figueroa, but Blake’s deadline push-in for Dion Phaneuf doesn’t bode well for Kings fans.

Dion Phaneuf has always been massively overrated. Hockey GMs and media have always been distracted by the noisy things he does. He makes big hits, he takes big slappers, he yells at his teammates a lot convincing them he’s a leader. It’s the kind of thing you always hear about in the sport.

But Phaneuf has never driven play. He’s never helped his team create more chances than they give up. It’s been six years since he scored more than 31 points, or more than 10 goals. He’s not really an offensive weapon, and he’s never been all that good defensively. You think you hate Brent Seabrook…

And the Kings problem has always been they’re slow. They used to play slow under Sutter, they want to play faster under John Stevens, but only Doughty and Martinez can really go anywhere. How does Phaneuf help the Kings keep up with Vegas or Nashville or Winnipeg in the first round, all possible opponents who can really move? He’s just going to have that same confused gape on his face he had in Calgary, Toronto, and Ottawa when none of those teams really went anywhere.

In addition, Blake has now taken on his ridiculous contract. He’s signed until 2021 when he’ll be 36. That’s a boat anchor.

Lastly, Phaneuf is the kind of player that quite simply is being phased out of the game. All d-men have to be able to move and get up and join the play now. Even if you’re a “stay-at-home” guy, you have to be able to win races and open yourself up to pass out of the zone. Phaneuf can’t do that at 32. How’s that going to look at 34?

Whatever, not our problem.

Game #60 Preview

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Corsica

Sometimes you want something so badly that you become fixated on it, you turn the image or idea over and over in your mind, and eventually you build it up into a magnificence that’s totally out of proportion. And when you finally get it, the reality can’t possibly live up to your imagined ideal, and the chasm between desire and result is painfully clear. I am happy to report this situation did NOT happen tonight with my defensive pairing fantasy-turned-reality of Kempny-Murphy while Seabrook sat in the press box. Let’s get right to it:

– I was, dare I say, elated to hear that Seabrook was getting sat tonight. No, I don’t hate him—in fact I have an inordinate amount of affection for anyone on the Cup-winning teams (I know, I know, I’ve bashed him all season but you’ve got to believe me). So honestly, I felt pangs of guilt over how happy I was. And I still feel some now over how happy I am with the defensive play tonight generally. Yes, Rutta got de-pantsed by Duchene in the first, yes, he and Foreskin were scrambling like meth-addled gerbils in the second which led to the first Senators goal, but we knew they were going to pull shit like that. What I care about was that Michal Kempny and CONNOR MURPHY! had, respectively, a 71 and 69 CF% (NICE). Two of the Hawks’ goals included assists by both defensemen on the ice at the time. This was a defense I could live with, even if I’m still confused by Forsling-Rutta (whatever). As my esteemed colleague Adam mentioned earlier today on Twitter, we can make fun of Seabrook and still think good things about him. I’ll be thinking of warm fuzzy memories while he enjoys nachos from the comfort of the press box (fingers crossed).

– Wtf where has this power play been? The Hawks scored three—count ’em three—power play goals tonight, which I’m pretty sure ties their pp goals for the season. Schmaltz had two of them, which more than made up for his rather dismal possession numbers (25 CF%?? Hey, you get a pass tonight, pal!). All the way around, they had better traffic in front of the net, and while the Senators’ PK definitely blows (28th in the league), the Hawks power play actually blows worse (29th). So if this is what it takes to get some creativity and confidence on the man advantage, so be it. Better they’re the punching bag than us.

– I know there’s been a lot of chatter about the Hawks somehow waving a magic salary cap wand and getting Erik Karlsson at the trade deadline, and the merits of this idea are best saved for another time and place, but I can’t get over his dejection at taking a needless interference penalty in the second which led to Rutta’s goal. Karlsson finished the night with a 63.9 CF% so it wasn’t all doom and gloom—he just pulled a great Denis Lemieux.

– Speaking of Ottawa defensemen, I truly forgot that Dion Phaneuf was still in the league. I found he’s still a useless oaf, and I hope he goes away soon.

– Patrick Kane had five points tonight, and apparently that’s the first time he’s done that, which seems odd. It would have been better if Schmaltz had gotten a hat trick instead of Kane getting the 8th goal in the third period, but isn’t this a nice thing to be complaining about?

– Anton Forsberg was solid again tonight. He finished with a .926 SV%, and I couldn’t even hold the first goal against him. The Senators had about 35 chances while Forsling and Rutta do what they do in the defensive zone, and Mark Stone eventually capitalized after about 17 of those 35 chances. Forsberg made key saves when he needed to and he looked confident and well-positioned. Keep it going, guy.

You couldn’t ask for more than a DLR when going through a rapid sequence of games right before the bye week. It’s not only that points are important, which they most certainly are, but the Hawks also need to take advantage on nights like this and beat shitty opponents (check), and some momentum through this week when they’re facing the Jets in a few days definitely helps too. Also, you can’t tell me it’s a coincidence that on the night when the entire team sees that membership in the Circle of Trust actually has limits, they explode like a pimple and score eight goals. Yes, the Senators suck, but the Hawks have played plenty of shitty teams and not had a DLR.

On that note, I’d just like to point out that the last DLR this season was game #1, when I was doing the wrap, and now at the halfway point of the season, as I’m writing the wrap, they do it again. Clearly it’s me, so you’re all welcome.

Beer of the night: Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ by Lagunitas

 

 

Everything Else

We don’t know where exactly we found @Brian5or6. That’s the case with most of our friends. We just ended up this way. Anyway, you can read his stuff at Brian5or6.com. 

 

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 at 

Game Time: 6:30PM CDT
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Justin Trudeau Is A Fucking Con Man: Silver Seven

Given that the Hawks have been hockey monarchy for going on a decade now, with President/Cardinal John McDonough fancying himself its emperor, it’s probably best that they missed being on the Senate Floor in Kanata on the Ides of March by a day. Either way, the Hawks make their way further due southwest along the St. Lawrence seaway to the “capital” of the “nation” of Canada to take on a Sens squad that shockingly still has plenty to play for.

Everything Else

 

Canadian_maple_leaf_2-1 @ oldschool

Game Time: 6:00PM Central
TV/Radio: CBC, NHLN, WGN/WGN720
46 Years And Counting: Pension Plan Puppets, Down Goes Brown (kinda)

Well clearly, the biggest story coming into this game is the return of our old friend, Fabulous Weapon and potential psychopath himself, Dave Bolland. Drafted 32nd overall in the 2004 draft by the Hawks, Bolland was an integral part of the 2010 team, coming alive in the playoffs to become a major shutdown force and overall annoying pest to the Sedins and exhibitionist in waiting Joe Thornton. After a disappointing season last year capped off with the incredible game winner in Game 6, it came as no shock to see the rat shipped out of town. He landed in Toronto where he seems to have settled in pretty well. He’s got 6 points in three games, mostly skating on the Leafs third line.

And somehow, the Leafs actually find themselves in damn good standings so early into this season. They’re tied with Detroit for first place in their division and trail only Pitt and San Jose for the overall NHL lead. How is this possible? Fuck if I know.

Everything Else

 

Canadian_maple_leaf_2-1 @ oldschool

Game Time: 6:00PM Central
TV/Radio: CBC, NHLN, WGN/WGN720
46 Years And Counting: Pension Plan Puppets, Down Goes Brown (kinda)

Well clearly, the biggest story coming into this game is the return of our old friend, Fabulous Weapon and potential psychopath himself, Dave Bolland. Drafted 32nd overall in the 2004 draft by the Hawks, Bolland was an integral part of the 2010 team, coming alive in the playoffs to become a major shutdown force and overall annoying pest to the Sedins and exhibitionist in waiting Joe Thornton. After a disappointing season last year capped off with the incredible game winner in Game 6, it came as no shock to see the rat shipped out of town. He landed in Toronto where he seems to have settled in pretty well. He’s got 6 points in three games, mostly skating on the Leafs third line.

And somehow, the Leafs actually find themselves in damn good standings so early into this season. They’re tied with Detroit for first place in their division and trail only Pitt and San Jose for the overall NHL lead. How is this possible? Fuck if I know.