While it's the last Stars game of 2013 and I'm loathe to give up my final chance to expound on the state of the universe, until next year anyway, I feel this is a worthy reason. John Carroll from the SB Nation blog Jewels from the Crown has deigned to give his thoughts (occasionally valid) on the Stars opponent tonight.
1. Goaltending has been a strength for the Kings this year, despite the majority of it being done by a backup and a call up. Rumor has it though that Jonathan Quick will be returning in the near future. Does this please you?
Wow thanks David for really starting me off with an easy one here. The short answer is: I don't know. When he went down to his groin injury in Buffalo way back in early November, Jonathan Quick was in the midst of his second straight underwhelming campaign. He had just a .905 sv% in 16 games at that point, which although quite terrible was still slightly better than the .902 sv% he had posted in 37 games with the Kings last year. Of course, in between those two godawful regular seasons was yet another strong playoff run- a .934 in 18 games, following up his insane .946 in 20 games during the Kings' Stanley Cup run- which is honestly just, weird? I don't buy into the frankly insane notion that Quick's playoff numbers represent some kind of special clutchiness gene, and so with every regular season game he plays without even approaching league average let alone those lofty numbers they start to look more and more like some kind of weird fluke. But on the other hand, while Martin Jones and Ben Scrivens have both performed admirably in Quick's absence, they've both started to look a little leaky of late (Scrivens definitely moreso). Jones did have a good outing against the Blackhawks last night coming off his first really poor one against your Stars, but Scrivens had a poor performance against the Predators, probably costing the Kings at least a point if not two in that game. So I don't know, I'm probably ready for Quick to come back and have a go at it again. Of course, I would rather see them send down Scrivens and not Jones and have more of a rotation between Quick & Jones, which almost certainly will not happen, but them's the breaks. If Quick comes back and immediately starts doing things like this again I reserve the right to go all Tonya Harding on his ass and put him back on the shelf again, though.
2. Set aside the stars of your team, who are the Garbutts and Roussels of the Kings? The players who find popularity locally, but aren't as well known outside of the fanbase? Love to hate or hate to love, whatever, sell me on the little guys.
You have to remember that the LA Kings fanbase is pretty insane and seems to love making jokes about our team almost as much as actually watching them succeed, so a dude like Trevor Lewis has become popular for not scoring. And I don't mean like "he rarely scores", I mean he literally *was never scoring* (he did finally have a single point- an assist!- in his 29th game of the year, again against your Stars in fact, before happily returning to his non-scoring ways in his next two games). Other than Lewis, Dwight King appears to have become popular mostly for making faces like this and the fact that his last name is #*!%ing King! I mean, can you imagine if the Stars had a player named Matt Star? How awesome would that be? And because Kings fans are so used to having no goalies at all (and it was especially bad for almost the entire 00s decade until Quick came along), seeing Scrivens & then Jones step in and at least briefly play so well in Quick's absence has made them quite popular as well.
3. The Pacific Division is kinda sorta really good this year, with the Battle of California teams being the core and probably the strongest top 3 of all the divisions. But then you also have Calgary and Edmonton. What are your thoughts on realignment? Annoyed at being in what will likely be the toughest division to emerge from? And be honest, do you ever miss the Stars as a division rival?
I actually enjoy the new realignment quite a bit. Being in a ridiculously tough division honestly doesn't phase me, as you of all people should know that's nothing new for the Kings. It's not like the old Pacific wasn't one of the toughest divisions in hockey for many of the past few seasons, after all. The Sharks & Ducks were both still there, the Stars were never really what I would call "bad" and even almost won the thing in 2012, and the Coyotes were shockingly great for the past few years. With apologies to your readers, removing Dallas and adding Vancouver obviously makes the division tougher, but I feel like it's almost balanced out by having the Oilers & Flames thrown in there too (now, if the Kings could just beat the damn Flames life would be perfect). I think the division is, on the whole, probably about equal with the Central. I would take our top four over your top four- the Blackhawks are great but the Blues seem to have problems with other elite Western teams (see: their recent history with the Kings/Sharks/Ducks/basically anyone not named the Blackhawks), the Avalanche are okay but not nearly as good as their record, and your Stars are on the upswing but probably not quite there yet. On the other hand, the Ducks/Sharks/Kings/Canucks quartet are all pretty terrifying, with the division-leading Ducks arguably being the weakest of the four (damn you, PDO!). Where the Central kind of redeems itself is that their bottom three of the Wild, Jets, & Predators are almost undoubtedly superior to the Pacific bottom three of the Coyotes, Flames, and Oilers, so I feel on balance the two divisions end up pretty close. It's the Western Conference- no matter what division you're in, it's basically a total crapshoot to actually make the playoffs. But getting to cover the division every week in my This Week in Kings feature over at Jewels (cheap plug, please read it thanks!) is great fun and really shows me just how deep and interesting this division is, so yes, I'm pretty happy with realignment. And no, I can't say I really miss the Stars, especially since you have a troubling habit of kicking our arses every time you come to Staples of late. Have fun in the Central. Don't forget to write.
4. And of course, how is Dustin Brown's knee recovering from that vicious hit by Hertl?
Dustin Brown claimed that it was the flu that caused him to miss the previous Kings-Stars game, but I think we all know it was really his knee acting up from that vicious hit thrown by that no-good little punk Tomas Hertl. Being the man of class and sportsmanship that we all know him to be, he simply didn't want Hertl to feel guilty over it, so he made up that story about the flu instead. Thankfully Brown has recovered in time to play in tonight's rematch with the Stars, and I'm sure your fans will give him the respect that a man of his fine moral caliber so obviously deserves.
And there you have it. Respect for Dustin Brown and, presumably, the rest of the Kings. We shall see how that goes. Cheers though to John for his thoughts on tonight's game, and don't hold any of it against him. It's not his fault he's a Kings fan.
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So last week we had the Conference III Festivus, and out of that came a new feature from our very own Obscene (and thus heavily filtered) Alex. Here I present you the first '[Redacted] Week in Review.' [III Communication]
We're halfway through the season, and thus starting to get a feel for the other teams in the Central Division. But what about the coaches? Mike Devine with an irreverent tour around Conference III, showing you who's behind the bench. [Cheer the Anthem]
I can't take the suspense! Name the Olympic teams already! [Sports Day DFW]
And on that subject, let's talk Canadian goaltenders. One of the most in-depth fancy statsy articles I've seen. And for that reason alone, worth a browse. Although a browse might not be enough to fully absorb it. [Sportsnet]
This one has a list of the best new sports logos this year, and the Stars are on it. But let's be honest, the real reason to read this article is for the worst new sports logos this year. The Appalachian State Mountaineers? Heck yes! Somebody buy me a t-shirt! [Sports Logos]
And lastly, we had to go an entire week without a new Down Goes Brown article. An entire week! Happily, that lack was remedied yesterday. [Grantland]