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Around the Pacific Division - L.A. Kings Claim the Throne

Thought we'd start something new this week on Defending Big D and continue it throughout the season. While we are focused on providing as extensive of coverage of the Dallas Stars as we possibly can, I think we can get a bit of tunnel vision and forget about the other teams we're racing with in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference.

This won't be anything extensive or super-analytical, just a roundup of what's going on in the world of each division team as well as a look at their standing relative to the Stars.

For something new and different, follow the jump.

Pacific Standings

Los Angeles 5 4 1 0 8
San Jose 6 3 2 1 7
Phoenix 5 3 2 0 6
Dallas 4 1 0 3 5
Anaheim 5 2 2 1 5

(updated 10.13.2009 at 8:39 AM EDT)

Can someone tell me what the heck is going on here? The Los Angeles Kings, after getting pounded in their opening night game, have roared out to four straight wins and sit atop the Pacific Division two weeks into the season. While we've thought the Kings were definitely a young team on the rise, it will be interesting to see how long they can sustain this momentum.

Los Angeles Kings; 1st in Pacific Division, 2nd in the West - Battle of California

The Kings have won with some timely goalscoring and some excellent goaltending. In some bizarre scheduling, the Kings dropped the Islanders in a matinee game that started at 8am here on the East Coast. Per Rudy Kelly the Kings just can't get any respect, along with their cross-town compatriots the Dodgers.

In both games, I think the Los Angeles team has been underrated. The Cardinals got all the pub because they had Carpenter and Wainwright and Pujols and Holliday, while to the rest of the world the Dodgers had only Manny and some other guys. While the Cardinals were rated highly because of their superstars, the Blues are rated highly because of their depth. And again, the Kings are pretty much dismissed as a being only a superstar (Kopitar) and some other guys. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I think for every Brad Boyes there's a Alex Frolov and for every David Backes there's a Dustin Brown. We even have our own douche bag injury-prone veteran (Ryan Smyth) to match theirs (Paul Kariya). They have Erik Johnson, we have Jack Johnson; they have Alex Pietrangelo, we have Drew Doughty. The only real difference between the two teams are the goaltenders (where I think St. Louis has a slight advantage) and in superstars, as the Blues don't have anyone like Kopitar. I think he'll be the difference tonight.

Kings Schedule

Next 5 Games

@ New York Rangers Wed 10/14 6:05 PM CDT
@ Detroit Thu 10/15 6:30 PM CDT
@ Columbus Sat 10/17 6:00 PM CDT
@ Dallas Mon 10/19 7:30 PM CDT
Dallas Thu 10/22 9:30 PM CDT

Last 5 Games

@ New York Islanders Mon 10/12 W 2 - 1
@ St. Louis Sat 10/10 W 2 - 1
Minnesota Thu 10/08 W 6 - 3
San Jose Tue 10/06 W 6 - 4
Phoenix Sat 10/03 L 3 - 6

Los Angeles Kings Injuries

No Injuries.

Leading Scorer:

2009 - Anze Kopitar 5 4 6 10 2 0 2 0 0 0 11 36.4

San Jose Sharks: 2nd in Pacific Division, 6th in the West - Fear The Fin

Things have been up and down for the Sharks so far this season, and some are questioning why Nabokov has started all six games so far this season when he's been struggling (sort of like Turco).

Mr. Plank of Fear The Fin talks about the banner raising this past weekend as the Sharks celebrated another division championship without any postseason success. Again.

The Sharks regular season success and subsequent playoff disappointments have been well-documented, and this has inevitably led to a lack of trust amongst the fanbase concerning how the organization presents itself publicly. Some want the team to continue to acknowledge these failures ad nauseam, in the hope that it will eventually motivate the players into breaking through during the postseason- call them the "History is our greatest teaching tool" group. Others point to the uncertainty of the NHL playoffs, and chalk it up to a combination of bad luck and injury issues- call them the "It's a new year" conglomerate.

Sharks Schedule

Next 5 Games

@ Washington Thu 10/15 6:00 PM CDT
@ New York Islanders Sat 10/17 6:00 PM CDT
@ New York Rangers Mon 10/19 6:00 PM CDT
@ Tampa Bay Thu 10/22 6:30 PM CDT
@ Atlanta Sat 10/24 6:00 PM CDT

Last 5 Games

Phoenix Mon 10/12 SO - L 0 - 1
Minnesota Sat 10/10 W 4 - 2
Columbus Thu 10/08 W 6 - 3
@ Los Angeles Tue 10/06 L 4 - 6
@ Anaheim Sat 10/03 W 4 - 1

San Jose Sharks Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Torrey Mitchell knee 09/30/2009

Leading scorer:

2009 - Dany Heatley 6 5 5 10 3 10 2 0 2 0 17 29.4

Phoenix Coyotes; 3rd in Pacific Division, 8th in the West - Five For Howling

Behind Dave Tippett, the Coyotes exploded to a 3-0-0 record right off the bat and Stars fans everywhere committed a simultaneous facepalm. Yet two straight losses brought the team back down to earth a bit, before a nice 1-0 shootout win over San Jose on Monday night.

What's great about this is that the Coyotes HAVE to be competitive to have any chance at all at succeeding in Phoenix. Tippett has done wonders with this team in a very short amount of time, and hopefully he can keep them going as the season progresses.

Unfortunately, the 'Yotes lost their home opener. It was in front of a capacity crowd however, which Odin Merver chronicles pre-game:

Tonight is the night. Home opener. Fans clad in all white. This is going to be awesome. The game officially sold out on Thursday, but some standing room only seats were on sale yesterday. Haven't heard if those too have now been sold out, but whatever. For all intensive purposes this game is sold out. Sure, it's at reduced prices, but so what? The Coyotes needed to get the building filled up. Get some new people interested. Get fans that had been pulled away by a bad on ice product with a new system that had us beating down the Penguins on Wednesday.I'm all kinds of excited for this game even if it is against the Blue Jackets who we have no rivalry with. That just means we won't be seeing may Jackets sweaters in the crowd and will be more partisan than usual.

Coyotes Schedule

Next 5 Games

St. Louis Thu 10/15 9:00 PM CDT
Boston Sat 10/17 8:00 PM CDT
Detroit Thu 10/22 9:00 PM CDT
Los Angeles Sat 10/24 8:00 PM CDT
@ New York Rangers Mon 10/26 6:00 PM CDT

Last 5 Games

@ San Jose Mon 10/12 SO - W 1 - 0
Columbus Sat 10/10 L 0 - 2
@ Buffalo Thu 10/08 L 1 - 2
@ Pittsburgh Wed 10/07 W 3 - 0
@ Los Angeles Sat 10/03 W 6 - 3

Phoenix Coyotes Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Kurt Sauer other-excused 10/13/2009

Leading Scorer:

2009 - Radim Vrbata 5 3 1 4 2 4 1 0 1 0 26 11.5

Anaheim Ducks; 5th in Pacific Division, 10th in the West - Anaheim Calling

I won't lie, it really felt good to see Anaheim get schelacked by the Rangers the other night.

Per Arthur of Anaheim Calling:

The Ducks were out of gas at the end of their road trip, dropping this afternoon's game in Madison Square Garden 3-0. Giguere pitched a gem through two, but was ultimately undermined by two third period penalties, one a roughing call to Whitney for putting Sean Avery in a headlock, the other a token Artyukhin call.

The freshest legs on the ice (other than Giguere's) belonged to Sheldon Brookbank, who dressed in place of a scratched Nick Boynton, and Brendan Mikkelson, who was called up from Toronto. Together, the two players were asked to eat the minutes of recent ice-time gormandizer James Wisniewski, whose shoulder was injured in last night's game against Philadelphia.

Ducks Schedule

Next 5 Games

Minnesota Wed 10/14 9:00 PM CDT
St. Louis Sat 10/17 9:00 PM CDT
Dallas Wed 10/21 9:00 PM CDT
Columbus Sat 10/24 9:00 PM CDT
Toronto Mon 10/26 9:00 PM CDT

Last 5 Games

@ New York Rangers Sun 10/11 L 0 - 3
@ Philadelphia Sat 10/10 SO - W 3 - 2
@ Boston Thu 10/08 W 6 - 1
@ Minnesota Tue 10/06 OT - L 3 - 4
San Jose Sat 10/03 L 1 - 4

Anaheim Ducks Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Todd Marchant undisclosed 10/12/2009

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
James Wisniewski shoulder 10/11/2009

Leading Scorer:

2009 - Corey Perry 5 2 3 5 1 6 0 1 0 0 16 12.5