It feels like only yesterday we Q&A'd with Ryan Dunn of Battle of California fame about the Los Angeles Kings. And now here we are, facing the Kings again. Game 3 against LA, in a season series of 3, so after tonight you can say goodbye to Dustin Brown and his merry band until the Western Conference Finals. Assuming the Kings make it that far.
Twenty games into the season the Kings are doing pretty well. The Stars? Still, umm... finding their way. We invited John Carroll of Jewels from the Crown to refresh our memories regarding his team, before we forget about them for the remainder of the regular season.
Our questions, his answers:
1. Let's start with the macroscopic view. The Kings typically tank their way through the regular season, allowing Anaheim and San Jose to finish at the top of the division and then rounding out the 1-2-3 Battle of Cali themselves. That's all fine, but what on earth are Vancouver and Calgary doing in the mix this year? Is that going to continue to be a thing? An actually semi-competitive Pacific Division?
Vancouver has played four games against the Oilers already this season. Like every other team from the good conference who played the Oilers this season, they won every single one of them. That's almost a third of their total victories on the season (they have 13). So like, you know, grain of salt, I think.
Also on a slightly more analytical note, the Canucks are currently sitting at 50.33% Corsi for the season at evens. While that's good, that's actually a bit of a drop from where they were even last season, nevermind their peak. So I think it's okay to still be kind of skeptical that the Canucks will be in the mix for the division lead at the end of the year. I think it really will likely come down to the Kings and the Ducks (with the Sharks as a dark horse if they can actually get it together), and I guess you should probably give a slight edge to the Ducks at this point. The Canucks will have a good shot to make the playoffs, but I think it will likely be as either the 3rd seed in the Pacific or a Wild Card team.
With that said, Vancouver is the most for real/not-at-all-a-fluke team of all time next to the Calgary Flames, they of the 43.74% 5v5 Corsi. The Flames are basically this year's answer to the 13-14 Avalanche, except probably even worse because unlike Colorado I doubt they have a ton of natural shooting talent. They are likely going to plummet hard at some point. Though if they want to keep fluking their way all the way to a playoff spot and a 1st round matchup with the Kings, I would be a-okay with that.
2. Has Dustin Brown's skating gotten any better recently, or does he still fall down all the time?
Dustin Brown sucks and I'm really tired of talking about him. [Ed. note: This is an excellent answer. Thank you John]
3. Jonathan Quick is doing pretty great this season. And by pretty great, I mean he leads all starting goaltenders in save percentage. Now, I'm not saying a .938 save percentage is unsustainable, but a .938 save percentage is unsustainable. Is he peaking too early? Will he suck this year by the time playoffs roll around?
Goaltending is so random man, I don't know. Yes, a .938 is completely unsustainable.....most of the time. In 2011-12 he finished the regular season with a .929 sv% (which, granted, would still be a drop from .938 but would also still be an excellent, Vezina-quality season), and more importantly followed that up with a .946 sv% in the playoffs (you may recall that season ended pretty well for us, I think). The next year he had a .902 sv% in the shortened regular season but a .934 sv% in the playoffs. In 13-14, he was slightly below league average at .915 and then horrendous for three straight rounds; even a very good Stanley Cup Final only got his overall playoff sv% back up to .911.
So basically, I have no idea. As I said, goaltending is super-random, and I would hypothesize that Quick's crazy-aggressive-crab-man style makes him even *more* random. He does have one recent example of an excellent regular season and then an even better playoff, so I'm not willing to say it's out of the realm of possibility. Also worth noting: his even-strength sv% was actually pretty decent last year during the regular season at least, but his overall sv% was sunk by very poor performances while the Kings were shorthanded. There's been plenty written about how penalty kill goaltending is even *more* random and, more importantly, highly team dependent. So the fact that his even strength numbers were better than his overall numbers was a good sign he could bounce back from that .915. Anyway, I guess pencil me in for something like "he finishes the regular season somewhere between .920 and .930, then has a better playoff than last year".
4. Rich Peverley, for some obscure reason, is occasionally referred to as Raptor Jesus. Tell me though, how did Anze Kopitar wind up with the nickname Raccoon Jesus? Did it have anything to do with Don Cherry?
No, I don't think it does. As far as I know it's just because he's fantastic at hockey (and "saved" the Kings, to a degree) and his face looks kind of like a raccoon. If I'm hilariously wrong here I'm sure someone will tell me all about it, probably on Twitter.
5. Where would you set the over/under on games played this season for Marian Gaborik?
60, and take the under.
6. And lastly, tonight the Dallas Stars honor Mike Modano for his Hall of Fame induction. What's your favorite Modano memory?
Personally I'll always remember him as a Detroit Red Wing. What a career he had. Motown Mike, that's what I like to call him. [Ed. note: I have no idea what John is referring to here.]
Oh, and hey, while I have your readers' attention: David will be making his WORLDWIDE RADIO DEBUT for Monday night's Jewelcast, the podcast we run over at Jewels from the Crown, and you can listen live or even call in and say hi! Catch him next Monday night over at the Jewelcast page, probably around 9:30 eastern: http://blogtalkradio.com/jewelcast/ [Ed. note: I'm not sure why I agreed to this. I must have been drunk at the time.]