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Kings Gameday: What the hell happened?

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The Flames make sense now sorta

uh Drew, I think Mersch has got him.
uh Drew, I think Mersch has got him.
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 NHL season was an odd one. Sure, the Blackhawks were good, and sure the Oilers were bad. But those have been the sunrise/sunset scenarios for the league since like 2009. The NHL had left behind the weird years of having bizarre unwatchable finals of small market sunbelt expansion teams playing against made up cities in Canada. But then 2015 happened.

The defending champions in Los Angeles missed the playoffs.

The supposedly reloaded Dallas Stars missed the playoffs.

The Sharks who had been every year for over a decade missed the playoffs.

The Boston Bruins, who had been there every season since 2008 and had a Cup and another finals appearance under the belt, missed the playoffs.

Instead the Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks, and Calgary Flames all made it. Only one of them survived the first round, and that was because SOMEONE had to win between Vancouver and Calgary. The Jets were the only Canadian team playing an American team in that first round and they didn't even win a game. So of these four teams, Calgary survived, met up with Anaheim, won once, and left.

Thankfully the universe seems to be righting itself by dismissing Canada entirely (including the once decent Canadiens who half the time decry themselves as separate from Canada anyways). The Kings and Sharks sit comfortably in a playoff spot in the Pacific. The Stars finally do look reloaded. The Bruins still sorta suck, but the Eastern conference is sort of a crap-shoot (minus Canada of course) so they will probably make the playoffs.

For the Jets it made sense. They were a lousy team, didn't improve themselves, and now face the reality of "oh yeah, we suck. Whoops". Vancouver keeps slowly sliding down towards bottom of the league like a glacier down a mountain, except along the way the glacier rolls over whoopee-cushions providing cheap laughs for us all. The Senators were discovered to not actually exist. But what about Calgary?

Of all the Canadian teams, Montreal included, Calgary actually made real moves to improve themselves and could have potentially been a dangerous team on the rise (unlike, say, the Oilers). They had a young forward core, and picked up a seemingly good defenseman to go along with a few other standouts. They had been an exciting team last year, with the "coach of the year" leading them. Except they had what happened to every not-so-good logic defying hockey team happen to them.

Their coach, like essentially every Jack Adams winner before him, was actually an incompetent buffoon who was riding a hot team improbably towards mild success. Their goaltending revealed itself to be mediocre at best. The forward core couldn't keep up the blistering pace and last minute heroics they had previously provided. Dougie Hamilton actually sucked.

The year before was seemingly a mirage. The problem is, when you have mild success, even when it's improbable, is that you keep at the system that made it happen. Even if that system was actually doomed to fail. It worked once! Why wouldn't it work again? Sure there have been other factors contributing to the Flames' current fall from grace. Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, and David Jones, who were bad last season, hung around to stink up the place again. Wideman then decided to kill a ref, blamed it on a head injury, and his team never decided to take him out of the game.

The three headed...I wouldn't call it a monster but maybe a freakish earthworm, that Calgary had in net with Jonas Hiller, Joni Ortio, and Karri Ramo was, wait for it, unreliable. Surprising, I know. I suppose someone could have informed Bob Hartley he couldn't start all three at once. Johnny Gaudreau couldn't save his team, because his school's truancy officer finally caught up to him.

Honestly, I am disappointed. It gets tiring seeing California dominate, as right as that feels. Having the Albertan interloper trying to shake things up was sorta exciting, even when it came at the expense of the Kings. Because hey, it happened to the Sharks too so it's still sorta funny. You guys aren't even nearly as obnoxious as your northern brethren in Vancouver and Edmonton. And god knows the Oilers aren't capable of doing shit, and the Canucks sucking is far more enjoyable. But this year, with California right back where they belong, Calgary appears to have blown its chance. Instead we get to deal with Colorado possibly in the playoffs, which is ironic seeing as Calgary is essentially the Avalanche v.2.

flames preview

The Grammy trip is over. Thank god. All it cost the Kings was injuring their starting goalie, losing their most offensively skilled winger, and their top line center. While it appears Anze Kopitar is coming back, quite possibly tonight, and Jonathan Quick seems to be back fully, this season is already on the verge of wrapping up. While I fully pessimistically believe the Ducks will probably win the division setting up another Sharks/Kings series, the Kings really don't seem in danger of falling out of the playoffs this year.

Of course that could still happen, and I'd be free of binge drinking through April and possibly May and June, I don't expect it. If Kopitar is still hurting, rest him. If Quick needs a breather, go with Enroth. If Drew Doughty has been playing twenty minutes through the first half of the game, maybe ease up. Anyways, I'll probably be chugging whiskey this Spring regardless.

Prediction: Dougie Hamilton scores a hat trick. Johnny Gaudreau cheers but is chastised by his parents for not focusing on his spelling test tomorrow. Kings lose 4-2.