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NHL Southern California Power Rankings: Week 4

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The Kings are led by their expendable squad while the Ducks have a lot in common with a movie about butt slugs.

It's movie week here at the power rankings! Each team gets a movie theme this week. Hope you've seen them!

First Place!

Los Angeles Kings (Last week: 2-0)

The Film: The Expendables

The Kings had a perfect week, going 2-0. They were led, as they have been most of the season, by their 3 expendable forwards: Jarret Stoll, Justin Williams and Ryan Smyth. The trio combined to create 3 goals and tallied 8 points in 2 games, all of them at even-strength. Not bad for 3 guys that many Kings fans wanted traded in the off-season.

Kings fans wanted Jarret Stoll gone because Brayden Schenn is almost ready to break into the NHL and Michal Handzus is a better defensive center. Kings fans wanted Ryan Smyth gone because he makes too much and his skills are depreciating. Kings fans didn't really want Williams gone, per se, but they weren't expecting him to do much of anything this season.

But training camp started and Stoll and Williams looked really, really good playing with one another, and then when Smyth started playing alongside them in the 4th game of the season the whole line took off. Smyth, Stoll and Williams are all over a point-a-game since they began skating together. The line works because of Williams: he skates the puck in and then he can either crash the net, cycle the puck or sneak in for a shot with equal aplomb. Stoll has been crashing the net much harder than he has in the past, forgoing his usual strategy of hanging up top looking for a shot, while Ryan Smyth has continued to work behind the net like he has his whole career.

It's funny: the Kings are the youngest team in hockey but it's the oldest forwards on the team that are really driving the bus right now. It's likely that one or maybe even two of these players will be gone next season because they're, well, expendable. For now, though, they're responsible for the Kings' great start.

Last Place!

Anaheim Ducks (Last week: 0-2)

The film: Dreamcatcher

I've never been more disappointed by a movie than I was with Dreamcatcher.

The cast? Tom Jane, Timothy Olyphant, Damian Lewis, Jason Lee, Donnie Wahlberg, Morgan Freeman, and pre-meltdown Tom Sizemore. That's amazing.

The director? Lawrence Kasdan, who directed Silverado and who wrote the best two Star Wars movies. Solid.

The writer? William Goldman, who wrote All the President's Men, The Princess Bride and Maverick. Fantastic.

There's no way a movie with that group behind it should be bad... unless, you know, the movie is about an alien that crawls up your butt.

I'm not lying, I swear that's what the movie is about.

The Ducks are Dreamcatcher but, you know, without the butt stuff. They have a solid lead cast (Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan, Koivu, Selanne, Visnovsky, Hiller), a proven coach (Randy Carlyle, former Norris winner and Stanley Cup champ), and a capable general manager (Bob Murray, former GM of the Blackhawks and Asst. GM of the Ducks when they won the Cup). You look at that group and you think, 'They may not be great but there's no way they can be that bad, right?' Well, apparently they can.

The Ducks lost 2 games last week, one a normal loss to a desperate team in the New Jersey Devils and the other... I'd say it's the worst loss of the Ducks' season, but that's sadly not the case. Anaheim lost 5-2 to the San Jose Sharks, but the score doesn't indicate just how badly the Ducks played. They were completely dominated for the first 40 minutes of the game, the Ducks had 11 shots. The Sharks had 38.

The Ducks have a brutal schedule this week, against the East-leading Tampa Bay Lightning, a Pittsburgh Penguin squad led by Sidney Crosby, the solid Nashville Predators, a Sharks team that just brutalized them, and to cap it off they play... oh, they just play the New York Islanders. That's not too bad. It's likely, though, that the Ducks could go 1-4 next week.

Apparently you can have a great cast, a good director and a smart writer and still be really, really bad.

Wednesday: Anaheim Ducks vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 PM

Thursday: LA Kings vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 PM

Friday: Anaheim Ducks vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 PM

Saturday: LA Kings vs. Nashville Predators, 7:00 PM

Sunday: Anaheim Ducks vs. Nashville Predators, 5 PM

Tuesday: Anaheim Ducks @ San Jose Sharks, 7:30 PM

Wednesday: Anaheim Ducks vs. New York Islanders, 7 PM