This is a weekly feature in which I’ll look at the performances and narratives of the teams in the Pacific Division.
After a big week, the Vegas Golden Knights have taken control of first place in the Pacific Division. And they’re actually playing well! Elsewhere, the Flames welcomed in a new goalie, a Canucks rookie joined impressive company, and the Oilers put their fans through an emotional rollercoaster.
The expansion Atlanta Thrashers won 14 of 82 games in 1999-2000.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) November 26, 2017
The expansion Vegas @GoldenKnights now have 15 wins in their first 22 games.
1st: Vegas Golden Knights
15-6-1 (31 points) / +15 goal differential /
I just don’t even know anymore. The Vegas Golden Knights won all three games they played last week, beating the Ducks, Sharks, and Coyotes, to extend their winning streak to five games. They’re now 15-6-1 on the season and sit in first place in the Pacific Division.
The wild thing about this is that the Golden Knights aren’t just inexplicably stumbling their way to victory. In all of their games on the winning streak, they’ve outshot their opponents, which wasn’t the case earlier on in the season.
2nd: Los Angeles Kings
13-8-3 (29 points) / +13 goal differential /
Since getting off to a hot start, the Kings have cooled in November. Last week, they went 1-1-1, with a win over Anaheim, a loss in regulation to the Jets, and an overtime win over Arizona. That win against the Coyotes was just their second win in their last nine games.
Goal scoring has been an issue for L.A. as of late, as they’ve scored more than two goals in a game just once over than nine-game span. That isn’t really all that surprising looking at the roster and it seemed inevitable the performances of high shooting percentage players like Adrian Kempe and Trevor Lewis would slow down.
The 25-year-old Rittich has a 5-1 record this season at AHL Stockton with a 2.17 GAA, .931 save percentage and a pair of shutouts. https://t.co/Qj5fY4Smuj— Wes Gilbertson (@WesGilbertson) November 24, 2017
3rd: Calgary Flames
13-9-1 (27 points) / -3 goal differential /
The Flames had another pretty good week and are continuing to climb up the Pacific Division standings. They went 2-1-1 last week, with wins over Washington and Colorado, a regulation loss to Dallas, and an overtime shutout loss to Columbus. The issue for Calgary, though, is that they can’t get any winning streaks going. They’ve gone 7-3-1 in November but haven’t had a streak this season longer than three games.
Part of that comes down to poor goaltending. The Flames waived Eddie Lack last week and he predictably cleared. Lack had a .813 save percentage in four appearances with the Flames and the team had to play Mike Smith more than they’d like because of it. David Rittich picked up a win in his first NHL game, saving 24 of 26 shots against the Avs. Either him or Jon Gillies being good in relief of Smith would be huge for the Flames moving forward.
4th: San Jose Sharks
12-8-2 (26 points) / +8 goal differential /
After a rough week, the Sharks pulled themselves together last week and apparently remembered how to score. They went 2-0-2, beating Arizona and Winnipeg and losing to Vegas and Anaheim in overtime and a shootout.
Prior to last week, the Sharks had a massive stretch where they scored more than two goals just once in nearly a month, but last week they exploded for four goals in back-to-back games. They’ve managed to climb up to 28th in the league in goals for rather than 31st, which is a step in the right direction.
In the entire 1st round of the 2015 NHL draft, only McDavid and Barzal have more points than Boeser. Not bad for 23rd over-all pick. #Canucks— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) November 22, 2017
5th: Vancouver Canucks
11-9-4 (26 points) / -2 goal differential /
The Canucks continued to grind last week with a 2-2-0 showing that featured back-to-back 5-2 wins over Philadelphia and Pittsburgh but back-to-back losses against the Devils and Rangers. They’re four games through a six-game road trip and after that they have a pretty light schedule.
The story for the Canucks has been the hot play of Brock Boeser who leads the team with 22 points in 21 games. Of players drafted in 2015, only Connor McDavid and Mat Barzal had better starts over their first 25 NHL games.
6th: Anaheim Ducks
10-9-4 (24 points) / -4 goal differential /
It seems the injuries are catching up to the Ducks. They went 1-2-1 last week and are sliding down the Pacific Division standings without Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf in the lineup. The worst showing they had was an absolute spanking by the Golden Knights in which they lost 4-2 but were outshot 49 to 19.
If not for the play of Ryan Miller (.950 SV%) and John Gibson (.923 SV%), the Ducks would be dead in the water by now. Still, all they’re looking to do is stay alive until their top two centres return to the lineup.
7th: Edmonton Oilers
9-13-2 (20 points) / -15 goal differential /
It was a rollercoaster of a week in Edmonton. The Oilers got pounded 8-2 by the Blues for their worst loss of the season, rebounded with a great 6-2 win in Detroit, but then went on to lose to the terrible Buffalo Sabres 3-1. They capped things off with a 4-2 win over the Bruins and ultimately had a decent 2-2 week.
Still, the Oilers can’t seem to get any momentum going. They’ve won back-to-back games just once this season and badly need a winning streak to climb back into contention.
8th: Arizona Coyotes
6-17-3 (15 points) / -31 goal differential /
The Coyotes went 2-2 last week. It was highlighted by a 4-1 win in Toronto that capped off a perfect, three-win trip through Eastern Canada. Still, they’re very bad and sit in last place in the Western Conference. But they’re only five points back of the Oilers!