Photo credit:Calgary Flames
Pacific Power Rankings, Week 13: A look between the pipes to start 2024
1 month ago
Happy New Year and welcome to the 2024 portion of the Pacific Power Rankings! We hope all of our readers had a safe and relaxing winter break and are ready for a great year of hockey.
We have a lot to look forward to in 2024 including a new and improved All-Star Game, what should be an exciting trade deadline, and of course, a Stanley Cup champion to be crowned later this spring. We’ll have you covered of what’s happening within the Pacific Division all the way through to the end of the regular season.
To get us kicked off this calendar year, we’re going to take a look at the goaltending position for each team in the division. There’s a lot of storylines throughout the division in between the pipes including some players stepping up and taking the reigns due to injuries, some young stars looking to be the next “guy” in net, and some looking to make their case as a trade target on March 8.
Let’s dive in to this weeks edition of the Pacific Power Rankings:
All stats collected from Natural Stat Trick
1. Vancouver Canucks (26-11-3, 55 points)
Last rankings: 3 (+2)
Record last week: 3-1-0
Vancouver finished the week four points clear of the Golden Knights for first in the division with 55 on the year so far after taking down the high flying New York Rangers in a showdown on Broadway last night and they look hungry to solidify themselves as a true contender this year.
The stars are still doing their thing as J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes, and Elias Pettersson became the first Canucks trio to record at least 50 points each through 40 games of the season. They will probably need to still add a piece or two if they want to make a serious run but if they can keep doing what they are doing, winning the division might not be as crazy as it sounded at the beginning of the year.
The tandem of Thatcher Demko and Casey DeSmith has been nothing short of spectacular this year including Demko putting up Vezina-esque numbers through his first 29 starts. The Canucks duo have allowed the fifth lowest amount of goals so far this and are probably only second to the Bruins dynamic goaltending as a tandem.
2. Los Angeles Kings (20-10-6, 46 points)
Last rankings: 2 (-)
Record last week: 0-2-1
The Los Angeles Kings are currently on a bit of a slide, dropping their last five games dating back to December 28. Keep in mind that within this stretch of losses included a three game set against Vegas, Edmonton, and Toronto, so the talent level on the other side has been high.
One thing I am a little worried about for the Kings is their offensive stats during their current struggles. They have only scored 10 goals during the losing streak and the shooting percentage is at a measly 5.65 percent. Given the talent and depth on the roster you have to think this is a temporary cold spell, but the scoring needs to get going if they want to limit the damage.
Cam Talbot is still making it happen in between the pipes and that has earned him a selection as an All-Star for the Pacific Division in Toronto. News broke on Saturday that second option Pheonix Copley is now out for the remainder of the season due to ACL surgery. David Rittich has stepped in as the back-up and through three games has fared well with a 1.26 goals against average and a .926 save percentage.
3. Vegas Golden Knights (23-12-5, 51 points)
Last rankings: 1 (-2)
Record last week: 1-1-0
An early season juggernaut, the Vegas Golden Knights have also really struggled as of late, going 3-7-0 over their last 10 games. Injuries aren’t helping the Knights get back on track with William Karlsson now out week-to-week, William Carrier “miss[ing] some time” according to head coach Bruce Cassidy, and Zach Whitecloud is sidelined short term with a upper body injury in addition to some previously existing injuries.
Like the Kings, the Knights are also in the midst of a lack of scoring during their 10 game skid. The team sits 23rd in the league in goals for over that stretch of games. Things aren’t going to get easier this week as Colorado and Boston are next on the schedule for a back-to-back on Wednesday and Thursday.
Adin Hill looks like he is nearing a return after missing 15 games as he skated with the team during Friday’s practice for the first time since he was sidelined. While Logan Thompson has handled the brunt of the work for his squad in the absence of Hill, posting a .903 SV%, the Knights are really missing their number one netminder who before the injury had a .933 SV% and 8.55 goals saved above expected.
4. Edmonton Oilers (20-15-1, 41 points)
Last rankings: 5 (+1)
Record this week: 2-0-0
The streaking Edmonton Oilers are once again on another lengthy win streak, this time currently riding a seven game heater. Connor McDavid is doing the inevitable and working his way back up the points leaderboard while the new system has seemed to clean up some of their defensive miscues from earlier on. This team is still stacked and very much in the mix for the playoffs with still quite a bit of season to keep climbing up the standings.
We all know the issues that the Oilers have ran into with Jack Campbell getting moved down to the minors so we are going to sideline that for now. In more positive news, it looks like second year goaltender Stuart Skinner is settling in and giving the Oilers some consistent goaltending, something they have been searching for since game one. Skinner is currently riding a five game streak of his own is which he has stopped 30+ in three of them. His .898 save percentage should climb above the .900 mark over the next few weeks if he can continue in his current rhythm.
Ken Holland and the Oilers will still be in the market for some more reliability in the goaltending position come the trade deadline, but with the lack of goalies currently on the market, it’ll take a big swing for them to land a veteran goalie with a bit more playoff experience than Skinner.
5. Seattle Kraken (16-14-9, 41 points)
Last rankings: 6 (+1)
Record this week: 1-0-0
It was about as slow a week as you could get for the Seattle Kraken as the only game they played this week came in the fashion of a 4-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators. The Kraken have been rolling as of late, running their current win streak to six with the win over Ottawa and 10 straight games of picking up at least a point.
With their recent surge, the Kraken have put themselves right back in the playoff conversation. Currently tied for the second Wild Card spot at 41 points with Edmonton and St. Louis, the Kraken are looking like they are returning to the four line machine that found themselves in a surprise playoff position last season.
Kraken goaltender Joey Daccord has been the most recent in the stretch of feel good stories coming out of the NHL. With Philipp Grubauer on the IR, Daccord has been brilliant filling in as the number one option. He currently sits fifth in the league in goals against average (2.29) and is tied for fourth in save percentage (.922), including the first shutout in Outdoor Classic history on New Years Day against the Golden Knights.
6. Calgary Flames (17-18-5, 39 points)
Last rankings: 4 (-2)
Record this week: 2-2-0
This week, the Calgary Flames cracked the .500 mark for the first time since mid-October with a 6-3 win over the Nashville Predators. However, in what seems to be a never ending battle with an even record, the Flames have now dropped their last two on back-to-back days, including a tough 4-3 loss to the Connor Bedard-less Blackhawks.
There’s still a lot to like with the Flames team as they lead the league in third period comebacks and compete hard in every game but unfortunately that hasn’t translated into the results the group is looking for. Flames fans still look forward to the trade deadline as has been a highly discussed topic throughout the season, but until then, it doesn’t look like the Flames have the game breaking talent that will pull them back into the race.
Jacob Markstrom has been an absolute game-breaker for the Flames all season but has kicked it up a notch since returning from his hand injury. Markstrom has only had one sub .900 save percentage performance since his return including a 25 save shutout against the Ducks. While I don’t see him being a trade chip this deadline, there would be a lot coming back for Markstrom in his current form if the Flames are fully buying into the rebuild.
7. Anaheim Ducks (13-25-1, 27 points)
Last rankings: 8 (+1)
Record this week: 0-2-1
The Anaheim Ducks still aren’t getting the results that they want on the scoresheet, but are going to get another top 10 pick to add to the impressive young core. Trevor Zegras looks like he is starting to find his footing a bit since returning from injury including a two goal performance in Sunday nights losing effort against the Red Wings. Pavel Mintyukov, while having dried up a bit lately, still looks like he can evolve into something special and Mason McTavish is going to be the number one center for a long time.
Goaltending for the Ducks has been pretty evenly split between 23 year old Lukas Dostal and veteran John Gibson. More recently, it has been Dostal getting the majority of the starts and he looks hungry to be the future in net for Anaheim. The rookie goaltender made a Ducks record 55 saves in a 2-1 loss to a star studded Maple Leafs team this week. If Dostal can be the guy in net going forward for the Ducks, it is just another piece of the puzzle for this core that is going to make them a real problem for the Pacific Division in the coming years.
8. San Jose Sharks (9-28-3, 21 points)
Last rankings: 7 (-1)
Record this week: 0-3-0
Just as quickly as the San Jose Sharks climbed out of the basement in the last edition of the rankings, they are back at the bottom once again this week. For the second time this season, the Sharks have a losing streak of at least 10, this time currently in the midst of an 11 gamer. The Sharks now sit at the bottom of the league in point percentage at 0.263, well below Chicago Blackhawks who are next closest in the standings.
It is hard to judge how goaltending is fairing on a team that allows the most shots against in the league while not providing any offence sitting last in shots for as well. Mackenzie Blackwood is taking most of the starts between the pipes and has played decent given the circumstances with a .891 save percentage. The benefit of playing behind an atrocious roster? It gives Blackwood a chance at making a lot of saves, where he currently sits 8th in the league with 708 stops.
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