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Pacific Power Rankings, Week 24: It’s the Canucks division to lose as the season reaches it’s final weeks

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Photo credit:BOB FRID-USA TODAY SPORTS
Justin Mackenzie
24 days ago
Welcome back to another edition of the Pacific Power Rankings! Every week of the regular season, we’ll take you through how one of the most competitive divisions in the NHL is stacking up.
If you want to take a deeper dive into what else is going on in the Pacific Division, be sure to read Brennan Delaney’s weekly Pacific Division Notebook.
Let’s get into this week’s rankings:

1. Vancouver Canucks (45-19-8, 98 points)

Last week: 1 (-)
Record this week: 3-1-0
The Vancouver Canucks have been rolling of late with another solid week of play. On their current 9 game home stand, they are an impressive 4-2-1. The Canucks pretty much control their own destiny in the Pacific Division sitting 10 points up on the chasing Oilers. Money Puck currently has the Canucks as a 95.3% shot at winning the division, which means it would take a pretty big collapse – or another Oilers hot streak – to concede the division lead. One of the intriguing parts of the run the Canucks are currently on is that they’ve been doing it without their Vezina-calibre goaltender, Thatcher Demko. Casey DeSmith has been nothing short of fantastic in relief of his starter, going 23-11-6 with a .899 SV%. The Canucks are also locking it down in front of their netminder, currently sit fourth in the league in goals and have allowed only 15 goals in 10 games this month. While the Canucks have relatively little playoff experience on their roster, Rick Tocchet has given the team some solid structure and the confidence needed to do well in the postseason.

2. Edmonton Oilers (42-23-4, 88 points)

Last week: 2 (-)
Record this week: 2-2-0
It was an even split in Week 24 for the Edmonton Oilers, with all 4 games coming against Atlantic Division opponents. They started the week strong with wins over the Canadiens and Sabres at home, but a tough trip to Ontario saw them drop back-to-back games to the Maple Leafs and Senators. While it might not have gone the way the club would’ve liked results wise, the bigger storylines came from two individual player; Zach Hyman and Connor McDavid. On Sunday, Hyman became the third-oldest player in NHL history to reach the 50 goal mark. For McDavid, he’s chasing his own bit of history. He surpassed the 90-assist mark for the first time in his career and looks poised to become the fourth player to reach the century mark in helpers, joining Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Bobby Orr. The Oilers hopes of passing the Canucks for the division title are slipping away, now sitting 10 points back. As it stands, they would match up with the Kings in the first-round for a third consecutive season. Edmonton will host the Kings for their final meeting of the regular season on Thursday as a potential series preview.

3. Los Angeles Kings (38-22-11, 87 points)

Last week: 3 (-)
Record this week: 4-0-0
A perfect 4-0-0 Week 24 for the Los Angeles Kings has brought the up and down season they have had to a high at one of the most important stretches of games. The Los Angeles Kings are a really well structured hockey team, and they have been proving that over the past couple of weeks. The game plan of late has been get a lead and shut down the opponent by clogging up the neutral zone, and it’s worked really well. While it might not be the most exciting brand of hockey, its effective and when it comes playoff time, the Kings are going to be a frustrating team to play against. Cam Talbot has bounced back into form after a lull in play, bring his save percentage back up to .917. Even with the recent stretch of great play, the Kings can still feel the Golden Knights breathing down their necks, sitting only 2 points back of them for the third spot in the Pacific. If this group wants another crack at taking down their Oilers logo shaped kryptonite, they are going to have to keep it rolling.

4. Vegas Golden Knights (39-25-7, 85 points)

Last week: 4 (-)
Record this week: 3-1-0
Unfortunately for everyone else in the league, the Vegas Golden Knights are going to be hard to judge until the playoffs start due some injuries currently sitting on LTIR. If Mark Stone and, more likely, Tomas Hertl are able to draw back into the lineup in the first round, that makes an already deep forward group even more dangerous. The Knights’ playoff future still sits up in the air, but a big 2-1 win over the Blues on Monday night gave the club a bit of a cushion for the second wild card spot, now sitting 5 points up on St. Louis for the final spot in the West. It’s not a guarantee that the Knights will be a Wild Card representative as they also sit within striking distance of the Kings for third place in the Pacific Division. For the second time this year, the Knights might be without their starter as Adin Hill had to be removed from Saturday’s game against the Blue Jackets after stretching out to make a save. Logan Thompson, who already has 39 games played this year, has been solid while Hill has been dealing with injuries this season, posting a .907 SV%.

5. Calgary Flames (33-32-5, 71 points)

Last week: 5 (-)
Record this week: 0-2-0
With the Calgary Flames losing both games in Week 24 and dropping to 3-7-0 in their last 10, the thought of playoffs returning to southern Alberta are all but lost. It was always going to be an uphill battle after the team lost Nikita Zadorov, Elias Lindholm, Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin, but it felt like there was still a glimmer of hope as the Flames hung around a Wild Card spot for a good portion of the season. Now sitting 14 points out of that final spot with multiple teams to leapfrog, it felt like this week was the nail in the coffin. On a positive note, it has been nice to get a bit of an extended look at top goaltending prospect Dustin Wolf with Dan Vladar sidelined due to season-ending hip surgery. Over the past five games, Wolf has taken the starters net in five and had a .929 SV%. With 12 games left on the schedule, it will be interesting to see what the Flames management/coaching staff does with their lineup with a stockpile of young prospects looking for a shot to prove themselves with the big club.

6. Seattle Kraken (28-29-13, 69 points)

Last week: 6 (-)
Record this week:
The Seattle Kraken joined the ranks of fallen soldiers in the Pacific Division this week as they hit the dreaded 0% chance at making the playoffs this year according to MoneyPuck. This comes as a big disappointment for a team that really looked like it was trending in the right direction after making playoffs last year and even knocking off the Colorado Avalanche in the first-round. The Kraken have now dropped 8 straight contests, including a 5-1 stinker at home against the Montreal Canadiens. Sure, having a 100 PDO last year always helps, but this iteration of the Kraken just looks like they aren’t on the same page with what we saw a season ago. Ignoring the 3 goals on 4 shots he allowed against Buffalo this week, Joey Daccord has had one heck of a season. His .915 SV% this year should be able to nab him a nice contract if he can replicate anything close to this performance next season.

7. Anaheim Ducks (24-43-4, 52 points)

Last week: 7 (-)
Record this week: 1-1-1
While sitting 12 points clear of the lowly Sharks, the Anaheim Ducks unfortunately will end up in the same place as their California rivals; crossing their fingers and hoping the ping pong balls fall in their favour. However, unlike the Sharks, the Ducks have a boatload of players to be excited about for the future (Carlsson, McTavish, Mintyukov, Gauthier). Another win for the Ducks this season is the emergence of Lukas Dostal, who could be the goaltender of the future as John Gibson exits his prime years. Dostal has gotten the majority of the starts over the past few weeks, carrying a .901 SV% and sitting third amongst rookie goaltenders behind Joel Hofer and Pyotr Kotchetkov.

8. San Jose Sharks (16-46-8, 40 points)

Last week: 8 (-)
Record this week: 0-2-1
Losers of 7 straight and only picking up a single victory in 12 tries in March, the San Jose Sharks look like they won’t be moving out of the standings basement for the rest of the season. The dagger this week came after taking a 4-0 lead against the Chicago Blackhawks, only to see it disappear and lose 5-4 in overtime. While they’ve already secured themselves finishing ahead of the 93′ rendition of the Sharks who finished 11-71-2, the vibes surrounding this year’s team are eerily similar.

Questions? comments? concerns? Let us know in the comments!

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