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What’s Going on in the Pacific Division: Oilers are still winning, Adin Hill returns for the Golden Knights, and more!
28 days ago
It’s that time of the week where we look at the Pacific Division.
The Edmonton Oilers have continued to win, the Vegas Golden Knights continue to be missing key players, and the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks… Well, they’re doing their own thing.
Without further ado, let’s dig into this week’s What’s Going on in the Pacific Division!
The Anaheim Ducks have only played three games since last week’s article, going 1-2 with a loss to the San Jose Sharks and the New York Rangers, while defeating the Buffalo Sabres.
Frank Vatrano still sits at the top of the team in both goals with 21 and points with 34. Troy Terry is hot on his trail with 32 points, while Mason McTavish and Adam Henrique, a good trade candidate, both have 29 points.
Goaltending hasn’t been great for the Ducks this season. Long-term netminder John Gibson has a .900 save percentage and a 3.06 goals-against average in 30 games played, along with an 8-19-0 record. Lukáš Dostál hasn’t been any better in his 22 games played, as he has a 7-11-1 record with a .900 save percentage and 3.58 goals-against average.
The Ducks second round pick in 2021 and Calgary’s own, Olen Zellweger, made his debut on Tuesday evening picking up an assist in 13:42 minutes played. The team is young, but they’re on the up and up.
Instead of looking at every team’s next five, we’ll look at their upcoming schedule before the All-Star break. The Ducks will have three games, heading on a two-game road trip to face off against the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild, before hosting the San Jose Sharks in their final game before the festivities.
The Calgary Flames have had a rough stretch since the last article, as they’ve lost all three games they’ve played, including to the Edmonton Oilers on Hockey Day in Canada.
There’s still some positives in 2023-24 for the Flames though, such as Blake Coleman already surpassing his career-high in points as he has 20 goals and 39 points in 47 games. After a tough start to his season, Yegor Sharangovich has now hit the 20-goal mark and has 34 points. Nazem Kadri is second on the team in points with 16 goals and 38 points, while trade candidate Elias Lindholm has eight goals and 31 points. Defenceman MacKenzie Weegar now has 11 goals and 28 points and has solidified himself as a first pair defenceman.
Moreover, netminder Jacob Markström has been terrific this season, posting a .910 save percentage and 2.64 goals-against average in 27 games, along with a 13-11-2 record. Backup Daniel Vladař has struggled with an .888 save percentage and a 3.27 goals-against average in 17 games, but top goaltending prospect Dustin Wolf will be ready sooner rather than later.
Sadly for the Flames, it looks like they’ll be definite sellers at this years’ trade deadline. As of Wednesday morning, the Flames sit four points out of a playoff spot with the same number of games in hand, but have been surpassed in points by both the St. Louis Blues and Seattle Kraken with a loss on Tuesday. Moreover, the Flames have three soon-to-be unrestricted free agents and it may be time to look towards next season and beyond.
The Flames only have two games remaining before the All-Star Game, as they’ll take on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday and the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday. The latter has given the Flames issues the past two seasons.
The Edmonton Oilers have had quite an easy schedule over their last 14 games, but their 2-9-1 record to start the season is long in the rear view mirror.
As you can guess, Connor McDavid leads the team in points as he has 17 goals and 60 points in 41 games. Leon Draisaitl has been scoring a lot lately and now has 22 goals and 51 points. On top of that, the Oilers have three additional players with 40 or more points, with leading goal scorer Zach Hyman having 28 goals and 45, Evan Bouchard with 42, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with 41. Depth options like Evander Kane, Warren Foegele, and Ryan McLeod have been getting it done in the middle six.
Netminder Stuart Skinner has also been great, as his save percentage has risen to .908 and his goals-against average has dropped to 2.49. Since November 11, their third win of the season, Skinner has a .924 save percentage and a 20-4-0 record. With a win on Tuesday, he’s now won 11-straight games, beating Grant Fuhr’s record for consecutive wins. It’s expected that the Oilers will look to upgrade their backup netminder at this years’ deadline.
Speaking of upgrades, the Oilers have signed Corey Perry to a league minimum deal for the remainder of the season. Perry was terminated from his contract with the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this season after scoring four goals and nine points in 16 games. Good add to their bottom six, but questionable ethics.
Like the Flames, the Oilers only have two games remaining before the All-Star game. They’ll host both the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators, and if they win both, that’ll move them to 16 consecutive wins, just one shy of matching the record. Hopefully, the All-Star break freezes them up.
Los Angeles Kings
The good news for Los Angeles Kings fans is that they’ve now won two games in 2024. The bad news is that they still went 1-1-1, with a loss to the San Jose Sharks.
Kevin Fiala leads the team in points as has 41 of them along with 11 goals. Adrian Kempe has also been a productive player for the Kings this season, scoring 15 goals and 40 points, while Anže Kopitar has 14 goals and 39 points. Trevor Moore leads the team in goals with 21 and putting up 33 points himself, while youngster Quinton Byfield has 14 goals and 33 points. Long-time King Drew Doughty leads the defence core with 11 goals and 24 points.
Former Flame Cam Talbot has had a much needed breather in recent times, and he desperately needed it. He has a .915 save percentage and a 2.43 goals-against average, which is good, but just two weeks ago, he had a .923 save percentage and a 2.17 goals-against average. Another former Flame in David Rittich has been phenomenal, as he has a .930 save percentage and 1.76 goals-against average in eight games played.
There appears to be tension in the Kings locker room. Head coach Todd McLellan is on the hot seat according to Kings’ fans, but not Kings’ general manager Rob Blake who said that McLellan will remain as the Kings head coach for the rest of the season. McLellan also called out Pierre-Luc Dubois on Tuesday, saying he needs to be a difference maker. What a bad sign and trade that was for the Kings, as Dubois has just nine goals and 19 points in 44 games.
The Kings have four games remaining before the All-Star break, as they’ll host the Buffalo Sabres before a three-game road trip against the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, and Nashville Predators.
San Jose Sharks
The worst team in the league is bad, but they are actually on a three-game win streak, including wins against the Kings and the New York Rangers.
So far in 2023-24, Tomáš Hertl leads the Sharks with 15 goals and 34 points. Fabian Zetterlund is their only other double-digit goal getter, as he had 14 goals and 21 points. Mikael Granlund (more on him later) is the only other player with 20 or more points, as he has five goals and 29 points. Rookie William Eklund has eight goals and 19 points, while two trade candidates, Mike Hoffman (eight goals, 17 points) and Anthony Duclair (eight goals, 16 points) round out the top six.
Kaapo Kähkönen is doing his very best to get off the rebuilding team as soon as possible, as he has a 6-13-1 record in 23 games, along with an awful 3.56 goals against average and a relatively impressive .902 save percentage. Mackenzie Blackwood has appeared in 31 games and has a 6-17-3 record, along with a 3.63 goals-against average and an .896 goals-against average. You got to feel bad for the netminders.
Mikael Granlund was placed on injured reserve on Jan. 20 due to a shoulder injury. However, some publications that cover the Sharks say he may be back soon, like the first game after the All-Star Game soon. Furthermore, long-time Shark Logan Couture made his season debut against Anaheim and has an assist in three games. The Sharks are 3-0-0 with their captain in the lineup, but they may be out of the playoff race.
The Sharks have three games remaining before the All-Star break, as they’ll host both the Buffalo Sabres and Seattle Kraken, before heading the Los Angeles Metropolitan area to face off against the Anaheim Ducks in one of the most exciting match-ups of the season.
The Seattle Kraken looked like they’d be pushing for a playoff spot, but a four game win-streak has them four points out of a playoff spot and in the log-jam of teams that sit just outside the final wild card position.
Oliver Bjorkstrand has 12 goals and 36 points and leads the way, with defenceman Vince Dunn hot on his trail with eight goals and 35 points. Jared McCann leads the team in goals with 12 and has 30 points to go along with that. Eeli Tolvanen is their only other double-digit goal scorer with 12 goals and 29 points, while Jordan Eberle is their only other 20-point getter with seven goals and 23 points.
Joey Daccord remains as their best netminder, as he has a .922 save percentage and 2.33 goals-against average in 30 games played, along with a 13-8-8 record. Philipp Grubauer has yet to play since his injury, has an .884 save percentage and 3.25 goals-against average in 17 games played and is Seattle’s clear backup.
In fact, Grubauer was activated off the injured reserve on Tuesday, with Chris Driedger returning to the American Hockey League. In other news surrounding the Kraken, Yanni Gourde was cross checked by McDavid and high-sticked by his teammate, and at the end of his shift, he jumped into Mattias Ekholm’s head and got a five and a game. The National Hockey League suspended him for two games and he’s set to return on Friday.
The Kraken will play four games before the All-Star Game, as they’ll host the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, and Columbus Blue Jackets before heading to the Bay Area to face the San Jose Sharks.
With only a handful of games before the All-Star break, who expected the Vancouver Canucks leading the National Hockey League in points coming?
The Canucks have done a fantastic job at putting the puck in the net, as J.T. Miller has 21 goals and 63 points in 47 games, with Elias Pettersson right behind him with 25 goals and 61 points. Defenceman Quinn Hughes leads all defenceman in the league in points with 57, while Brock Boeser has 27 goals and 46 points. On top of that, their depth options are scoring, as the Canucks have eight additional players with 20 or more points.
On top of being second in goals scored, the Canucks have also done a great job of keeping the puck out of the net. Thatcher Demko has played 34 games and has a 25-8-1 record with a .922 save percentage and a 2.40 goals-against average. Casey DeSmith has put together a nice season as the Canucks backup, as he has a .918 save percentage and 2.48 goals-against average in 14 games played.
One of those eight players with 20 or more points is Andrei Kuzmenko, who has eight goals and 21 points. As a depth piece, that’s great, but last season, the 27-year-old winger had 39 goals and 74 points in 81 games. On a recent appearance on Barn Burner, Frank Seravalli connected the Flames and Canucks as potential trade partners, noting that Kuzmenko (who has a $5.5 million cap hit) could be swapped for either Chris Tanev or Elias Lindholm in a similar deal to the Yegor Sharangovich trade.
The Canucks only have two games remaining before the All-Star Game, hosting the St. Louis Blues and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights saw the Edmonton Oilers hot on their trail, and decided to win all but one of their four games since the last What’s Going on in the Pacific article. All in all, they went 3-0-1 and sit on 62 points in 48 games, but if the Oilers win all five of their games in hand, they’ll overtake the Golden Knights.
As one would expect, Mark Stone has taken over team scoring with 15 goals and 49 points. That’s because Jack Eichel had lower-body surgery, but he still is second in team scoring with 19 goals and 44 points. Jonathan Marchessault leads the team in goals with 22, while also adding 37 points. William Karlsson was moved to the long-term injured reserve on Friday, but should be back after the All-Star break. He has 15 goals and 32 points in 38 games. Ivan Barbashev is their only other double-digit goal scorer with 12 goals and 26 points.
Adin Hill was activated off the injured reserve and of course he saved 40 shots on 42 attempts in his first game back. He has a league leading .935 save percentage and 1.93 goals-against average in 16 games for qualified netminders. Logan Thompson filled in well in Hill’s absence, and had a .907 save percentage and 2.72 goals-against average in 30 games played.
Due to his surgery, Eichel was pulled from the All-Star game leaving the Golden Knights with no representatives. In his (and Jack Hughes’) stead, Winnipeg Jets’ forward Kyle Connor and New York Rangers’ forward Vincent Trocheck will fill in for those two.
Before the All-Star game, the Golden Knights will embark on a two-game road trip that’ll see them face off against the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings in back-to-back… Knights.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.
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