Photo credit:© Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
What’s going on in the Pacific Division: Oilers still surging, Flames have won four straight, and more!
1 month ago
The Pacific Division has become the Wild West.
As we’re just over the half-way mark of the season, the standings are far from settled as it looks like just the division leaders have their place secure. The second-placed team down to the sixth-placed team all have a realistic shot at finishing with home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
Without further ado, let’s dig in to this week’s What Going on in the Pacific Division!
Since the last article, the Ducks have gone 2-3-0, bringing their record to 15-28-1 with 31 points. Honestly, it wasn’t an awful week from a rebuilding team.
Forward Frank Vatrano is going to get a good haul at the deadline, as he leads the team in both goals with 21 and assists with 33. The 29-year-old is just three goals shy of a career-high. Youngster Mason McTavish has 12 goals and 27 points, with Troy Terry also at 27 points. Adam Henrique has 11 goals and 24 points and may get a solid return at the deadline as well.
John Gibson has started the majority of the Ducks games and has an 8-18-0 record in 28 games played with a 3.06 goals-against average. Lukáš Dostál has played 20 games and has a 7-10-1 record with a 3.55 goals-against average. Both netminders have a .901 save percentage as well.
The Ducks have several players who could be traded at the March 8 deadline. Henrique is an expiring free agent on a $5.825 million deal, but has a track record of being able to score and ranks as the Daily Faceoff’s seventh-ranked Trade Target. Jakob Silfverberg is also an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, and he hasn’t hit 30 points since 2019-20, but could still net the Ducks a pick. Trevor Zegras and Vatrano both have more than a season remaining on their contracts, but could be on their way out.
Over their next five games, the Ducks will face the Sharks in San Jose, before returning home and hosting two New York teams, the Rangers and the Buffalo Sabres. Afterwards, they’ll head to Dallas to play the Stars, before ending their two-game road trip in Minnesota to face the Wild.
Although the Flames may be sellers at this season’s deadline, don’t exclude them from making a push at the playoff. Since we last looked of the protagonist of the story, they’ve won their last four games.
“The Texas Tiger” Blake Coleman has been nothing short of phenomenal this season, reaching 20 goals for the third time in his career on Tuesday, while also matching a career-high 38 points in just 44 games (compared to 82 games). Nazem Kadri is second in points for the Flames, scoring 15 goals and 36 points, while Yegor Sharangovich leads the team in goals with 18 while also putting up 31 points. Depth scoring is a surplus for the Flames, with eight additional players with 20 or more points.
Goaltending has also been a strong suit for the Flames this season, as Jacob Markström is playing his butt off this season, owning a .912 save percentage in 26 games played, along with a 2.59 goals-against average. Daniel Vladar has been below average, playing in 14 games and owning a 7-5-2 record with an .885 save percentage and a 3.30 goals-against average.
As you may know, the Flames have three high-profile unrestricted free agents at the end of the season – Chris Tanev, Noah Hanifin, and Elias Lindholm. However, netminder Markström’s name has been mentioned by several reporters as someone teams may be looking at. Still, the Flames won’t come to Markström, who has a no-trade clause, unless it’s a destination he wants to go to and a good offer for the team.
Over their next five games, the Flames will play all at home, facing off against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Chicago Blackhawks.
After a terrible start to the season in which Jay Woodcroft was fired as the scapegoat, the Edmonton Oilers are now on an 11-game win streak and look poised to take over the second spot in the Pacific Division.
Superstar Connor McDavid isn’t going to repeat hs 153-point performance he had in the season prior, but he currently has an 11-game point streak with points in 23 of his last 24 games. In total, he has 16 goals and 58 points in 38 games. The Oilers have three additional 40+ point getters, as Leon Draisaitl has 21 goals and 46 points, Zach Hyman has 26 goals and 42 points, and Evan Bouchard has 11 goals and 42 points. Long-term Oiler Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also has 11 goals and 38 points.
Their goaltending situation has improved as well, as Stuart Skinner now has a .903 save percentage and a 2.61 goals-against average, much better than the .854 save percentage he started with after his first eight games. Even Jack Campbell has been playing significantly better in the American Hockey League, posting a .918 save percentage over his last nine starts.
Still, the Oilers have a ton of needs to fill before the March 8 trade deadline. According to Frank Seravalli’s article highlighting every Western Conference’s team needs, the Oilers will need a third line centre, second line right wing, a goaltender to take off some workload from Skinner, and maybe even a defenceman.
Like the Flames, the Oilers only have five games remaining this month. They’ll face off against the Seattle Kraken at home, before heading down south to take on the Flames on Saturday. Afterwards, they’ll return home for the remainder of the month to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago Blackhawks, and the Nashville Predators.
Los Angeles Kings
It seemed like a given that the Kings would finish in the third spot in the Pacific Division. However, they had a massive eight game losing streak and only have one more point that the Oilers and three more than the Flames (with three games in hand).
Anže Kopitar has once again proven that he’s one of the most underrated players of our generation, as he has 14 goals and 39 points in 41 games as a 36-year-old. Adrian Kempe is hot on his trail with 15 goals and 38 points, as well as Kevin Fiala, who has 10 goals and 37 points. Trevor Moore leads the team in goals with 20 and has 31 points, while youngster Quinton Byfield has 12 goals and 30 points.
The Kings goaltending duet is made up of two former Flames. Cam Talbot has played 30 of the Kings 41 games and has a .915 save percentage and a 2.43 goals-against average, down from a .923 save percentage and 2.17 goals-against average since the last article. David Rittich is their backup, and he has a .932 save percentage and a 1.61 goals-against average in five games played.
Scoring has been an issue for the Kings since Christmas, as they are 1-5-4 since that point, with only one game where they’ve scored more than three goals. It’s noted in that Daily Faceoff article that the season could fall apart if Talbot slips up, which he kind of has the past week or so, which means the Kings may need goaltending insurance. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if they look to add a forward at the deadline as well.
The Kings start a four-game home stand on Thursday as they’ll take on the Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks, and the Buffalo Sabres. To round out their next five, they’ll be heading to Colorado to take on the Avalanche.
San Jose Sharks
The Macklin Celebrini watch continues for the San Jose Sharks, who are last in the league with 24 points.
There’s only so much Tomáš Hertl can do for the Sharks, as he leads the team in goals with 13 and points with 30. Mikael Granlund is having a sneakily good season, probably because he wants to get out of San Jose, as he has five goals and 29 points. Fabian Zetterlund has 12 goals, but only has 18 points.
Somehow, the Sharks goaltending has kept them from being even worse. Kaapo Kähkönen has played in 21 games and has an .899 save percentage, but that’s not all too bad considering he has a 3.61 goals-against average. It’s a similar case for Mackenzie Blackwood, who has an .894 save percentage juxtaposed to a horrendous 3.72 goals-against average.
Since we last looked at the Sharkies, the ended their 11 game losing streak with a win over the Montréal Canadians. However, an Ottawa goal with 4.1 seconds left sunk the team in a 5-4 loss, before two more loses to the Buffalo Sabres and Chicago Blackhawks has put them on another multi-game losing streak.
The Sharks will host the Anaheim Ducks, head to Los Angeles to face the Kings, before a three-game homestand against the New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, and the Seattle Kraken. Speaking about the Kraken…
The Seattle Kraken were finally extinguished, as their nine-game winning streak recently ended.
Defenceman Vince Dunn (eight goals) and winger Oliver Bjorkstrand (12 goals) lead the team with 35 points each. Jared McCann once again leads the team in goals with 17, along with 28 points. Interestingly, Eeli Tolvanen has the same amount of points as McCann, but with 11 goals and 17 assists.
Netminder Joey Daccord has broken out as a true number one netminder as he has a .923 save percentage and a 2.28 goals-against average in 28 games played. Philipp Grubauer is still out and had an .884 save percentage and 3.25 goals-against average, so we know which netminder will be the number one moving forward.
Since the last article, Jaden Schwartz has returned from his upper-body injury and has played the last five games. However, they lost the reigning Calder Trophy winner Matty Berniers due to an undisclosed injury.
The Kraken’s next five will be a final game on the road against the Edmonton Oilers, and a four game homestand against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Coming into the 2023-24 season, who would have seen the Vancouver Canucks and the Winnipeg Jets as tied for the lead league in points?
The Canucks have everything clicking right now, as J.T. MIller is among the league leaders in points with 20 goals and 60 points. Elias Pettersson is hot on his trail with 23 goals and 58 points, while they have another 50 point-getting in defenceman Quinn Hughes, who has 11 goals and 52 points. Brock Boeser leads the team in goals with 27 along with 46 points, while Filip Hronek has three goals and 36 points.
To make matters worse for the rest of the league, the Canucks goaltender is strong as well. Thatcher Demko has a 22-8-1 record with a .919 save percentage and a 2.47 goals-against average in 31 games played. If you’re thinking the Canucks are an easy team to beat without Demko in net, think again as Casey DeSmith has a .918 save percentage and 2.48 goals against average in 14 games played.
Per the Frank Seravalli’s Western Conference trade deadline objective article, the Canucks will be looking for a top six forward, preferably a centre, at this year’s deadline. It’s also mentioned that Andrei Kuzmenko may be a cap casualty, as he only has eight goals and 19 points, far off the 39 goal and 74 point pace he was on last season.
Over their next five games, the Canucks will be at home facing off against the Arizona Coyotes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Vegas Golden Knights
The reigning Stanley Cup Champions are running into some issues, as the Vegas Golden Knights are 4-6-0 in their last 10 games.
Jack Eichel is leading the team in goals with 19, while being tied in team points with 44 points. Mark Stone also has 44 goals with 15 goals, while William Karlsson has 15 goals and 32 points. Jonathan Marchessault is just one goal behind Jack Eichel with 18 goals and 30 points.
Netminder Adin Hill is still out with an injury, and the Knights are really missing his .933 save percentage and 1.93 goals-against average. Logan Thompson has filled in, and has a respectable .908 save percentage and 2.70 goals-against average.
The big question for the Knights is health. Eichel is now out week-to-week with a lower body surgery, while Karlsson has only played one game since the turn of the New Year. Shea Theodore has been out since late November, and Hill is still injured. This was similar to last season where Mark Stone and others were injured.
Over their next five games, the Golden Knights will take on the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins at home, before going on their New York Metropolitan road trip, facing the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, and the Rangers once again.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.
Recent articles from Brennan Delaney
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