What’s Going On In The Pacific Division: The Vegas Golden Knights could fall out of a playoff spot, and more!

Photo credit:Winnipeg Jets
Ryley Delaney
28 days ago
Another Wednesday, another look at the Pacific Division.
The Vancouver Canucks are firmly in first place in the Pacific Division, the Edmonton Oilers are once again playing down to bad teams, and the Vegas Golden Knights and Los Angeles Kings are battling for the third spot in the Pacific Division.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the latest edition of What’s Going On In The Pacific Division.

Anaheim Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks are likely going to have a top five pick, which will be their sixth-consecutive pick in the top 10 in the draft dating back to the 2019 draft.
As it stands, they have the third fewest points and are a part of the “really bad teams” along with the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks. There’s about a 50% chance one of these teams will pick first overall, with the Ducks having an 11.5% chance of winning the Macklin Celebrini sweepstakes.
Frank Vatrano’s 29 goals and 50 points is first in each category, while Troy Terry is second in both departments with 19 goals and 48 points. In net, John Gibson’s save percentage has sunk to an .891, while Lukáš Dostál has an .899 save percentage in 34 games this season.
It’ll be a few more years before the Ducks are even sniffing a playoff spot, much less a contender for the Stanley Cup.

Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames are another team who’ll be a lottery pick, as they have 71 points in 68 games, eight points back of the Vegas Golden Knights for the final spot in the wild card race.
With that being said, the rest of the season should be seeing how prospects do, as well as standing watching to see where they’ll pick in the 2024 draft.
It doesn’t help that Jacob Markström hasn’t played since Mar. 9, as the 33-year-old netminder is one of the biggest reasons the Flames are anywhere close to a playoff spot. This season, Markström has a .910 save percentage and a 2.68 goals-against average in 41 games played. Top goaltending prospect Dustin Wolf has filled in nicely though, as he has a .931 save percentage and a 2-1-0 record since Markström went down with an injury.
Unless Markström is traded this off-season, which is a real possibility, it’ll likely be a tandem of him and Wolf, which is an exciting proposition.

Edmonton Oilers

In the month of March, the Oilers are 6-1-2, but it doesn’t really feel like it. A big reason for that is because they’ve been playing down to opponents all season, whether that be in their rough stretch to start the season, the 16-game win streak, and even this month.
Take for example, a 4-2 loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Mar. 7. Despite the fact that they had reinforcements in Sam Carrick and Adam Henrique in the lineup, the Blue Jackets jumped out to a 3-0 lead and never lost it. In the following game, the Oilers had a 2-0 lead against the Buffalo Sabres, blowing it and eventually losing (twice) in the shootout.
On Tuesday, it was almost a repeat of the Buffalo game against the Montréal Canadiens, as the Oilers had a 2-0 lead heading into the third period before two goals from the Canadiens tied it up. If not for a double-minor high sticking call in the final minute of the third period that bled into overtime, this game’s ending could have played out similar to the Buffalo game.
The big question for the team is whether or not they are deep enough on all four lines to stop the Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks, and several other teams. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will obviously go off, but will Adam “hasn’t scored since Barack Obama’s first term” Henrique be the depth scorer they need? Time will tell.

Los Angeles Kings

The Los Angeles Kings are in a dogfight with the Vegas Golden Knights for the final guaranteed spot in the Pacific Division. This season, they have a 35-22-11 record for 81 points, five points behind the Edmonton Oilers with two additional games played, and two points ahead of the Golden Knights with an equal number of games played.
After a rough-middle part of the season, former Flames netminder Cam Talbot has been terrific in recent weeks, posting a .940 save percentage and a 7-3-1 record in the past month or so. His backup, another former Flame in David Rittich, has a .916 save percentage and a 2.29 goals-against average and has once again established himself as an NHLer.
The Kings top two lines are formidable, with Kevin Fiala, Adrian Kempe, Anže Kopitar, Quinton Byfield, Trevor Moore, and Phillip Danault all scoring 10 or more goals with 40 or more points. This doesn’t include defenceman Drew Doughty who has 14 goals and 42 points, as well as Pierre-Luc Dubois, who has five goals and 13 points in his last 20 games since the coaching change.
It looks like the Kings could match up against the Oilers in the first round for the third straight season. Third time’s a charm, right?

San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks aren’t a good team. After trading Tomáš Hertl at this year’s trade deadline, all who’s left from their window of contention is Logan Couture, who has played six games this season, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who is now 36 years old.
It’s a sad decline for a team that missed the playoffs only twice from the 1997-98 season until the 2019-20 season where they finished at the bottom of the Pacific Division. Had they landed Connor Bedard in the 2023 draft, things could have potentially been different, but it looks like it’ll be a long rebuilding period for the Sharks.

Seattle Kraken

The Seattle Kraken are in the same boat as the Calgary Flames. They aren’t a bad team by any stretch, but they aren’t good enough to make the playoffs. As it stands, they are 11 points behind the Vegas Golden Knights with just 15 games remaining on their schedule and four teams to jump over.
This is to say that they will miss the playoffs for the second time in their three-year history. Like the Flames, a quick re-tool over the summer may put them in a position to push for a spot next season, as the only free agents they could lose are Tomáš Tatar, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Justin Schultz, all three of whom are replaceable.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Kraken do in the off-season.

Vancouver Canucks

It’s survival time for the Vancouver Canucks, as they are just eight points up on the Edmonton Oilers with 69 games played to the Oilers’ 66 games.
 To make matters worse for the Canucks, Vezina Trophy candidate Thatcher Demko suffered a knee injury earlier in March and could be out until about the end of the month, leaving Casey DeSmith to tend the pipes. DeSmith has an .899 save percentage and a 2.78 goals-against average in 22 games this season, compared to Demko’s .917 save percentage and 2.47 goals-against average in 49 games played.
Still, the Canucks will probably be able to outscore most opponents, as they have four players with 60 or more points, three of those players also have 30 or more goals. Those players are J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser.
It’s a team with a lot of depth, and if former Flame Elias Lindholm (who has four goals and seven points as a Canuck) can get going, they’ll be a difficult team to knock out of the playoffs.

Vegas Golden Knights

From a team that will be tough to knock out of the playoffs, to a team that may not even make the playoffs, we have the Vegas Golden Knights.
At the start of January, the Golden Knights had a 10-point cushion over the team that was looking in from the outside. Fast forward to Mar. 20, and that gap has now closed to just three points, and potentially even less depending on what happens with the Minnesota Wild game on Wednesday evening.
It would be hilarious if the Knights missed the playoffs, as they were considered the “trade deadline winners” after acquiring Anthony Mantha, Noah Hanifin, and Tomáš Hertl. On top of that, they only have their first-round pick for the 2024 draft, as they moved their 2025 first and 2026 first for deadline moves.
Please let this happen.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.
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