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What’s Going On In The Pacific Division: Vegas Golden Knights surging, the battle for the division crown, and more!

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Photo credit:BOB FRID-USA TODAY SPORTS
Ryley Delaney
27 days ago
There are just over two weeks remaining on the National Hockey League schedule.
Unfortunately, that means that there are just two What’s Going On In The Pacific Division articles left this season, so let’s make it count, shall we?
One team in the Pacific Division is heating up, while the other is cooling down. Moreover, can the Vancouver Canucks be caught in the race for the Pacific Division crown? Let’s find out.

Anaheim Ducks

Since last Wednesday, it’s been a rough week for the Anaheim Ducks as they lost 4-2 to the Seattle Kraken, 6-1 to the Edmonton Oilers, and 3-2 to the Vancouver Canucks. However, they scrapped out a 5-3 win against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, which is great for the Flames’ odds of moving up in the draft.
While Frank Vatrano leads the team in goals (30) and points (53), he went cold this past week, allowing Troy Terry back into the point lead race, as he has 52 points and 20 goals. Youngster Mason McTavish had 19 goals and 42 points, while Ryan Strome has 11 goals and 36 points. One of their big signings this past off-season, Alexander Killorn, has 17 goals and 33 points.
Goaltending has been an issue all season for the Ducks, as John Gibson has started the majority of the games and has an .890 save percentage and a 3.48 goals-against average in 45 games. Gibson has shared the crease with young netminder Lukáš Dostál all season, who has a better .899 save percentage and a 3.44 goals against average in his 39 games played.

Calgary Flames

Over the past week, the Calgary Flames are 1-2-0, with a big win over the Los Angeles Kings, but losses to the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks. We’ll get more into the ramifications of this week for the Kings in their section.
It’s a foregone conclusion that Nazem Kadri will finish first in points for the Flames, as he has 24 goals and 65 points this season. However, the race for the goal lead is more exciting, as both Yegor Sharangovich and Blake Coleman each have 29 goals. Another interesting race to monitor is the goals department for defenceman, as MacKenzie Weegar’s 18 goals is tied for the third-most in the league for defencemen. His 16 even-strength goals is the most for a defenceman.
At this point, the Flames need to see what they have in Dustin Wolf, who has an .893 save percentage and a 3.23 goals-against average in 12 games played this season. Jacob Markström has a .906 save percentage and a 2.74 goals-against average in 45 games played, but the two netminders should be splitting games down the middle the rest of the season.

Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers had won a game against the Winnipeg Jets prior to last week’s What’s Going On In The Pacific Division (WGOITPD), which led to a three-game win streak as they defeated the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 and the Anaheim Ducks 6-1. However, their win streak was snapped as they fell to the St. Louis Blues in overtime.
Other than the Eastern Conference Wild Card race, the most exciting race is for the point lead. Nathan MacKinnon and Nikita Kucherov are tied for the most points in the league with 127, but Connor McDavid’s 29 goals and 126 points will make this race come down to the wire. Moreover, Leon Draisaitl is on the brink of another 40-goal season and is a point shy of 100. Zach Hyman has 52 goals and has an outside chance at 60 goals in the remaining nine games, while Evan Bochard has 16 goals and 76 points, the latter is tied for third for defencemen.
Goaltending in the playoffs is paramount for the Oilers, as it’ll be a determining factor how far they go. Stuart Skinner has had a rather inconsistent season, posting a .906 save percentage and a 2.63 goals-against average, going through phases where he looks like a Vezina contender, while other times looking like a backup at best. Their actual backup is Calvin Pickard, who has a .915 save percentage and a 2.24 goals-against average in 18 games played.

Los Angeles Kings

With the start the Los Angeles Kings had, they looked like a sure bet to make the playoffs. However, an 0-3 week with losses to the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, and Winnipeg Jets, along with a 2-1-0 week from the St. Louis Blues has put those hopes in jeopardy. The Kings have just a three-point cushion on the team from Missouri with a game in hand.
There have been three players all season who have been around the lead in points, and all three of Adrian Kempe (23 goals), Anže Kopitar (26 goals) and Kevin Fiala (25 goals) are tied for 66 points. Quinton Byfield has 19 goals and 53 points, while Trevor Moore’s 26 goals are now tied with Kopitar. Moreover, Drew Doughty is having one of his best seasons in years, as he has 14 goals and 46 points.
The two former Calgary Flames in net continue to work, as Cam Talbot has a .915 save percentage and a 2.45 goals-against average in 48 games. Big Save Dave Rittich has a .918 save percentage and a 2.26 goals-against average in 22 games played. However, both netminders’ success may be a product of the Kings’ defensive system.

San Jose Sharks

Since the last WGOITPD, the Sharks are 1-2-0, registering their first shutout of the season over the St. Louis Blues in St. Louis. Still, they lost 3-1 to the Minnesota Wild and 4-2 to the Seattle Kraken.
Mikael Granlund has 12 goals and 51 points, with the latter leading the Sharks. Fabian Zetterlund leads the team with 21 goals and also has 38 points, while rookie William Eklund has 12 goals and 36 points in 72 games. Newly acquired forward Klim Kostin has four goals and eight points since the trade deadline deal with the Detroit Red Wings.
Despite the 298 goals against the season, netminder Mackenzie Blackwood has a .900 save percentage and a 3.41 goals-against average in 40 games played. Obviously that’s not great, but it is in the context of how bad the Sharks are. Macklin Celebrini would be a big help.

Seattle Kraken

Despite there being next to no chance to make the playoffs, the Seattle Kraken have had a successful four-game stretch in recent times. They played two games at home against the Anaheim Ducks, winning both, before being shut out by the Dallas Stars last Saturday. However, they won another game as they defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-2 on Monday.
Jared McCann has become a very good player over the past few seasons, as he leads the Kraken in both goals (28) and points (59). Second to him in both categories is Oliver Bjorkstrand, who has 20 goals and 52 points. Defencemen Vince Dunn has 11 goals and 46 points, while Jordan Eberle has 17 goals and 42 points, one more in each category than Eeli Tolvanen who has 16 goals and 41 points.
Another positive for the Kraken is the play of netminder Joey Daccord, who has a .918 save percentage and a 2.42 goals-against average in 47 games played, along with an 18-16-11 record. He may get a handful of Vezina Trophy votes. Philipp Grubauer has played the majority of the rest of the games, rocking an .898 save percentage and a 2.89 goals-against average in 31 games played.

Vancouver Canucks

Can anyone (namely the Edmonton Oilers) catch the Vancouver Canucks for the Pacific Division crown? This past week, the Canucks went 1-2-0 and have lost three of their last four games, with their only win coming against the Anaheim Ducks. They have a five-point cushion on the Oilers, but have played 75 games to the Oilers’ 73 games.
That hasn’t stopped them from being a high scoring team, as J.T. Miller has 35 goals and 95 points and looks to be the newest 100-point scorer in the near future. Elias Pettersson has 33 goals and 51 points, while Quinn Hughes leads all defencemen with 84 points while scoring 15 goals. Brock Boeser leads the team with 38 goals and also has 70 points, while they have a whole bunch of secondary scoring from Filip Hronek, Conor Garland, Nils Hoglander (who has 23 goals), Ilya Mikheyev, and a whole bunch of other players.
The big question is whether or not they can hold onto the first spot in the Pacific Division while Thatcher Demko is injured. Demko may well get some Vezina Trophy votes as he has a .917 save percentage and a 2.47 goals-against average in 49 games played. Casey DeSmith has filled in for Demko, and has an .897 save percentage and a 2.80 goals-against average in 27 games played.

Vegas Golden Knights

While the Los Angeles Kings are going down in the standings, the Vegas Golden Knights are rising. They are now on a seven-game point streak with six wins, including a 3-0-0 week with a win over the Winnipeg Jets and the Vancouver Canucks, both in dominant fashion.
Jonathan Marchessault leads the team in both goals (41) and points (66), while Jack Eichel has 25 goals and 59 points. The injured Mark Stone is still tied for third in points with 16 goals and 53 points, while William Karlsson has 26 goals and 53 points. Other depth scorers include Chandler Stephenson (15 goals, 46 points), Ivan Barbashev (18 goals, 44 points), and Niolas Roy (11 goals, 38 points). This doesn’t factor in Tomáš Hertl, who has yet to make his Golden Knights debut, but could on Friday according to the NHL.com article.
In terms of what’s happening between the pipes, Logan Thompson has appeared in 42 games and has a .911 save percentage and a 2.64 goals-against average, along with a 23-12-5 record. Adin Hill has spent a lot of the season on the injured reserve, and has a .914 save percentage and a 2.62 goals-against average in 32 games played, but his play has tailed off since returning from an injury.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.
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