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Monday Musings: Pacific Playoff Races

The San Jose Sharks have lost six straight and seven of their last ten. The Anaheim Ducks are 8-1-1 in their last ten, the Calgary Flames are 7-3 and the Edmonton Oilers are 6-3-1. The Sharks losing skid has made it a four-team race in the Pacific Division.

Each team has seven games remaining and the Ducks lead with 93 points. The Sharks and Oilers have 91, while the Flames have 88.

Anaheim plays their next for games on the road in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary, then finish with home games versus Calgary, Chicago and Los Angeles.

San Jose hosts the Rangers tomorrow. They’ll go on the road in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, then home to Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.

The Oilers host LA, San Jose, Anaheim, then go on the road in LA, SJ and Vancouver, before heading home to face the Canucks.

Calgary hosts Colorado at home tonight, followed by LA, San Jose and Anaheim, then they’re on the road in Anaheim, LA and SJ.

The Flames have the Kings, Sharks and Ducks on the second night of back-to-back games in Alberta. We’ll see if they can take advantage of that this week.

The Sharks, Flames and Ducks have four games against playoff teams, while the Oilers have three. Unfortunately, Edmonton and Calgary don’t play each other nor does San Jose play Anaheim, but there will be seven head-to-head matchups between these four teams down the stretch and those games will play a big role in who finishes first through fourth (wildcard).

Since the new division re-alignment in 2014, the Anaheim Ducks have won the Pacific all three times. They’ve won four consecutive titles. The San Jose Sharks have won their division six times in the past 15 years (2002, 2004 and 2008-2011).

The Flames’ last division title came in 2006 when they finished first in the Northwest division, while the Oilers haven’t won a regular season division title since 1986 when they won the Smythe. They’ve finished second five times, third seven times, fourth four times, fifth seven times and sixth and seventh twice. The Oilers could win their first division title in 31 years if they can jump ahead of the Ducks.

It should be a great race and likely will come down the final weekend to determine where each team finishes in the Pacific.

QUICK HITS

  • Matt Benning won’t be out long. He was close to skating today and is expected to skate tomorrow. McLellan said Benning will play sometime this week.
  • Drake Caggiula looks much better after he got three games off in the pressbox. He looks refreshed, and probably a bit hungrier to stay in the lineup. He’s looked good on the second unit PP and more comfortable playing his regular LW position. Scoring depth is huge in the playoffs, and Caggiula and Letestu are smart players with good offensive instincts who could emerge as solid depth scorers in the playoffs.
  • I think Caggiula’s recent play means there will likely only be one spot to rotate through among four forwards — Matt Hendricks, Anton Slepyshev, Iiro Pakarinen and Jujhar Khaira
  • Leon Draisaitl bonus update. If his finishes 10th among NHL forwards in either goals, assists, points or points-per-game (based on 42GP) he’ll get a $1.625 million bonus. He is currently tied for ninth in points with Tyler Seguin and three points ahead of Jamie Benn. He is in a four-way tie for 10th in assists with Phil Kessel, Joe Thornton and Brad Marchand. He is six goals behind 10th and he is 13th in points-per-game. It is an important race to follow because if he reaches his bonus the Oilers will be over the cap and have a salary cap penalty around $1 million next year.
  • Laurent Brossoit played well on Saturday and has looked good in his last three appearances. It is huge for his confidence and the team in case he has to play in the playoffs. He likely will play one of the games versus Vancouver and depending how the stretch goes, he might get a start in LA next week.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • ubermiguel

    So the Oilers won three Cups without winning the division? And the Sharks won six division titles with no Cups to show for it? I don’t want to say “I don’t care about winning the division” but maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

    • Rob19

      Exactly….just gotta look back to 2006 to see what can happen- we just gotta make it to the second season and play well and healthy. Oilers have shown they can beat anybody, anytime. Get to the dance, and ride the wave. I’m old enough to remember the glory years of playoff hockey, but 2006 was special too. The spirit in the city and the volume in our barn was incredible in ’06. Can’t wait to see and feel that again!

  • R U Kidding Me!

    After all the injuries we’ve dealt with over the last few years it’s amazing to see that the top 6 scorers on the team (our 2 top lines) have all played every game so far this season.

  • elliotsmom

    The drama of the western conference is going to be so freakin’ insane. Regardless of how the teams finish, the pride of the organization and fans is over the top ridiculous. I’m so ready for this thriller of a ride. Oilers all the way!!!!

    • OriginalPouzar

      If its anything like 2006:

      1) leave office at 2pm on a Tuesday
      2) drive 296km north to Edmonton
      3) attend playoff game
      4) drive back to Calgary
      5) repeat on Thursday

      I attended 7 games at Rexall (skyreach?) while living in Calgary – it was ALOT of driving.

      Can’t wait to do it again.

      Even though I live in Calgary, I’m hoping for ANA in round 1 as I want a road trip to ANA for a couple of game.

      I’m in stupid Maui until the 16th though – don’t worry GameCenter is all purchased, I won’t miss a second.

    • Oilers since ’86:
      1 Division Titles (they did win it in 87)
      3 Cups (87, 88, 90)

      Flames since ’86:
      3 Division Titles (88, 89, 90)
      1 Cup (89)

      I’d rather have the first, IMO. Maybe that’s just me. But if winning the Division is your “stanley cup” then hey, it’s a free world, celebrate it as you wish. You might as well not watch the playoffs…if that’s the pinnacle of NHL achievement in your eyes.

  • Is it April yet?

    If not The Oil, I wouldn’t mind seeing San Jose go all the way. I’ll give the Ducks credit but the image of Ryan Kesler holding The Cup sickens me. He probably wouldn’t even drink out of it. He’d be like: ” I don’t drink alcohol. Alcohol’s for losers”

  • I’d like to say I can’t believe this is happening, but I knew one day the Oilers would make the playoffs and contend for the Cup before any other Canadian team. I have never had any doubt about that. It is going to happen. Like an addict who needs to hit rock bottom before turning their life around, it is us diehard fans who stuck with our diseased friend, demanded improvement, and are now here to see a new glory and a new energy.

    There are lots of newer fans who don’t know what Oilers playoff hockey feels like, and perhaps many others who forgot.

    Let’s remind them, OILERS NATION, shall we, that the passion and emotion of built up anticipation and release of every puck battle, of every hit, of every blocked shot, save, pass, slap shot, and every goal, is utterly inescapable.

    And that passion is what bring us together, and makes us unique. We stuck through the dark times, Oilers fans.

    And now our time has come.