This is a weekly feature in which I’ll look at the performances and narratives of the teams in the Pacific Division.
The Golden Knights capitalized on a cold streak by the Kings and are now sitting in first place in the division. Elsewhere, the Canucks add yet another key player to their list of injuries while the Ducks welcomed Ryan Getzlaf back from the Injured Reserve.
4-2 @GoldenKnights. Reilly Smith, former Panther, to Jonathan Marchessault, former Panther, for the empty netter to give Gerard Gallant, former Panthers coach, the win over the Panthers. Amazing. #NHL— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) December 18, 2017
1st: Vegas Golden Knights
21-9-2 (44 points) / +15 goal differential
The Golden Knights haven’t lost a game in regulation since Dec. 1 and are tied with the L.A. Kings for first place in the Pacific Division with two games in hand. They played three games last week, beating the Penguins and Panthers and losing in the shootout to the Hurricanes.
The highlight of the week was the win over the Panthers. Florida is bad and is really isn’t anything special to beat them. Unless, of course, two of your top players and your head coach are castaways from that team. The Panthers gave Vegas Jon Marchessault at the expansion draft to unload Reilly Smith, and, of course, they combined for five points in the win.
2nd: Los Angeles Kings
20-10-4 (44 points) / +22 goal differential
Part of the reason why Vegas was able to jump to the top of the standings is because the Kings have gone into a slump. After winning eight games in a row, L.A. dropped all three of their games last week in a New York swing. They got dropped in regulation by the Devils and Rangers and lost in overtime to the Islanders.
The key for the Kings all season has been phenomenal goaltending, but last week they allowed 13 goals in three games. They hadn’t allowed four goals in a game since Nov. 19, but they did in all three games last week.
3rd: San Jose Sharks
17-10-4 (38 points) / +10 goal differential
San Jose continued their solid play last week, beating the Flames and losing to Vancouver and Minnesota in overtime. They haven’t lost a game in regulation since Dec. 4 and continue to slowly climb up the Pacific Division standings despite having played fewer games than anyone else.
They’ve allowed the fewest goals of anyone in the league and Aaron Dell, just like we all expected, has the league’s best goals against average and save percentage thus far.
4th: Calgary Flames
17-14-3 (37 points) / -5 goal differential
The Flames had a frustrating week, winning just one of their four games. They god edged by Minnesota in a shootout, dropped a one-goal game to San Jose, got shutout by Nashville, but finished the week with a 6-1 bombing of the Canucks.
Elsewhere, the Calgary arena saga continued with Eric Francis writing an article for the Sun about the Flames being moved to Houston within the next three years. Pierre LeBrun countered by saying there’s no belief that the Flames would actually be moved.
RC said plan is for Ryan Kesler (hip surgery) to go on road trip. Nick Ritchie, Hampus Lindholm and Joseph Blandisi, who all have differing upper-body ailments,— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) December 12, 2017
will travel as well. Ritchie scheduled to practice tomorrow. Blandisi an option for Thursday in STL.
5th: Anaheim Ducks
14-11-8 (36 points) / -7 goal differential
The Ducks welcomed Ryan Getzlaf back last week and the team responded by going 2-0-1. They beat Carolina and St. Louis but got dropped in overtime by Washington. All in all, though, it was a great week for Anaheim who hadn’t won back-to-back games since mid-November.
Ryan Kesler will also be back soon as he’s with the team on their eastern road trip. The Ducks did an excellent job of staying above water with their top two centres on the Injured Reserve, and now they seem poised for a surge.
The Hockey Gods definitely hate us.— Tony Strecher (@TonyStrecher) December 18, 2017
Brock Boeser - unknown
Bo Horvat - 4-6 weeks
Chris Tanev - 2-3 weeks
Sven Baertschi 4-6 weeks
Brandon Sutter - 4 weeks so far
Erik Gudbranson 4 weeks so far
Derek Dorsett - end of career
Evan McEneny - entire season
6th: Vancouver Canucks
15-15-4 (34 points) / -18 goal differential
It was a disastrous week for the Canucks. They got pounded 5-1 and 7-1 by Winnipeg and Nashville, snapped a four-game losing streak with an overtime win over San Jose, then got pounded again 6-1 by Calgary.
The worst part, though, is that rookie Brock Boeser got hurt in the loss to Calgary. His status is up in the air, but it seems likely the Canucks will be without Boeser for a while, which is terrible for them because just last week they lost Bo Horvat to an ankle injury.
7th: Edmonton Oilers
14-17-2 (30 points) / -11 goal differential
The Oilers continued their rollercoaster of a season last week. They beat the Blue Jackets 7-2 on the road, got shutout 4-0 by Nashville at home, and then beat Minnesota 3-2 on the road. The Oilers are running out of runway and have a lot of ground to make up, but thankfully for them, they got Cam Talbot back from injury and Adam Larsson and Andrej Sekera aren’t far behind.
8th: Arizona Coyotes
7-23-5 (19 points) / -44 goal differential
The Coyotes lost all three of their games last week and are now on a six-game losing streak. Six games seems like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to the 11-straight games they lost to open the season.