Photo credit:Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Pacific Division Notebook: LA Kings surge, Canucks chug along, and Flames starting selling
2 months ago
We’re getting quite far into the season now.
As the calendar flips to December, it’s time to look at how the Pacific Division is shaping up after nearly two months of action.
THE NOTEBOOK IS PRESENTED BY BETWAY
Vegas Golden Knights:
16-5-5, 83 goals for, 61 goals against
The defending Stanley Cup champions have a had a rough ride over the last month, going 5-5-4 after an incredibly hot start.
After 26 games, Jack Eichel is their leading point-getter as he has 11 goals and 28 points. William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault are tied in goals, while Mark Stone and Karlsson are the only other players with 20 or more points.
Their best player by far has been Adin Hill. The 27-year-old netminder took over the crease during the Oilers series in the 2023 playoffs, and carried the team to their first ever Stanley Cup and signed a sizable contract. He’s made Vegas look like geniuses, as he has a .935 sav e percentage and a 1.87 goals-against average in 14 games.
Vegas is going to be a difficult team to beat.
16-8-1, 96 goals for, 64 goals against
Every time I write an article in this series, it feels like the Canucks are just one bad week from coming back to earth. But this may be their earth.
With 96 goals on the season, the Canucks are by far the leaders in that regard. J.T. Miller leads the team in points with 36 and is tied for second in the league. Defenceman Quinn Hughes is tied for fifth in points and is tied for the most by a defenceman with 34. Elias Pettersson is also in the top 10 with 32 points. If that’s not enough, Brock Boeser leads the league in goals with 17.
On top of a well-run skater core, Thatcher Demko’s .924 save percentage is seventh in the league, while his 2.26 goals-against average is the fifth highest. Man, it must be nice having a team that can score and also save pucks.
Vancouver seems like the real deal this year.
Los Angeles Kings:
14-4-3, 81 goals for, 50 goals against
The Kings are a young team that’ll be a force to be reckoned with for years. While they sit third in the Pacific Division, they are just two points back of Vegas with five games in hand and six points back of Vegas with five games in hand.
Adrian Kempe leads the team in points with 22 in 21 games. Trevor Moore is second on the team with 20 points, and leads the team in goals with 12. Anže Kopitar and Kevin Fiala also have 20 points each, with young-gun Quinton Byfield registering six goals and 18 points.
The biggest surprise for the Kings is that 36-year-old netminder Cam Talbot has been phenomenal. The former Oiler has a .930 save percentage (tied for third) and a 1.96 goals-against average (second) in 16 games played. Defence has helped a lot, but who would have guessed?
I wouldn’t be all to surprised if the Kings get the first seed in the west this season.
10-11-3, 71 goals for, 82 goals against
There are three really good teams in the Pacific Division, and then there are the rest. Calgary has been underachieving quite a bit this season, and even moved on from defenceman Nikita Zadorov for draft picks, trading him to the Canucks.
The Flames have a bunch of played with 10 or more points, 11 players to be exact. Elias Lindholm leads the team in goals and points with seven goals and 17 points. Rookie sensation Connor Zary has three goals and 10 points in 14 games and has been a breath of fresh air for the team since entering the lineup.
Netminder Jacob Markström is out “week-to-week” with a fractured finger, meaning an already precarious goaltending situation has worsened. Markström had played the bulk of the Flames games, posting an .896 save percentage and 2.94 goals-against average in 16 games. Daniel Vladar has played seven games and has an .883 save percentage and a 3.20 goals-against average. To replace Markström, the Flames have called up Dustin Wolf.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Flames trade more expiring free agents for picks before the trade deadline.
8-12-6, 70 goals for, 92 goals against
The Seattle Kraken just aren’t very good. In 26 games (tied for most in the league), they’ve only picked up 22 points and sit five points outside of a playoff spot with a bunch of teams around them having games in hand.
Like with the last few Pacific Division Notebooks, most of their scoring have come from two players – Vince Dunn and Oliver Bjorkstrand. The former has four goals and 21 points, while the latter has seven goals and 20 points. Jared McCann is their leading scorer with 12 goals and 17 points. Jaden Schwartz, who has also been producing points quite a bit was recently placed on the injured list.
Goaltending has been rough for the Kraken, with Philipp Grubauer playing the majority of games for Seattle and owning an .883 save percentage and a 3.35 goals-against average in 15 games. Joey Daccord has an .898 save percentage and a 2.92 goals-against average in 13 games.
After making it to Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals, it appears that Seattle may not return to the postseason.
10-14-0, 67 goals for, 84 goals against
The Ducks are a weird team. They got off to a hot start, but cooled off considerably after Lukáš Dostál’s play took a hit. Still, with a weak Western Conference, they’re hanging around and are only seven points out of a playoff spot.
Frank Vatrano has been incredibly surprising this season, leading the Ducks with 14 goals and 23 points, while also being tied for eighth in the league in goals. Trevor Zegras’ play may have taken a hit prior to his injury, but Mason McTavish looks like the real deal as the 20-year-old has 10 goals and 21 points. Former Oiler Ryan Strome has three goals and 17 points, while defenceman Pavel Mintyukov has a goal and 13 points.
John Gibson has taken over the crease, owning a .907 save percentage and 2.80 goals-against average in 17 games played. A lot of their early success was built on Dostál’s play, but he hasn’t appeared in a game since the Oilers game where he allowed six goals on 16 shots.
The Ducks more than likely won’t even compete for a playoff spot this season, but they’re coming.
9-12-1, 74 goals for, 79 goals against
What a weird season it has been for the Oilers. After a rough start, they are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games played, including a four-game win streak that has been halted due to a large break in their schedule.
The big news is that Connor McDavid is starting to look like himself, as he has 13 points in this four-game win streak (and 12 of those came in the first three games). His, along with Leon Draisaitl’s 29 points rank tied for 12th in the league, and I’d imagine they’ll keep rising. Zach Hyman of all people lead the team in scoring with 12 goals, with Evander Kane trailing by just a goal. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ryan Bouchard have also been contributing, as they both have 18 points or more.
Heck, even goaltending has been better over this stretch. Stuart Skinner has started all but one game in the last ten, and he has a .905 save percentage over that time, which is really dragged down by two bad games against Tampa and Carolina.
They’ll still need a backup goaltender, perhaps they can find him on the last team?
San Jose Sharks:
6-17-2, 47 goals for, 102 goals against
Want to know a hilariously dumb fact? The 6-17-2 San Jose Sharks have more regulation wins than the 12-6-4 Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Sharks also have the fewest goals in the league (five less than the Ovechkin-led Capitals). Tomáš Hertl is their leading scorer with four goals and 18 points in 24 games. Fabian Zetterlund leads the team in goals with seven, and Mikael Ganlund is the only other Shark with ten or more points. Mike Hoffman and Anthony Duclair have six goals each, but more than likely won’t finish the season as Sharks as they’ll likely be traded.
Another player that could be traded is goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood. On the surface level, an .899 save percentage is not what the Oilers need, but pair that with an insanely high 3.72 goals-against average, and you can see that the 26-year-old is getting absolutely peppered. He carries a $2,350,000 cap hit for the next two seasons.
The Sharks are bad and I hope they get the first overall this season.
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