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Pacific Division Notebook: The Oilers and Kraken are gaining ground as the Kings have cooled off

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Photo credit:Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Brennan Delaney
1 month ago
It’s been a hot minute since we took a look at the Pacific Division standings.
A new team is currently the king, and it isn’t Los Angeles, two teams have fallen so far out of the picture that they aren’t even worth talking about, the Edmonton Oilers are gaining ground, and more. Let’s dig in.

Vancouver Canucks:

24-10-3, 142 goals for, 96 goals against
Vancouver’s surprising season has continued, as they now sit atop of the Pacific Division and tied for second in points for the entire league.
It’s quite a turnaround from last season, as they only had 35 points for the 25th best in the league. While they don’t have three players tied for the league lead in points anymore, J.T. Miller has 50 which is good enough to be tied for sixth. Defenceman Quinn Hughes is also ninth in the league in points, just edging out his brother Jack Hughes. Brock Boeser’s 24 goals have him tied for third in the league.
Goaltender Thatcher Demko’s save percentage has taken a hit since the last Pacific Notebook, as he has a .917 save percentage and 2.48 goals-against average in 26 games, but he’s still hovering around the top 10.
I, for one, would not like to play the Canucks in the playoffs.

Vegas Golden Knights:

22-11-5, 127 goals for, 106 goals against
Vegas once again looks like a formidable team as we’re near the halfway mark of the season.
Jack Eichel leads the team in points with 40, while he is second on the team in goals. Jonathan Marchessault leads the team with 17 goals, while Mark Stone (12 goals, 37 points) and William Karlsson (15 goals, 32 points) have all reached double digits in goal scoring.
Netminder Adin Hill leads the NHL in both goals-against average (1.93) and save percentage (.933%). However, he was placed on the injured reserve on December 21, leaving duties to Logan Thompson. Unlike Hill, Thompson hasn’t had the same success, as he has a .902 save percentage and a 2.81 goals-against average.
Once Hill returns from injury, it shouldn’t be too surprising if the Knights push for the top spot in the Pacific Division.

Los Angeles Kings:

20-9-5, 116 goals for, 83 goals against
The LA Kings are once again in third place in the Pacific Division, a spot in which they’ve finished for the past two years.
Despite being 36 years old, long-time King Anže Kopitar leads the team in points with 34 in 34 games, and is second on the team in goals with 14. Trevor Moore leads the team outright in goals with 17, while Adrian Kempe and Quinton Byfield have broached the double-digit goal mark. Kevin Fiala is third on the team in points with 31, but only has eight goals to his name in 2023-24.
Netminding was a supposed question mark for the Kings heading into this season, but they answered C, as in Cam Talbot. The 36-year-old has turned back the clock and has a .925 save percentage (fourth-best in the NHL) and a 2.10 goals-against average (second-best in the NHL) in 25 games played.
Now, a strong defence in front of him certainly doesn’t hurt (as opposed to Ottawa’s defence in 2022-23), but the Kings are rolling, especially on the road.

Edmonton Oilers:

19-15-1, 128 goals for, 112 goals against
Speaking about rolling, the Edmonton Oilers are 17-6-0 in their last 23 games and are one spot out of a playoff position with a game in hand.
As you can imagine, the offence is immaculate for the Oilers, as Connor McDavid has 14 goals and 53 points for third-best in the league. Lately, he’s been on a line with Zach Hyman (22 goals, 37 points) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (11 goals, 36 points), and it has been one of the best lines in the league. 
Their second line of Warren Foegele-Leon Draisaitl-Ryan McLeod has also been an unlikely source of scoring the past few weeks, as Foegele exploded for five points on New Year’s Eve while McLeod has started to put the puck in the net.
Of course, goaltending has also stabilized since their 2-9-1 record, as Stuart Skinner has a 14-4-0 record and a .913 save percentage over his last 18 games played. He’s still below a .900 save percentage (.895%), but after his horrendous start, it’s risen by .041. Calvin Pickard has filled in well in his six games played, posting a .904 save percentage and a 2.82 goals-against average.
The Oilers will have a rather easy month of January, playing only two teams ahead of them in the standings. They could legitimately push for a home-ice advantage in the first round.

Seattle Kraken:

15-14-9, 102 goals for, 114 goals against
Seattle may be tied with the Oilers with 39 points, but they have three more games played than Edmonton.
What’s more, is that they aren’t really built for out-scoring other teams. Defenceman Vince Dunn leads the team in points with 31 in 38 games, while only three players – Oliver Bjorkstrand, Eeli Tolvanen, and Jared McCann have reached double-digit goals. Out of the three of them, McCann leads the team with 14 goals. Former Oilers haven’t been producing for the team either, as Jordan Eberle has four goals and 16 points, leading guys like Kailer Yamamoto, Adam Larsson, and Justin Schultz.
The only bright spot for the Kraken this season has been goaltending, as Joey Daccord has emerged as a legitimate starter after a “meh” start. In 23 games played, he has a .919 save percentage and a 2.35 goals-against average. Phillip Grubauer has been injured since mid-December.
Seattle’s scoring-by-committee method has been largely nullified this season. Not just that,.but 2022-23 Calder Trophy winner Matty Beniers is hitting the sophomore slump, scoring just five goals and 18 points in 38 games.

Calgary Flames:

16-16-5, 110 goals for, 121 goals against
Ah, the Calgary Flames and their lack of scoring is… interesting. The bad Albertan team has 12 players with double-digit points, but Blake Coleman of all played leads the team in both goals and points with 14 and 27. Nazem Kadri is a close second with 10 goals and 26 points, while soon-to-be-traded Elias Lindholm isn’t playing like a guy who wants big money in free agency, scoring just eight goals and 24 points.
Jacob Markström has had a fine season, posting a .907 save percentage and a 2.65 goals-against average in 22 games. Like many other teams, though, their backup option remains iffy, as Daniel Vladar has a .886 save percentage and a 3.40 goals-against average in 11 games played.
It would be fun to see another edition of the Battle of Alberta, and who knows, as Oliver Kylington was recently loaned to their American Hockey League team on a rehab stint, making a strong defence even stronger. Still, Edmonton’s little brother needs to start putting pucks in the back of the net.

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