Pacific Division Roundup: December 26 to January 1

Brennan Delaney
10 months ago
The Edmonton Oilers are currently in the second wildcard spot to start the year 2023. Here is the week that was Dec. 26 – Jan.1.
Prior to the start of the week, the Oilers were on the outside looking in with 38 points, but a strong week facing rivals ahead of them in the standings helped their position. It seems fitting that the Oilers are the first team to look at…

The Edmonton Oilers’ week:

In the first game back from the Christmas break, the Oilers played the Flames in the last regular season game of the Battle of Alberta. The good guys stole the win due to the play of rookie goaltender Stuart Skinner, who stopped 46 of 47 shots. Connor McDavid added a goal that helped his Rocket Richard case as well.
If the Oilers stole a win on Dec. 27, they absolutely annihilated the Seattle Kraken on December 30th. McDavid had five points with a goal, Skinner got the win, and Jesse Puljujärvi scored his third of the season. The offensive outburst was even more impressive as Leon Draisaitl didn’t play in the game.
Edmonton wasn’t the only team that had their goalie steal a win, as Connor Hellebuyck saved 31 of 32 shots in a 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Jack Campbell looked good, despite his .882 save percentage. McDavid’s point streak also ended at 17 games, as he failed to register a point. The lack of Draisaitl and a back-to-back played into their performance.
As of Monday, the Oilers have 42 points and are tied with the Seattle Kraken (who are ahead due to playing three fewer games.) Moreover, the Oilers only sit one point behind the Calgary Flames. 
The Oilers have a favourable upcoming week, as all three games will be played at home. They’ll play the Kraken on Jan.3, the New York Islanders on Jan. 5, and the Colorado Avalanche on Jan. 7

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The Vegas Golden Knights’ week:

The division leaders didn’t look fantastic this past week. Their first game was a 4-2 loss to the second-place Los Angeles Kings. Brayden McNabb and Michael Amadio scored the Knights two goals, while goaltender Logan Thomas saved 21 shots on 24 shots on goal.
Losing to the Kings is acceptable, they’re a good team. Losing 3-2 in a shootout to the tanking Ducks though? Oof Mark Stone and Ben Hutton scored Vegas’ two goals, as Anaheim’s John Gibson saved 49 shots. Notably, Vegas’ starting goaltender Adin Hill was pulled after two quick goals, meaning that Thompson had a chance to redeem himself, as he saved all 22 shots he faced.
The Knights won their final game of the week, beating the Nashville Predators 5-4 in overtime. Chandler Stephenson had a goal and two assists, while Keegan Kolesar, Amadio, Nicholas Hague, and Reilly Smith all added a goal. Thompson saved 33 shots while facing 37, a rather busy week for the 25-year-old netminder.
Despite a subpar week, the Knights still sit first in the Pacific division with 52 points, four ahead of the Kings. In the upcoming week, they’ll be facing the Avalanche away on Jan. 2, the Pittsburgh Penguins at home on Jan. 5, and the Kings at home on Jan. 7

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The Los Angeles Kings’ week:

The Kings had a solid, but not great week. They beat the Golden Knights 4-2, with both Viktor Arvidsson and Phillip Danualt picking up a goal and two assists. Alex Iafallo also added a goal and an assist, with Gabriel Vilardi adding their fourth goal. Netminder Pheonix Copley saved 23 shots while facing 25 for a .920 save percentage.
On Jan. 29, they beat the Avalanche in a shootout for their first win in Colorado in nearly four years. Iafallo scored a goal and added an assist, with Danault, Vilardi, and Sean Walker adding the other three goals. Goaltender Copley struggled in this game, only saving 23 of 27 shots for a .852 save percentage.
Like Pacific teams this past week, they couldn’t win all of their games, as they lost 4-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers on New Year’s eve. Jonathan Quick struggled, allowing three goals on 222 shots, while Danault scored his third goal in as many games. Adrian Kempe added the other Kings’ goal.
The Kings currently have 48 points, four behind the Golden Knights and five ahead of the Flames. This week, they’ll be playing the Dallas Stars at home on Jan. 3, the Boston Bruins at home on Jan. 5, and the Knights in Las Vegas on Jan. 7.

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The Calgary Flames’ week:

The Flames started their week off the right way, with a 2-1 loss to the Oilers.
In their second game of the week, they beat the Seattle Kraken 3-2, with a big performance from backup netminder Daniel Vladar, who saved 29 of 31 shots. Nazem Kadri added a goal and an assist.
The Flames also beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 on New Year’s eve. Goaltender Jacob Markström saved 22 shots on 24 attempts, and MacKenzie Weegar added a goal and an assist.
The Alberta rival currently has 43 points and occupies the third spot in the Pacific. For the upcoming week, the Flames will play the Jets in Winnipeg on Jan. 3, the Islanders at home on Jan. 6 and the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago on Jan. 8.

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The Seattle Kraken’s week:

It was a tough week for the grunge team, as they dropped points to two Pacific rivals. First, they lost 3-2 to the Flames. Ryan Donato and Jamie Oleksiak scored the two Kraken goals. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer saved 41 of 44 shots, but it wasn’t enough to beat Calgary.
Then they got wrecked by the Oilers, losing 7-2. After keeping the team in the game against the Flames, Grubauer allowed three goals on just five shots before being replaced by Martin Jones, who didn’t play much better. Dutchman Daniel Sprong and crazy-eyes Brandon Tanev were the only two players to solve Skinner.
Seattle got back to winning ways on Jan. 1, beating the Islanders 4-1. Jones saved 18 of 19 shots, while Tanev scored his second goal in as many games. Moreover, Oliver Bjorkstrand netted his 5th goal of the season, former Oiler Adam Larsson scored his fourth goal of the season, and Eeli Tolvanen scored his first goal as a Kraken.
The Kraken are currently in the first wildcard position tied with the Oilers on 42 points. They’ll play Edmonton away on Jan. 3, the Toronto Maples Leafs away on Jan. 5, and the Ottawa Senators away on Jan. 7.

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The Vancouver Canucks’ week:

The Vancouver Canucks started their week off well, thumping the San Jose Sharks 6-2. Potential trade candidate Bo Horvat scored two goals and added two assists, while Brock Boeser scored a goal and assisted on two of them. Goaltender Spencer Martin got the win, saving 24 of 26 shots.
However, the week went downhill for the Canucks afterward. The Jets, who are somehow good this season, beat the Canucks 4-2. Backup goaltender Collin Delia kept Vancouver in the game as he saved 35 shots on 38 attempts, while Andrei Kuzmenko scored a goal and an assist.
As for the 3-2 loss to the Flames on New Year’s eve, former Oiler Ethan Bear registered an assist, while Elias Pettersson and Sheldon Dries scored Vancouver’s two goals.
Vancouver currently sits on 35 points and could end the 2022-23 season attempting to win the lottery to draft hometown prospect, Connor Bedard. 
The Cansucks will play the Islanders at home on Jan. 3, the Colorado Avalanche at home on Jan. 5, and the Jets in Winnipeg on Jan. 8.

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The bad Pacific teams’ week:

From time to time, the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks will be omitted from the weekly round-up. Why? Well because they absolutely suck. The only thing worth noting (aside from Anaheim’s win over Las Vegas) is the fact that right-shot defenceman Erik Karlsson had seven points, all assists, in the four games the Sharks played this week.
Unless either of these teams (and potentially Vancouver in the future) do something notable, like beat all Pacific teams in one week, they may not get a mention.

As it stands:

Below are the standings as of Monday, Jan. 2…
The Oilers are the only Pacific team that plays every game this week at home, so they’ll need to capitalize on that. Moreover, they have a chance to take over the first wildcard spot by beating the Kraken, and a good week could position them in third place by the next article!

Editor’s note: So, as you may have guessed, this is my first article for Oilers Nation. I write quite often about baseball at Blue Jays Nation, but hockey was my favourite sport growing up, and the Edmonton Oilers were my favourite team. If you want more sports content, consider following me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.

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