Pacific Division Roundup: Oilers gain ground on Kraken, keep pace with Kings and Golden Knights
8 months ago
There are just a few weeks left in the 2022-23 NHL season and there’s plenty of room for movement among the Western Conference standings.
Let’s go through how the teams in the division did last week and what they have on the horizon…
The Edmonton Oilers’ week:
The Oilers have sneakily put together an impressive string of 10 games. They are 7-3 in their last ten, with each of those losses coming against teams in the playoffs (Boston Bruins, Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets).
This past week, they beat the Ottawa Senators 6-3, which essentially made the playoffs a pipe dream for that team. Next up was the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars, with the Oilers winning 4-1. Edmonton then got a huge win against the Seattle Kraken, beating their Pacific Division rival 6-4.
Edmonton captain Connor McDavid has 134 points and 58 goals in just 70 games. It’s unreal that we get to watch this man in his prime because he’s easily the best player since Wayne Gretzky. Hopefully, 2023 will be the first season that he wins a Stanley Cup.
It’s a rather easy week coming up for the Oilers, as they’ll host the San Jose Sharks on Monday, the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday, and a huge game against the Pacific Division leaders, the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.
The Vegas Golden Knights’ week:
Since the start of March, the Knights are 8-2, with deadline acquisition Jonathan Quick being 4-1 after his first five games.
They had a solid week, beating the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3, and losing to the Calgary Flames 7-2, before rebounding against the Columbus Blue Jackets, beating them 7-2.
The Knights are sitting pretty at the top of the Pacific Division with 92 points. However, they’ll play the Oilers twice (86 points) within the next two weeks, two big games for both teams.
Their next four games are against the three Canadian Pacific Division teams, with games on the road against the Canucks on Tuesday, the Flames on Thursday, and the Oilers on Saturday. Their other game against the Oilers will take place on March 28th.
The Los Angeles Kings’ week:
The Kings definitely have a chance to win the Pacific Division (90 points), but if the playoffs were to start today, they’d have another first-round series against the Edmonton Oilers, but they’d have the home-ice advantage.
After moving club legend, Jonathan Quick, the Kings acquired Joonas Korpisalo from the Columbus Blue Jackets. With the Kings, the Finnish goaltender had a .921 save percentage in his four games, and the Kings are 3-0-1 with him in goal.
This upcoming week, they have a game against the Flames on Monday, a game against the Jets on Saturday, and a game against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. They also have two remaining games against the Oilers, one on March 30th, and the other on April 4th.
The Seattle Kraken’s week:
The Oilers have made some separation from the Seattle Kraken, as there are three points separating the two teams, with the Kraken having a game in hand.
It was a rough week for the newest NHL team, losing 5-2 to the Dallas Stars, and beating the worst Western Conference team, the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in overtime, before losing 6-4 to the Oilers on Saturday.
This upcoming week, they’ll once again play the Stars (the third time in six games), before two games against the Nashville Predators at home. Just a weird schedule. Their final two games (April 11th and 13th) will be a home and home against the Knights. They also have three games against the Arizona Coyotes in April.
Here’s how the three former Oilers did for the Kraken this past week:
Jordan Eberle, 3 games played, 1 goal, 0 assists, 0 plus minus
Justin Schultz 3 games played, 0 goals, 0 assists, -1
Adam Larsson 3 games played, 0 goals, 2 assists, +1
It will be a big week for the Kraken, but hopefully, the Oilers can generate even more separation by the next Pacific Division roundup.
The Calgary Flames’ week:
The bad Albertan team is the team looking from the outside in. Currently, on 77 points in 70 games, they are four points behind the Jets with a game in hand.
With that being said, their chances of making the playoffs for a second year in a row are dwindling quite rapidly. They earned four points this past week, losing in overtime to both the Coyotes and the Stars, but had a big win against the Knights.
This upcoming week, they’ll play the Kings on Monday, the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, the Knights on Thursday, and the Sharks on Saturday. They are a desperate team in need of wins, and if they could beat the Kings and Knights, that would be huge for the Oilers.
There’s still a pathway to play the Oilers in the first round, but the Flames would have to finish in a wildcard spot, with the Oilers winning the Pacific Division. It doesn’t seem likely, to say the least.
The bad teams (the Connor Bedard race) of the Pacific:
Vancouver Canucks: I was hesitant to put the Canucks here for a while, but they are just so far out of the playoffs (67 points, 15 out) that they end up here. Interestingly, they actually had a good week, beating the Stars 5-2, losing 3-2 to the Coyotes, beating the Kings 3-2 (thanks), and beating the Ducks 2-1. Overall, they are 25th in the league, meaning they have a 6% chance of winning the first overall pick.
Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks had a subpar week, losing 6-3 to the New York Islanders, beating fellow tankers, the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-4, before losing to the Canucks 2-1. They currently sit 29th overall in the league and have a 9.5% chance of winning the first overall pick.
San Jose Sharks: Edmonton’s opponent on Monday, the Sharks have completely fallen apart in recent weeks, as they are currently on a six-game losing streak, and are 4-12-3 since the all-star break. They have a 13.5% chance of winning the Connor Bedard sweepstakes.
As it stands:
Here are the Wild-Card Standings as of Monday, March 20th…
The Oilers are still in contention to win the division, but they need to start making up ground quickly. They’ll have a good chance to do so in the next two weeks, as they’ll play the Vegas Golden Knights twice in the next four games.
Per Tankathon (the same site I used for the lottery odds), the Oilers have the third easiest schedule remaining, with two games remaining against both the Knights and Kings, the two teams they are chasing. They also have three against the Sharks, two against the Ducks, and two against the Coyotes.
In comparison, Vegas has the eighth hardest schedule remaining, while the Kings have the 21st most difficult schedule remaining. With games remaining against teams ahead of them in the standings, it’s paramount that the Oilers win the rest of the season.
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