The good times keep on rolling, as the Edmonton Oilers own the first wildcard, and have some momentum as well.
Remember back when I first started the Pacific roundup at the beginning of January? The landscape was much different, as the Oilers barely held down the second wildcard spot, and their playoff hopes weren’t guaranteed.
About 20 days later, they seem all but a lock to make the playoffs, especially with how easy the upcoming schedule is. The question is, how far can they go?
The Edmonton Oilers’ week:
The Oilers had a tough week, but they showed up. Their first win was against the Seattle Kraken, disposing of them in a 5-2 win. Their second game was against the Tampa Bay Lightning, edging them out in a 5-3 win (while blowing a two-goal lead). Finally, they beat the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, 4-2. Once again, they nearly blew the lead, this time a three-goal lead, but they ultimately prevailed.
Their win streak now sits at six, but here’s the thing… The Oilers just haven’t had a lot of success in terms of going on streaks.
Since the turn of the millennium, they’ve only won seven or more games in a row twice. One of these came in the 2006 playoffs, and the other came in the 2000-01 regular season. For context, I was only two years old the last time the Oilers had a winning streak of over six games in a regular season. I went more in-depth on a Twitter thread in the embedded Tweet below…
They have a chance to beat that with an incredibly easy schedule coming up in the next month. Their next seven games are against non-playoff teams, before eventually facing the New York Rangers on Feb. 17.
Next week, they’ll play the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Chicago Blackhawks, both at home. Afterward, they won’t play again until Feb. 7 after the all-star break.
The Vegas Golden Knights’ week:
Since suffering a 4-3 loss to the Oilers on Jan. 14, the Knights have struggled, as they have lost four of their last five. This past week saw them lose three of their four games, including losing to the Detroit Red Wings and the Arizona Coyotes.
Moreover, they’ve lost captain Mark Stone due to an upper-body injury (once again his back). It doesn’t help that 2015 second-overall pick Jack Eichel hasn’t lived up to expectations, according to this post-game press conference from head coach Bruce Cassidy.
They are still leading the Pacific Division, but the question remains for how long?
The Seattle Kraken’s week:
Like the Knights, the Kraken had a “meh week.” It started with a loss to the Oilers, before an overtime win against the New Jersey Devils, and then a shootout loss against the Colorado Avalanche.
They hold down the second spot in the division, but are 1-2-1 in their last four games, a far cry from the eight-game win streak they had prior to a loss to the Lightning. Next week, they play the Vancouver Canucks, the Calgary Flames, and the Columbus Blue Jackets (all at home), before the all-star break. They have two games in hand over the Oilers.
Here’s how the former Oilers on the Kraken did this past week:
Jordan Eberle: 3 games played, 0 goals, 0 assists, -4
Justin Schultz: 1 game played, 0 goals, 1 assist, -1 (injury after the Oilers game.)
Adam Larsson: 3 games played, 0 goals, 0 assists, -1
The Los Angeles Kings’ week:
Much like the rest of the Pacific Division (aside from Edmonton), the Kings didn’t have a great week. They were shutout 4-0 in their first game of the week against the Dallas Stars. They then lost their second game of the week 5-3 to the Nashville Predators, before unconvincingly beating the Blackhawks 2-1.
Prior to that win, the Oilers actually sat in the third spot in the division, but now they have a game in hand and are trailing the Kings by just a single point. No hot takes here, except for the fact that netminder Pheonix Copley should consider spelling Phoenix correctly.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Kings start to falter a little bit, as they just don’t have the goaltending to truly succeed.
The Calgary Flames’ week:
The Colorado Avalanche are starting to play those games they had in hand, and that paid off for them this week, as they booted the Calgary Flames out of a wildcard position (while still having two games in hand).
One of their losses actually came at the hands of the Avalanche, as they lost 4-1 in their mid-week game. The Flames also suffered a 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators. Thankfully for them, they beat the Lightning 6-3 on Hockey Day in Canada, giving them 53 points for the season.
Like the Oilers, they have a pretty simple week ahead of them, playing the Blue Jackets, the Blackhawks, and the Kraken before the all-star break.
The Vancouver Canucks’ week:
When I started writing these roundups, the Canucks had 35 points and trailed the Oilers for the final wildcard by seven points. They’ve won twice in the following three weeks, which leads me to a rant about how they’ve handled the Bruce Boudreau scenario:
The Canucks have been Casucking this season. They are closer to competing for Connor Bedard than they are to a playoff position. The expectations for the Canucks weren’t very high, so the fact that they wanted to fire Bruce Boudreau mid-season is… odd to say the least.
What’s more, his fate has apparently been sealed since November, yet they continue to trot him out to post-game press conferences? That’s just cruel.
When your entire fan base is chanting out Boudreau’s name in a 4-2 loss to the Oilers, you’ve either A) severely mishandled the situation, or B) the fan base doesn’t think he’s to blame (and they like him!) What’s more, is that it appears the players don’t want Boudreau gone either, as they apparently went to shake his hand one by one after Saturday’s loss.
It’s not hard to imagine that upcoming free agents are already crossing Vancouver off their list of potential landing spots. The organization has become a garbage fire, and Bruce Boudreau deserves much better.
It was announced on Sunday morning that Bruce Boudreau, along with a few members of his coaching staff, have been fired, while Rick Tocchet, as expected, will be coming in as his replacement.
The bad teams of the Pacific Division:
Both the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks still suck. Not much has changed, as one would suspect. The Ducks beat a fellow tankee in the Columbus Blue Jackets and went 1-2-1 in the week. The Sharks had an identical record, but managed to beat the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars, somehow. That was undone by a loss to the Blue Jackets.
Here’s how the former Oilers and Erik Karlsson did:
Erik Karlsson: 4 games, 2 goals, 4 assists, -2
Matt Benning: 3 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, +2 (injured in the Columbus game)
Ryan Strome: 4 games, 0 goals, 4 assists, +2
Dmitry Kulikov: 4 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, +3
As it stands:
Here are the Pacific Division standings as of Monday, January 23rd…
The Oilers are in a strong position. They only sit a win out of the top three of the division and are four points safe in a wildcard position. Their next seven games will come against teams that aren’t currently in a playoff position, so they need to win at least five of the next seven.
It truly seems like things are on the up and up for the Oilers, and hopefully, the all-star break doesn’t derail their momentum!
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