Today I bring you an abbreviated version of the Pacific Snapshot: the Christmas Break edition. Yes, with everyone celebrating and/or grinching, we'll try to keep this short(er than usual at least). Below you'll find the current Pacific Division standings as the NHL enjoys a three-day break. All fancy stats are at even strength and come courtesy of War On Ice:
|1. Los Angeles||33||20||11||2||42||18||84||76||+8||
|2. San Jose
1. Los Angeles (last time: 1, record since 12/9: 2-3-1): Things have not been going particularly great for the Kings lately, as Jonathan Quick highlighted during the post-game of that godawful Sharks encounter with his "1 win in our last 5" comment. It's not like the Kings have really even been playing up to their usual standards and just getting unlucky, either; in those 5 games, the Kings have just a 51.7% Corsi and 52.3% Fenwick at even strength. Those would be very solid marks for a lot of teams, but for the Kings it's well-off the puck possession dominance we've all come to expect from them. Hopefully the break will allow them to rest, recharge, and get back to playing the kind of hockey they've shown they can play before. As it is, they're lucky they play in such a garbage division because if they had better teams chasing them, this slump could have been utterly disastrous instead of merely worrying.
2. San Jose (last time: 2, record since 12/9: 3-2-2): The Sharks put up a good 3-2-2 record, although had they been able to win just a few more games they would be putting a lot more pressure on the Kings for the top spot than they currently are. 6 points back is certainly not an enormous gap (though the Kings do have a game in hand) and obviously winning in Staples the way they did was impressive. But the Sharks still don't look like a truly elite team, and their underlying numbers continue to bear that out. If they're going to catch the Kings, it will likely involve a lot of luck (good on their part and bad on the Kings) and/or the Kings' recent downward trend in play continuing. Perhaps more importantly for the Sharks, they're starting to look more like a solid 2nd seed in the division and can start to put some space between themselves and the rest of the pack if they continue to pick up points.
3. Vancouver (last time: 3, record since 12/9: 3-3-1): The world's biggest joke of a playoff team continued their march of mediocrity with a .500 record. This is such a weird team; just in these past few weeks alone, they went through a stretch where they were shut out in 2 of 3 games and then immediately followed that up by scoring 7 goals in their next 2. They're just kind of floating along doing absolutely nothing, and without their huge edge in games played (they've played 36 compared to 33 or 34 for everyone else in the division except Edmonton) they would not have this spot anymore. But I've been waiting for the Canucks to drop out for like a month now, so now I'm fully expecting them to be .500 every two weeks and yet somehow never drop out of this playoff spot, because apparently that's just what they do.
4. Arizona (last time: 4, record since 12/9: 3-1-1): The Coyotes played all of their last 5 games at home and made the most of this light and travel-free schedule, picking up 7 out of a possible 10 points. They sit one point back of the Canucks for the last Pacific spot and have a staggering 3 games in hand on them, so the team we all kind of left for dead two weeks ago (when they had gone 3-5-0) looks like they've at least got a pulse again. And hey, they're a game above .500 too, which is more than the Canucks can say!
5. Calgary (last time: 6, record since 12/9: 5-2-0): Finally some movement in these standings! The Flames rose up from 6th to 5th on the strength of a very nice 5-2-0 run, finally getting a save every once in a while (their .932 sv% at even strength in the past 2 weeks is only 12th in the league during that span, but compare that to their full season mark of .905, 2nd worst, and uh....yeah. better). They're definitely back in this playoff race, also sitting a point behind the Canucks and with 2 games-in-hand. None of their underlying numbers suggest this is a good team or anything, but considering the two teams they're chasing are both pretty bad too, anything is possible.
6. Edmonton (last time: 7, record since 12/9: 4-3-0): Calgary's neighbors to the Alberta north also saw a modest rise in the standings, as they got out of the basement and into 6th place with a 4-3-0 record. Last time we did this the Oilers put up a 4-2-1 record, so at least that's two Snapshots in a row with a winning mark for the lovable losers. Progress has to start somewhere, I guess. They're also only 3 points out of a playoff spot (with a game-in-hand on Vancouver) but considering they'd have to climb over Arizona & Calgary both I'm not really ready to call them "back in the race" just yet.
7. Anaheim (last time: 5, record since 12/9: 1-3-1): Hahahaha. Hello, old friends! Fancy seeing you down here in the basement! So the last time we did this, the Ducks were coming off a 4-2-1 record and were just 1 point behind the Canucks for the final Pacific playoff spot. It looked for all the world like they were getting ready to take their rightful place with the Kings & Sharks. The Ducks followed that up by....getting 3 out of a possible 10 points. Yep. That pathetic performance has sent them crashing down into the Pacific basement. And though they have a lot of games in hand on Vancouver (3 to be exact), they're now staring at a 5-point deficit, which is certainly a hell of a lot more than 1. Ryan Getzlaf still doesn't have a goal on an actual NHL goaltender. And he's still bald. May things stay this bad for the Ducks forever, amen.
You're all caught up now on the last two weeks in the Pacific Division. Let's go ahead and take a look at the upcoming schedules for all these teams, starting when the NHL resumes on Saturday:
||Tue 12/29||Wed 12/30||Thurs 12/31||Friday 1/1|
|LA||@ARI (6:00)||-||@VAN (7:00)
||vs.COL (7:30)||-||vs.PHI (7:30)||-
|ARI||vs.LA (6:00)||@COL (5:00)||-||vs.CHI (6:00)
||vs.EDM (6:00)||-||vs.ANA (6:00)||-
|EDM||@VAN (7:00)||@CGY (6:00)||-
|ANA||-||vs.PHI (5:00)||-||@CGY (6:00)||-||@EDM (6:00)||@VAN (7:00)
That's all for now, thanks everyone for reading. Have a happy holidays, should you choose to celebrate one. We'll see you again in a couple of weeks.