It's been fun bringing you these Pacific Snapshots so far in the 2015-16 season, and we now head into 2016 with our first one of the new year. For those of you just joining us, this feature runs every other week, as we take a look at the current Pacific Division standings and how all seven teams fared since our last edition. This time around we have some significant movement in the standings for the first time in a while, so let's get right into it. All of our advanced stats come to you courtesy of War on Ice and are at even strength only.
CF%: Corsi For % (percent of all shot attempts)
FF%: Fenwick For % (percent of unblocked shot attempts)
PDO: Save percentage plus shooting percentage
SC%: Scoring Chance %, based on shot location
HSC%: High-danger scoring chance %, based on shot location
|1. Los Angeles||39||25||12||2||52||23||105||87||+18||
|5. San Jose
1. Los Angeles (last time: 1, record since 12/24: 5-1-0): Obviously things were great in Kings-land for the past couple weeks, as LA was riding high with a 5-game win streak before they laid an egg in Denver last night. Can't win 'em all, I guess. After a very road-heavy December (10 of 14 were away from Staples), the Kings have a lot of home games coming up. Thursday's tilt against the Maple Leafs starts a stretch where LA will play 6 of 7 at home, with the only road game being a quick trip over to Anaheim to face the Ducks. January then wraps up with a short 2-game road trip (at Arizona and San Jose) and another home game against the Avalanche. So if the Kings can make hay at home this month, their Pacific lead has a chance to look even more ridiculous than it already does. Oh, that's a 10-point lead they have. I haven't mentioned that yet, have I? Who the hell would have predicted this team would have a double-digit points lead in the Pacific on January 5th?! Don't get me wrong, the Kings are always fantastic, but they aren't exactly well-known for their regular season dominance. At this rate, it would take one heck of a collapse for the Kings not to win their first-ever Pacific Division title (yes, I'm serious, they've never won this division, how sad is that).
2. Arizona (last time: 4, record since 12/24: 3-1-2): Back on December 9th, I wrote this about the Coyotes, who at the time were in fourth place and fading fast: "In hindsight, it seems very possible (if not likely) that we'll look back at this period as the time last time the Coyotes were remotely relevant in the Pacific division." Since I wrote that, they've gone 6-2-3 just to make sure I look like an idiot. Winning one more game than you've lost shouldn't be that impressive, but in this terrible division picking up a bunch of loser points goes an awful long way, so here the Coyotes are in 2nd place. Now, a few disclaimers: this is still a pretty bad hockey team (they now have the worst Corsi & Fenwick numbers in the division, and it's not even really close) that has a lot of room to regress backwards. Their 9.5% 5v5 shooting percentage currently leads the entire NHL, which I would really doubt is remotely reflective of their actual skill level. Still, they've finally got even the tiniest bit of separation on the rest of the field, 3 points ahead of the Ducks & Canucks, so maybe they'll be able to hold on by the skin of their teeth for a little while at least.
3. Anaheim (last time: 7, record since 12/24: 4-0-1): Speaking of those Ducks, yes, they have indeed charged all the way up the standings from last place to a playoff spot. Getting 9 out of a possible 10 points will help you in any division, but in this trash fire it's practically a golden ticket. It's also time to admit to ourselves that the Ducks are a really good team that got buried by the percentages early on: their puck possession numbers have now climbed all the way to 3rd in the entire league in both Corsi & Fenwick, and their scoring chance percentages just keep going up after a rough start there. They still have loads of room to regress positively if you look at their PDO, too. The Ducks probably need to start winning a few road games here and there, but this is so clearly the 2nd best team in this division.
4. Vancouver (last time: 3, record since 12/24: 2-2-0): The Canucks had a mediocre couple of weeks, going exactly .500 to remain "a game below .500" (in NHL world, anyway). That wasn't enough for them to hang onto their playoff spot; though they're tied in points with Anaheim, the Ducks have two games in hand along with 3 more ROWs. As we've been over a million times, Vancouver's a bad hockey team propped up by a lot of loser points, and it's tough to see how they're going to remain in the race in the second-half of the year without a lot of luck in their favor.
5. San Jose (last time: 2, record since 12/24: 1-2-0): The big dropper this week was San Jose, who fell all the way from 2nd to 5th due to playing the fewest games of anyone and having a pretty bad record, a not-so-good combination. The Sharks only won 1 of their 3 games, beating the Flyers for a rare home win but losing to the Avalanche & Jets, both at home as well. Their record at the 'ol Shark Tank (has there ever been a more appropriate name for a team's arena, by the way) remains kind of a joke at 5-11-0, and they desperately need to get that turned around soon. For the rest of January, they'll play 9 of 11 at home, so they'll have ample opportunity. As far as their position in the standings goes, it isn't quite as dire as it looks; with only 37 games played, they have games-in-hand on everyone in the division, and with 38 points they still sit only 4 points out of 2nd place. I still think they probably make the playoffs and stuff, but they're definitely making it more interesting than it needs to be. Their awful home record is just hilarious and I hope that continues all year long.
6. Calgary (last time: 5, record since 12/24: 2-2-0): The Flames weren't awful or anything with a .500 record in the past few weeks, but still dropped down a spot due to how great the Ducks have been lately. This remains a deeply mediocre hockey team that's getting kneecapped by bad goaltending, and there's not much else to say about them.
7. Edmonton (last time: 6, record since 12/24: 2-3-1): Welcome back to the basement, Edmonton. It's like you never left.
So that's what happened in the Pacific over the holidays. Let's take a quick look at the upcoming week for all seven teams. All times are Pacific of course.
||Fri 1/8||Sat 1/9||Sun 1/10||Mon 1/11|
And that's all for now, thanks as always for reading. See you next time!