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Pacific Division Roundup: California teams on brink of historic blow

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Los Angeles Kings v Anaheim Ducks Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It’s the Christmas edition of the Pacific Division Roundup. Merry Christmas, everybody! But before Christmas festivities, let’s take a look at the state of Pacific Division and the NHL in general for the one final time this year — the calendar year, I mean.

Look at the Western Conference standings and say what three teams you see right at the bottom of it. Yes, the Anaheim Ducks, the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings (with the Kings being once again dead-last on the list).

It’s not really a surprise to see the Ducks and Kings being low in the standings. What about the Sharks, though? San Jose has won one of their last 10 games. A grueling number that is, for sure. Since Peter DeBoer was told to pack his suitcase and sail away from the Bay, the Sharks are 1-4-0 in five home games.

One would feel pretty darn sorry for Erik Karlsson, who has committed eight years to that franchise in hopes of pursuing a Stanley Cup. It doesn’t look like a Stanley Cup season for San Jose, though. They are tied in points with the Kings. It’s that horrible for the Sharks. Last year, San Francisco sports had at least a shot at the NBA and the NHL championship. This season, oh well.

Should we look forward to the Kings meeting the Sharks on Friday?

In 1996, neither of three California teams made the Stanley Cup playoffs. Since then, every season at least one NHL club from California has made the playoffs, with three Stanley Cups in total for California. Almost 24 years later, history may repeat itself.

At the top of the Pacific Division is the Arizona Coyotes. The Yotes have pulled the trigger and acquired Taylor Hall from the New Jersey Devils. It’s the Yotes’ time to finally break the bank and make the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.

Otherwise, it’s wide open. Currently, the fifth-placed Vancouver Canucks, outside of a playoff spot, are still only four points away from first place in the Division. The Kings are 12 points out of first place in the Pacific Division. Last season on January 2, the Blues were 11 points out of the playoff picture and still won the Stanley Cup. There’s always a chance!

Circle Around the NHL

The Boston Bruins had lost eight of nine games headed into Monday night’s clash against the league-leading Washington Capitals. In that game, the Bruins scored four first-period goals to stun the Caps. Boston has lost eight straight at home facing Washington, 16 of their last 17 head-to-head meetings overall. Yet, in the middle of the biggest slump of their season, they beat the impeccable Capitals 7-3. Remember, anything can happen in the NHL on any given night.

Around the Christmas table, there are only three teams with at least 50 points. The Capitals lead them all with 57 points, the St. Louis Blues with 54 points lead the West (we have seen why on Monday at Staples Center), and the Bruins with 53 points lead the Atlantic Division. All those three teams aforementioned are leading their respective divisions. And then there is Arizona leading the Pacific Division with 46 points.

The Kings are one goal away from 100 goals this season. There are five teams yet to reach that mark at the holiday break: New Jersey, Detroit, Columbus, Anaheim, and LA. By the way, the Blue Jackets have won five straight and are only two points away from the playoffs. Maybe they don’t need Bobrovsky, Duchene, Panarin or Dzingel after all.

Pacific Division Power Rankings

  1. Arizona Coyotes (=)
  2. Vegas Golden Knights (+2)
  3. Edmonton Oilers (-1)
  4. Calgary Flames (-1)
  5. Vancouver Canucks (=)
  6. Anaheim Ducks (+1)
  7. Los Angeles Kings (+1)
  8. San Jose Sharks (-2)

The Sharks occupying the bottom of our Pacific Division Power Rankings is not shocking. In their last 10 games, the Kings and the Ducks have shown much better capacity than San Jose. On another note, the Golden Knights after rough weeks are, slowly, starting to climb back to their expected position. Why would the Ducks top this “list” of the bottom three? They have the best goal differential (-18) with the least number of games played (37). The Kings are -25 and the Sharks -32.