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Pacific Division Roundup: Oilers surging, Sharks suffer blow

Los Angeles Kings v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

Welcome back for another edition of the Pacific Division Roundup, as the NHL calendar swings well into the second half of the season. The Los Angeles Kings still, somehow, are not the worst team in the Division, but only by a single point.

After three miserable home losses to the Predators, the Blue Jackets, and the Stars, the Kings on back-to-back nights have lit it up in Vegas, beating the Golden Knights 5-2. The Kings improved to 2-1-0 in this season’s series versus Vegas after their first visit to T-Mobile Arena. Right below them in the division, as well as the conference, are the Anaheim Ducks with 39 points.

The San Jose Sharks try to spark an improbable comeback to make the playoffs in a seemingly lost season. The Sharks, with 44 points, are currently eight points outside of the playoff picture. Last week, the Sharks won back-to-back games on the road and had another win brewing in Washington. How can you possibly squander a two-goal lead with less than a minute to go in the third period?

After returning home, the Sharks have received both good and bad news. The Blue Jackets came to the Bay Area to finish their California swing. Their attempt for a road sweep went nowhere, as the Sharks won 3-1. However, the Sharks lost their captain Logan Couture for multiple weeks with a fractured ankle. For San Jose’s efforts for a miraculous run, that’s a mighty blow.

On the other end of the Pacific Division standings (well, it’s not much of distance as in the Atlantic Division, for example, where the Red Wings are 38 points away from the top spot. In fact, the Pacific Division has the smallest gap between the first and the last team in 15 points) there is a logjam. Four teams atop the division are separated by only one point. The Coyotes can call themselves a division leader, but they are just one point away from being the fourth team, and only four points away from being a non-playoff team.

The Oilers are surging lately. After losing eight out of ten, the Oilers almost blew a 6-0 lead at home to the Rangers. Embarking on the road trip in the East, Edmonton handed the net to the veteran Mike Smith. Smith has been impressive with a 3-0-1 record. Of course, when Connor McDavid scores goals like these, life’s good.

Circle Around the NHL

Ilya Kovalchuk has three assists in his first three games with the Montreal Canadiens. The Russian veteran arrived just in time to help the Habs shed their five-game losing skid. Wait, they are on an eight-game losing slide now, their worst in many years. Didn’t he want to sign with a contender?

In the NHL, life is fickle as it can get. The Vancouver Canucks, on a seven-game winning streak, lost 9-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Then, they lost to the Panthers, and instantly they lie outside of the playoffs. Battling for a playoff berth, not even a seven-game winning streak means anything. Just imagine what would have been without such a streak.

So, the Lightning have won nine straight contests, roaring back to that 62-win status from a year ago. They would love a different outcome, wouldn’t they?

Minnesota has lost four of its most recent five games, the Blackhawks have lost three out of three tilts. Those are huge blows for their attempts to make the playoffs in a rather competitive Central Division.

Pacific Division Power Rankings

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

Not a lot of moves occurred in this week’s Pacific Division Power Rankings. The Golden Knights remain atop the list, and if they don’t go down 3-0 constantly, they can probably pull it together. The Coyotes have a talented roster still, but the injuries to Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper are hurting them. The Oilers, once again, attested that they have a valid team. They are haven’t been able to make it to the playoffs at all. Maybe that will switch this year.