Pacific Division Roundup: Oilers are Neal-ed, Sharks are not
Plus: power rankings!
Our first edition of the Pacific Division Roundup is here! After we officially closed the first week of the NHL season, let’s see who’s hot and who’s not in the Kings’ division.
If you took atop the Pacific standings, you would find such teams as the... Edmonton Oilers? Anaheim Ducks? Well, that sounds really weird.
Of course, a hot start isn’t everything. Last year, we saw a 4-0 start from the New Jersey Devils and see how that ended up?
It’s 3-0 so far for both Edmonton and Anaheim. Maybe this year, the Devils are trying a different approach, starting their season 0-4. To add to the excitement, they also blew a 4-0 lead in the first game of the season.
The coldest team in the NHL as of now is the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks, possibly still on their preseason routines, are 0-4 to begin the regular season. Last year, San Jose was this close to winning the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately for them, they fell apart offensively after taking a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Final versus the Blues.
After losing Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture is their new captain. But the change in leadership can’t really explain why the Sharks are awful to start the season. In their first two games, the Golden Knights embarrassed them, outscoring them 9-2. Then, the Sharks lost 3-1 in Anaheim and 5-2 in Nashville. Three important division matchups to begin the season with and three significant losses.
Those same Predators come to Los Angeles on Saturday, as the Kings will host them for their home opener. The Preds are 2-1-0 so far; the only team to beat them happened to be the Red Wings.
How crazy can the first week of the NHL season be! Now let’s talk about the Pacific Division leaders. The Oilers, who beat the Kings on Saturday, are red-hot to start the campaign. Connor McDavid is still excellent, so is Leon Draisaitl, we already know that. James Neal has scored six goals in the past two games! How do you feel about that trade now, Calgary? Probably not great. Especially after Drew Doughty silences your crowd, you have to feel bad for the Flames’ week.
What about the Ducks? John Gibson, as expected, should be one of the favorites to claim the Vezina Trophy. Right, he is that good! Only three goals given up in the first three games. The Ducks are not as good as some , but the start of this season under the new head coach Dallas Eakins has been fabulous.
The Golden Knights trashed the Sharks to begin the season, however then their magic stopped for the first loss of the year versus Boston. Vegas is still the biggest favorite to win the Pacific Division this year.
Vancouver named its captain right before serving Jonathan Quick with eight goals at Rogers Arena on Wednesday. The magic of opening night and the naming of Bo Horvat as captain led to a big night for the Canucks, as well.
The Arizona Coyotes had a very sore start of the season. With Phil Kessel onboard, much more is expected than only one goal scored in two games. Expect the Yotes to pick it up sometime soon.
Circle Around the NHL
The Pittsburgh Penguins have everybody injured. They even had to play two defensemen on their fourth line! Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist, Nick Bjugstad: all of them are out with injuries. Besides, the Pens are 1-2-0 to open the campaign.
We have mentioned the Devils, with an unexpectedly horrendous start. The Rangers are firing on all cylinders with Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin. In terms of the top two draft choices from this June, there’s been no sight of Jack Hughes or Kappo Kakko so far. Kirby Dach from the Blackhawks is injured, while Bowen Byram from the Avalanche is not on the team, having been returned to the WHL, similarly to Alex Turcotte heading to the NCAA instead of joining the Kings yet.
The schedule is crazy! The Blackhawks will play their second game later today (versus San Jose), but that’s understandable because they played in Prague last week. But what about the Senators or the Wild playing just two games? And how could the Maple Leafs have played their fourth game on Monday? Perhaps, we should chill out; it’s only October!
Pacific Division Power Rankings
- Vegas Golden Knights
- Edmonton Oilers
- Calgary Flames
- Anaheim Ducks
- Arizona Coyotes
- Vancouver Canucks
- Los Angeles Kings
- San Jose Sharks
The Oilers will probably fall down the list at some point, but at least for now, they can rank high. The Flames still have one heck of a team. The Coyotes have loaded up, but will it be enough, especially without previous playoff experience? The Kings had to be picked above the Sharks. The Sharks look like a hot mess right now, let’s see if that Patrick Marleau reunion will spark them.