Pacific Division Roundup: Running out of money in Vegas casino?

The Los Angeles Kings got a taste of the bottom-standings battles this week. They received an A in both of those outings. First, they beat the Minnesota Wild, and then, they conquered the Detroit Red Wings.

Last week in our Pacific Division Roundup, we looked at a team worse than the Kings. It was the Red Wings. This time around, Detroit has one point more than the Kings. However, at the moment, the Devils are serving as the worst team in the NHL, right behind LA.

The main focus of this roundup will be on casinos in Vegas. They are running out of cash. To be sure, you can still make a fortune playing in Las Vegas, but not so much when you visit T-Mobile Arena. The Golden Knights are bleeding worse than they would have thought.

The team, which started the season determinedly beating the Sharks in back-to-back fashion, is now out of the playoff picture. The Kings face the Golden Knights in a Saturday matinee at Staples Center. If the Kings beat them, they will be only four points away from them with one game in hand. For the team atop of the Power Rankings and projections at the beginning of the season, that’s dangerous proximity to the rock-bottom of the NHL.

The Golden Knights started the season with a 6-3 record. However, injuries and inconsistant goaltending has victimized them lately. In their tenth contest of the campaign, Vegas turned to play Oscar Dansk in goal in Philadelphia. To sum it up, he was awful in his first start, as the Flyers, then struggling, won 6-2. The pucks were entering the net way too easily as opposed to the Knights’ standards. In their last 11 games, the Golden Knights have gathered only three victories. In this time span, they blew three different two-goal leads to lose games, while also blowing four different third-period leads.

It’s not like Vegas is completely off the charts, of course. It just appears that right now, they lack the confidence to close out the games. Lacking confidence results in offensive issues, as well. The Golden Knights sit on an overall -2 goal differential. There are 17 teams in the NHL with a positive goal differential. We will see how that matter unfolds when the Golden Knights show up to the Staples Center on Saturday.

Once the prominent starters, the Anaheim Ducks lost five games in a row, while once the horrific starters, the San Jose Sharks, won five consecutive tilts. All of that could be seen on Thursday at Honda Center between those two. Don’t look now, but the Sharks are on the rise, as they sit on 19 points and ride a five-game winning streak.

The divisional lead still belongs to the Edmonton Oilers, who are inconsistently consistent enough to lead the Pacific Division with a four-point advantage over the second-placed Coyotes with 24 points. The League’s lead in points goes to non-other than Leon Draisaitl with 41 points and Connor McDavid with 37 points. Unreal numbers.

Circle Around the NHL

After a miserable, woeful, pitiful start to the season, the Dallas Stars clawed all the way back to a playoff position. From a 1-7-1 record, the Stars have reached the sky with a 9-2-0 record in their past 11 games. Only the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins have better defense than the Stars, as Dallas has conceded just 48 goals, which puts them in a tie with the Boston Bruins. They have given up 21 goals less than the Kings. On the other hand, Los Angeles has just one less goal scored than the Stars.

Losing five of their last six decisions, the Nashville Predators dropped out of a playoff spot. And there might be worse news on the horizon for the Preds. We have seen the drama surrounding Roberto Luongo’s retirement with three years left on his contract still. The Canucks were heavily victimized by that move, having to assume a $3.03 million cap hit per campaign for the next three seasons as the recapture penalty. That’s not ideal for a player who already hasn’t been on your team for years before his retirement.

But what happens if Shea Weber decides to hang them up? The Athletic looked at that as they came up with a rather intriguing number. If Weber chose to retire in 2025, right before the final year of his current deal, the Preds would be assessed a recapture penalty of $24.5 million for the 2025-26 season. Yikes! I can imagine the whole front office in Nashville would want to resign following a hypothetical Weber retirement to avoid being involved in that.

Pacific Division Power Rankings

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

There are quite a lot of moves in this week’s Pacific Division Power Rankings. The Oilers lead the division, and they seem steady. They are the only team, alongside the Coyotes, to avoid the seemingly long losing stretches. I would still hold my hopes high on the Flames and Vegas, but as of now, these teams have a lot to work on. The Sharks are slowly climbing. There might be a sense that they are getting there. Who knows, maybe next week, the Ducks will claim the Kings’ spot!