This is a weekly feature in which I’ll look at the performances and narratives of the teams in the Pacific Division.
It took them nearly a month, but the Arizona Coyotes are in the win column. They’ve got a ways to go before they can catch the logjam of teams in the middle of the standings, but the Oilers might be getting a little nervous with the Coyotes hot on their tails.
Crazy play from Christian Folin, who fakes the dump-in and then scores from center ice pic.twitter.com/bqMsSA58kS— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) November 5, 2017
1st: Los Angeles Kings
10-2-2 (22 points) / +17 goal differential / 50.6 CF% (14th) / 102.3 PDO (9th)
The Kings still look like the team to beat in the Pacific Division. Even after a mediocre 1-1-1 week, they’re still at the top of the standings, four points above the surprising Golden Knights and six points clear of the San Jose Sharks who are the next actual threat to their top seed. Jonathan Quick has continued to play ridiculously well and certainly won’t post a .939 save percentage all season, but this is the best we’ve seen from L.A. since they won in 2014. Even with Jeff Carter on the injured reserve, they’re getting scoring from a lot of sources, including Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar, which is important.
2nd: Vegas Golden Knights
9-4-0 (18 points) / +10 goal differential / 47.3 CF% (26th) / 102.4 (7th)
Eventually the Las Vegas PDO bubble is going to pop. It’s going to happen. They’re riding high on momentum during the first month of the season, but as we’ve seen so many times before, this kind of thing doesn’t keep up. The Golden Knights have had a hell of a time with injuries as of late, as third-string goalie Oscar Dansk joined Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcom Subban on the injured reserve, forcing Vegas to roll with Max Lagace, their fourth-string goalie. Lagace managed to pick up his first NHL win in a win over the Senators, but the Knights dropped three games in a row last week before that with him in net. Subban and Fleury should be back soon, but still, Vegas will continue to trend downward.
3rd: San Jose Sharks
8-5-0 (16 points) / +6 goal differential / 52.9 CF% (5th) / 98/1 PDO (25th)
After a shaky start to the season, the San Jose Sharks have figured themselves out. Last week, they won all three games they played, including Patrick Marleau’s emotional return to San Jose, and are currently on a four-game winning streak that’s rocketed them up the standings. Oddly enough, they’re still 25th in goals for and have been finding success through rock solid defence. The Sharks have only allowed 30 goals against this season, which is the fewest of any team in the league.
4th: Vancouver Canucks
7-4-2 (16 points) / +4 goal differential / 50.9 CF% (12th) / 102.5 PDO (6th)
Perhaps even as shocking as as the Golden Knights has been the early success of the Vancouver Canucks, who sit 7-4-2 a month into the season. Before the season, Can Vancouver be worse than Vegas? was a common point of conversation, but the Canucks have played well thus far. Not only is their record good, they also have pretty solid underlying numbers which makes their high percentages a little more believable. Last week, they went 1-1-1, ending a four-game winning streak, but they held some strong offences is Pittsburgh, New Jersey, and Dallas to two goals each.
You’ve got to be kidding, Mike Smith. pic.twitter.com/tkoRTrcPce— NHL (@NHL) November 6, 2017
5th: Calgary Flames
8-6-0 (16 points) / -3 goal differential / 51.7 CF% (9th) / 100.8 PDO (14th)
The Flames only played two games last week, but they won both of them, edging out the Penguins in overtime and the Devils in a shootout. The team isn’t scoring at the rate you’d expect them to, but one consistent positive has been the play of goaltender Mike Smith. Everyone was critical of the team for acquiring the 35-year-old to be the solution in net, but the veteran backstop has been excellent thus far in Calgary.
6th: Anaheim Ducks
6-6-2 (14 points) / -3 goal differential / 47.4 CF% (25th) / 100.4 PDO (17th)
The fact the Anaheim Ducks are 6-6-2 through one month of play is impressive considering the injures they’ve had. Ryan Getzlaf, Sami Vatanen, and Hampus Lindholm each missed the first few weeks of action, and Ryan Kesler won’t be back until Christmas. At the forefront of those injuries, though, is Patrick Eaves, who’s hockey career has been placed on hold after being diagnosed with a rare disease known as Guillain-Barre syndrome, in which the body’s immune system begins to attack the nervous system There’s no timetable for his return currently, but he’s on the road to recovery. The Ducks were winless in three games, but the long-term health of Eaves is certainly at the front of everyone’s mind.
7th: Edmonton Oilers
4-8-1 (9 points) / -13 goal differential / 55.8 CF% (2nd) / 97.7 PDO (27th)
The Oilers’ start to the season has been nothing short of a disaster. Through one month, the team is 4-8-1, and while their underlying numbers suggest things are bound to turn around, the team looks like a shell of what we saw last season. They had a commanding 6-3 win over Taylor Hall and their weirdly good Devils, but then got pounded by the Red Wings 4-0. Overall, they went 1-2 on the week and haven’t looked good in back-to-back games all season.
COYOTES WIN!!!! pic.twitter.com/iUhoN86Jqp— ABC15 Sports (@abc15sports) October 31, 2017
8th: Arizona Coyotes
2-12-1 (5 points) / -23 goal differential / 47.8 CF% (23rd) / 97.3 PDO (28th)
By their standards, the Coyotes had a huge week. They went 2-2, winning their first game of the season in overtime against the Flyers and then won another game later in the week, taking down the Hurricanes in the shootout. After losing 11 games in a row to start the season, two wins in one week is almost worthy of a banner raising in Glendale.