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Pacific Division Round Up: Vegas slides into first place

An expansion team is in first place in the division while Connor McDavid isn’t even in a playoff spot...What is happening?

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Another week of the 2017 NHL season has come to a close and boy, was it a good one. The NHL turned 100, and an expansion team landed in first place. If you would have told me the Vegas Golden Knights would be first place and the Edmonton Connor McDavid’s weren’t even in a playoff position come the holiday break, I would have laughed in your face. Alas, here we are.

Anaheim Ducks (14-13-8)

This Ducks team is still a bit beat up. They started off their six-game road trip strong with a 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues, but have struggled to maintain a lead since. After being up 2-0 over the Washington Capitals going into the third period, they again blew the lead and ended up losing 3-2 in overtime.

Things did not improve when Adam Henrique made his return to New Jersey. The Ducks fell to the New Jersey Devils 5-3. At the halfway mark of the season, Anaheim took on the New York Rangers and lost 4-1. The Ducks managed to put 40 shots on net while pitted against the powerhouse that is Henrik Lundqvist. This Ducks team is struggling, and it’s hard to watch — even if we do hate them.

The Ducks look to put an end to their losing streak tonight at 4:00 PST against the New York Islanders.

Arizona Coyotes (7-24-5)

Transitioning from Anaheim to Arizona is fitting because no one knows a struggle this season like the Coyotes do. In the midst of a seven-game losing streak, things are not looking great for the Desert Dogs. They fell 4-1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and 3-2 to the Florida Panthers after having a 2-0 lead. They assigned top prospect Dylan Strome to the Tucson Roadrunners. Picked third overall in 2015, Strome isn’t delivering the way the Coyotes expected and have sent him down to "evolve his game."

After rumors of moving to a new building, or moving out of Arizona all together, it has been decided this week that the Arizona Coyotes will play at least one more season at Gila River Arena.

Arizona will be desperate for a win against the Washington Capitals tomorrow at 6:00 PST.

Calgary Flames (18-14-3)

Calgary managed to pull off a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday. Jaromir Jagr did not play, still recovering from a lower-body injury despite playing in back to back games last weekend. Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic left the game on Wednesday joining Jagr with a lower-body injury of his own. Earlier in the week they were shut out by the Nashville Predators and netted six goals to beat the Vancouver Canucks.

Calgary will match up against the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow at 6:00 PST.

Edmonton Oilers (15-17-2)

After falling 4-0 to the Nashville Predators, the Oilers seemed to get their groove back with a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild and a 5-3 victory over the Sharks which still stings for me days afterward. The return of Cam Talbot has definitely been a boost to this Edmonton team. Leading up to the holiday break, they placed Australian forward Nathan Walker on waivers roughly a month after claiming him, only to have him reclaimed by his old Washington Capitals team.

After splitting up their first line, the Oilers seem to be improving. Let’s see if they can keep it going tonight against the St. Louis Blues at 6:00 PST.

Los Angeles Kings (21-10-4)

Few things make me happier than the Kings on a three-game losing streak. The Kings fell short to the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, and New York Islanders. The bad news is that they pulled out a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday, where Tyler Toffoli netted his 100th career goal. We can only hope this isn’t a sign they’re heating back up. Oh, and they were kicked out of first place by an expansion team this week.

The Kings take on the Colorado Avalanche tonight at 7:30 PST.

Vancouver Canucks (15-16-4)

The Canucks are struggling defensively. After a surprisingly good start to their season, injuries and holes in their lineup have caused them to hit a rough patch. After blocking a shot against the Calgary Flames, Brock Boeser crawled off the ice but somehow managed to avoid a fracture. Boeser has netted 17 goals this season for the Canucks, so it was a relief when he was on the ice against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. They fell 7-5 against Montreal but put up a fight. Especially considering top liners Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi are both on the IR long term.

The Canucks will take on our Sharks tonight at 7:30 PST.

Vegas Golden Knights (22-9-2)

The Vegas Golden Knights are in first place of the Pacific division. An expansion the first place. How did they get to first place you ask? A buzzer-beating goal to win 4-3 over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Earlier this week they also busted out a 2-1 win over the reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, and a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers. Having goaltender Marc-André Fleury back between the pipes has certainly been helpful, especially against his former club. The Vegas Golden Knights are legit. Everyone who doubted them (myself included) are definitely biting their tongue now. It will be interesting to see if they can stay hot come playoffs.

Vegas takes on the Washington Capitals on Saturday at 5:00 PST.