The Edmonton Oilers are all but officially cooked, dinner theatre has taken hold at Calgary Flames practices, and as much as it pains me to say this, I think the Vegas Golden Knights are for real, friendos.
Here we go!
Anaheim Ducks (19-15-9)
With 43 games played, the Ducks now sit one point back of a playoff spot in the Pacific division. Getting one point out of two division rival games on the road this week didn’t help much, but the Ducks are in the middle of their bye week, so maybe they have some time to get healthy for the first time this season.
If Anaheim can pull this off, they could be a scary match up come post-season. At this point, the Ducks have played 43 games, but Hampus Lindholm has only played 30, Ryan Getzlaf 19, and Ryan Kesler has played six. Remember how much damage Logan Couture did in the 2016 playoffs after missing 46 regular season games? Fresh legs on Getzlaf and Kesler could be a real difference maker through the Spring on a team not known for their foot speed.
The Ducks’ bye week ends Saturday with another intra-division match up against the Kings in LA.
Arizona Coyotes (10-27-6)
The Coyotes dragged three out of four points out of this week! The long night is over! Plan the parade!
Seriously, though, it’s probably better for these guys to go into their bye week with a little positivity, since the Coyotes’ season ended in October. Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s inclusion into the All-Star Game should be a symptom of how disappointing this campaign has been. His 0.44 points per game is the second lowest mark he’s posted in a full season in his NHL career.
Clayton Keller leads the team in points with 32, there’s no way to get him into that line up? In 3-on-3? With Johnny Gaudreau and Connor McDavid? Come on, boys!
The ‘Yotes wrapped the week up with a sell low on Anthony Duclair, sending him to the Chicago Blackhawks for Richard Panik. There was also an Adam Clendening - Laurent Dauphin no-take-backsies thing in there, but this whole Duclair drama is a missed opportunity on top of a failed experiment for general manager John Chayka.
Arizona ends their week off on Friday with a visit from the similarly doomed Edmonton Oilers. Then they visit balmy San Jose on Saturday evening to take on the newly rested Sharks.
Calgary Flames (22-16-4)
Head coach Glen Gulutzan’s histrionics aside, the Flames are turning it around. They’re winners of three in a row, tied with the Sharks for the third and in all likelihood last playoff spot in the Pacific, and trending upward. Maybe they were having a particularly lackluster practice, maybe the effort wasn’t enough in their win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, heck, maybe Glen’s coffee had grounds in it, but this kind of tirade either works or it super doesn’t, and it seems like a strange card to play at this particular moment.
The Flames visit the unreasonably dominant Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday with a chance to pass the Sharks in the standings. Sure, the Sharks have games in hand, but those only matter if they win them.
Edmonton Oilers (18-23-3)
What a mess. Where do we even start with this... this... team? General manager Peter Chiarelli insisted in a press conference on Monday that he wasn’t currently considering firing head coach Todd McLellan. This has a bit of a thou-dost-protesteth-too-much vibe to it, since no one was really talking about McLellan being in danger until he brought it up.
This is like your room mate spilling beer on your bed at a party, and then stopping you before you go into the room to see the mess and telling you that your dog definitely did not just spill beer onto your bed. Nobody asked if the dog spilled the beer, Derek, and dogs don’t even drink beer, and what beer?
Edmonton’s season is over. Their scoring is absent, their power play is historically ineffective despite boasting the at worst second-best player in the galaxy, they’ve lost seven out of their last eight games, tallying three points and getting outscored 30-11 in that span, and their golden boy gets to spend a week skating around with Johnny Gaudreau and seeing how green grass can really be.
At least Connor McDavid still has some clout in the league office, and if his complaint about the offside call on Jujhar Khaira wiping out the game tying goal in Nashville Tuesday night gets Colin Campbell’s attention enough to change that barmy thing, maybe it will have all been worth it.
We’ll see if they can still steal candy from babies on Friday in Arizona.
Los Angeles Kings (24-13-5)
The Kings are wrapping up their bye week sitting pretty atop the division. Well, almost. At this point, the seven point gap between them and the Knights is pretty insurmountable, and the same likely goes for the five point gap separating them from the third place Sharks and Flames.
They’ve struggled lately, dropping two regulation games against Calgary and Nashville last week, but this team is good again, and when they eventually get Jeff Carter back they’ll be set to take this to the next level.
They’re ending their vacation back home against the Ducks on Saturday.
Vancouver Canucks (16-21-6)
After a hot start, the Canucks are back where they belong: leaving points on tables all over the NHL and dosing on Brock Boeser and Rasmus Dahlin highlights. Losers of five in a row and nine of their last ten, the other shoe seems to have finally dropped.
All in for Dahlin at this point, but knowing our luck, he’ll probably go to Edmonton anyway.
The hit parade continues, as the Canucks visit the playoff bound Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.
Vegas Golden Knights (29-10-2)
Okay, fine, I am willing to admit that there is a possibility that maybe, just maybe, this team is for real. The Knights have a seven point lead on the Kings for first in the Pacific Division, and it’s probably past time to stop waiting for the wheels to fall off. Winners of 14 of their last 16 (!) games, the Knights are playing well and getting lucky.
In case you were worried I wouldn’t find another way to salt the wounds of Oilers fans, the Knights’ next up is at home against Edmonton on Saturday.
And I’ll say this here: how is Jonathan Marchessault not an All-Star selection for this team? Marc-Andre Fleury is a good goaltender and by all accounts a very nice man, but he’s played 12 games this year. Marchessault leads the team with 40 points in 38 games, he’s a friggin’ phenomenon down there. Get William Karlsson in there too instead of Rickard Rakell, John Gibson in for Fleury, Keller in for Ekman-Larsson, add Jake Muzzin to round out the positions and tell James Neal to kick rocks.
That’s too many players, but that Atlantic team is a buzz saw and we’ll need all the help we can get.