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Pacific Division Round-Up: California takes over the ‘yoffs

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Our number one and number two rivals clinch playoff spots.

Apr 2, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) checks Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Bourque (57) into the boards in the second period during an NHL hockey game at Staples Center. The Kings defeated the Avalanche Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

California teams have taken over the remaining Pacific playoff spots for the fifth time in the last eight seasons. On Wednesday, both the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks clinched playoff berths. The ‘yoffs this year will certainly be a good time with these strong rivalries in tow. Some of our other Pacific Division counterparts weren’t so lucky when it comes to closing out the regular season.

Anaheim Ducks (42-25-15)

Anaheim was one of the lucky teams, although their struggles with injuries this season has been far from lucky. They managed to clinch a playoff spot on Wednesday night with a 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. They went on a three-game win streak, beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 and the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 inovertime before winning against Minnesota.

Although Anaheim is playoff bound, the number of injuries this team has sustained over the season can be tough to overcome. Currently, they are without a few key players. Defensemen Cam Fowler will be out to to six weeks with a shoulder injury. Fowler has netted eight goals and had 24 assists on the season, and he leads the team in ice time. He will certainly be missed moving into the postseason. Goaltender John Gibson also suffered an injury this week against Colorado. It seems like Gibson is day-to-day, but an extended absence could be trouble for the Ducks.

The Ducks take on the Dallas Stars on Friday at 7:00 PT.

Arizona Coyotes (29-40-11)

It’s a little too late, but the Coyotes had a very successful week! After falling 4-2 to the Los Angeles Kings, they turned their luck around. They beat the St. Louis Blues 6-0, with several pieces of their offense lending a hand. Goaltender Antti Raanta made 34 saves against the strong St. Louis offense.

They continued to stay hot, beating division rivals the Calgary Flames 4-1. Raanta had another impressive game, making 42 saves on 43 shots. Defensemen Jakob Chychrun will miss the rest of the season with an undisclosed lower-body injury. The Coyotes season may be over, but ending on a strong note is certainly a good way to go out. Well, aside from the injuries the team has faced.

The Coyotes will take on division rivals the Vancouver Canucks one last time tonight at 7:00 PT.

Calgary Flames (36-34-10)

Another Pacific team whose season is over is the Calgary Flames. There was really no chance for the Western Canadian team to catch up to the three California teams for a playoff position. They had a seven-game losing streak, falling short to the Los Angeles Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets.

They regained some momentum after beating the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Saturday. They struggled again on Tuesday, losing 4-1 to the last place Arizona Coyotes. It’s been a difficult season for Calgary, and I’m sure they’re ready for a fresh start next season.

The Flames will try to prove themselves in Winnipeg tonight against the Jets at 5:00 PT.

Edmonton Oilers (34-40-6)

Oh Edmonton, none of us would have predicted this is where you stood at the end of the season. I thought for sure I’d be telling you all about Stanley Cup contending Edmonton Oilers, but something went south for them this season. They’re not ending it on a high note, either. The Oilers have lost their last four games.

After falling hard to the Columbus Blue Jackets and Vancouver Canucks last week, they faced off against the Calgary Flames. They lost that one 3-2. Their fourth loss came Monday when they were shut out by the Minnesota Wild.

The Edmonton Oilers will look to end their losing streak against the Vegas Golden Knights tonight at 6:00 PT.

Los Angeles Kings (44-28-8)

Well, guys, they did it. The Los Angeles Kings are back in the playoffs after missing them last season. Although they lost in overtime to freeway rivals the Anaheim Ducks, they came back to beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 on Monday. On Wednesday night, they clinched a playoff spot.

The Kings are also struggling with injuries going into the playoffs. Derek Forbort sustained a lower-body injury early in the first period against the Colorado Avalanche, apparently leaving the game on crutches. It is unknown how long he will be absent. The Kings will also be without defensemen Jake Muzzin, who suffered an upper-body injury against the Calgary Flames. He is the Kings second-top scorer among defensemen, with a career-high 42 points. His absence will certainly be felt, especially if the Kings face off against Vegas round one.

The Kings host the Minnesota Wild tonight at 7:30 PT.

Vancouver Canucks (30-40-10)

The Canucks managed to go on a four-game winning streak at the end of the season. They successfully beat the hot Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4 in overtime on Saturday. They then held off the Vegas Golden Knights to a shootout, but they fell short 5-4.

Vancouver legends Daniel and Henrik Sedin announced their retirement at the end of the season this week. The pair played in Vancouver for 17 seasons. They’ll face off at home for the final time against the Arizona Coyotes tonight at 7:00 PT. Break out the tissues, this one will be emotional.

Vegas Golden Knights (51-22-7)

What an incredible season this team has had. Who would have thought the new kids on the block would be sitting pretty in first place of the Pacific Division, comfortably going into their first Stanley Cup Playoffs?

They had yet another good week. They beat the St. Louis Blues 4-3 in overtime on Friday. I won’t make you relive the pain of their 3-2 victory over the Sharks on Saturday. Then Vancouver managed to hold them to a shootout, but they came out victorious. Do you guys think they have what it takes to go far in the playoffs, or is this where their luck will come to an end?

Vegas takes on the Edmonton Oilers tonight at 6:00 PT.

Well guys, I’ve had a blast keeping you updated with the Pacific Division over the season. This is the last one for 2017-18, but we’ll be back at ya next week with some fun playoff coverage!