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Pacific Division Round Up: New year, new standings

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Vegas is back in first place, unfortunately.

Jan 4, 2020; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights players celebrate after Vegas Golden Knights center Chandler Stephenson (20) scored in overtime to give the Golden Knights a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues at T-Mobile Arena. Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

We took last week off wrapping up the games around the league because it was a short one. Finally, hockey is back in full force post-holiday season. Here’s how our rivals are doing as the first games of the new year come to a close.

Anaheim Ducks (17-20-5 )

The Anaheim Ducks returned from the break with an upset win over the Vegas Golden Knights. This is the only situation where I will celebrate a Ducks victory. They won 4-3 in regulation, too! They saw the Philadelphia Flyers next and fell short in overtime. The Flyers tied it up in the third period and won 2-1 in extra time. The Ducks and the Golden Knights met again, but this time Vegas had their revenge, beating the Ducks 5-2.

The Ducks and Arizona Coyotes met up later in the week. The Desert Dogs beat them 4-2. Finally, they faced off against the Nashville Predators. That game was tied 4-4 at the end of regulation thanks to two goals scored by Adam Henrique. It eventually went into a shootout where the Ducks came out on top.

The Ducks will play the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday at 7 p.m. PT.

Arizona Coyotes (24-16-4)

The Coyotes are currently second place in the Pacific. They returned from the break to a 4-1 defeat handed to them from the Vegas Golden Knights. The Desert Dogs followed that up with another loss, this time falling 4-2 to Joe Pavelski’s Dallas Stars. Pavs went goalless, if that makes you feel better. Do you know who didn’t go goalless? The Coyotes’ newest acquisition, Taylor Hall. He put his second goal with the squad into the net. They finally found their first victory on New Year’s Eve, beating the St. Louis Blues 3-1. We have to admit that after the playoffs last season, we love seeing the Blues lose.

The Coyotes finished off their week with a 4-2 victory over the Ducks. They then beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-2 on Sunday. Clayton Keller scored twice. Guess who scored for the Flyers? Our old friend Justin Braun, believe it or not.

During the game against the Flyers, goaltender Antti Raanta was injured and did not return to the game, seemingly with a lower-body injury. Raanta only played 20 games with the team last season due to injury. After he left the game, replacement Adin Hill allowed two goals. Their usual backup, Darcy Kuemper, is also sidelined with an injury. There have been no further updates on Raanta’s status.

The Coyotes will kick off a road trip against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday at 4 p.m. PT.

Calgary Flames (19-21-4)

The Calgary Flames are currently just above the Sharks in the division. They came back from the holiday break with a big 5-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Things went in the opposite direction during their next game where the Vancouver Canucks beat them 5-2. The Chicago Blackhawks also went on to beat them with five goals, that one ending 5-3. The Flames got themselves back into the win column with a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers. Finally, they finished their week off with a 5-4 shootout victory against the Minnesota Wild.

The Flames dealt Michael Frolik to the Buffalo Sabres for a fourth-round draft pick that originally belonged to the Sharks. Ah yes, another draft pick our favorite team does not have.

The Flames will face the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. PT.

Edmonton Oilers (22-17-5)

The Edmonton Oilers have slipped down in the division standings, now finding themselves in fourth place — a long fall from their first-place reign early in the season. The first game back for the Oilers ended in a 5-1 loss to the Calgary Flames. They got themselves together for the next one, though, beating the New York Rangers 7-5. James Neal had himself another hat trick. Good for him, I guess.

They went on to fall 3-2 in overtime to the Buffalo Sabres. They were up 2-1 until the third period when Buffalo tied it up. The Oilers finished their week off beating the Boston Bruins 4-1, thanks to Mike Smith making 35 saves against the Bs.

Oscar Klefbom was injured against the New York Rangers but returned the next game, so nothing crazy going on there. Josh Archibald returned to the lineup while Matt Benning faced a head injury. Benning may return during the team’s road trip, however.

The Oilers will play the Toronto Maple Leafs today at 4 p.m. PT.

Los Angeles Kings (17-22-4)

All is right as long as the Sharks remain ahead of the Kings in the division, right? The Kings returned from the break on December 27, but for some reason, I don’t remember that game. I guess it didn’t happen then! Anyway, back to their losses! They fell 3-2 to the Vancouver Canucks. They did get a 5-3 win over the Flyers. Jonathan Quick made 32 saves but did not save a shot made by Justin Braun. Yes, Justin Braun scored again, apparently. Finally, the Nashville Predators beat them 4-1. That’s much better.

Ilya Kovalchuk found a new home in the NHL. He signed with the Montreal Canadiens earlier this week. Alec Martinez returned to the Kings’ lineup after that scary injury he sustained against the Sharks in November where he had lacerations to his radial artery and nerves. He hit the ice again against Nashville. Dustin Brown missed several games after being hospitalized with pneumonia. He has yet to return to the lineup.

The Kings will see the Columbus Blue Jackets today at 7:30 p.m. PT.

Vancouver Canucks (23-15-4)

The Vancouver Canucks are in third place in the Pacific Division after winning every game they’ve played since the break. It started with that 3-2 victory over the Kings and continued with a 5-2 victory over the Flames, 7-5 win against the Blackhawks and wrapped up with a 2-1 defeat over the Rangers. Jacob Markstrom helped keep his team in the game against the Rangers by making 36 saves. The Canucks have now won seven straight games!

The Canucks will look to extend their streak against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday at 4 p.m. PT.

Vegas Golden Knights (24-15-6)

Unfortunately, the Vegas Golden Knights are back in first place. They returned from the holiday break only to lose 4-3 to the Anaheim Ducks. They returned with a vengeance, though, beating the Coyotes 4-1. Mark Stone had a pair of goals in that game. They had their revenge against the Ducks, however, beating them 5-2 later in the week. Jonathan Marchessault scored two goals while Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves. They went on to beat the Flyers 5-4 (no Braun goal this time) and the St. Louis Blues 5-4 in overtime.

Jonathan Marchessault didn’t play against the Flyers or Blues after suffering a lower-body injury. He’s currently day-to-day.

Vegas will face the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday at 7 p.m. PT.