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Pacific Division Weekly: The red hot Flames

With 82 points, Calgary sits pretty at the top of the table.

Mar 16, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) scores a goal against the New Jersey Devils during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Listen, Sharks fans. I know that all that is on your mind right now is that wonderful Tomas Hertl contract extension. I’m right there with you, I swear. However, there’s a lot going on in the division that we should talk about. Like how the Calgary Flames are sitting pretty at the top of the standings as they quietly approach the trade deadline.

Anaheim Ducks (27-26-11)

Remember when the Ducks were doing well? Gone are those days, Our orange enemies have fallen down in the standings and would need to leap-frog five teams to secure a Wild Card spot. This week certainly didn’t help — they didn’t win a single game. The New Jersey Devils beat them 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday, the New York Islanders lowered them into the ground with a 4-3 defeat the next night and then the road trip wrapped up with a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers.

Back home at the Pond(a Center), Joe Thornton’s Florida Panthers handed them a tidy 3-0 shutout loss.

So the fire sale has begun in Anaheim, as the team shipped off Josh Manson, Nicolas Deslauriers, Hampus Lindholm and Kodie Curran to make room for their young super stars, along with the acquired prospects and picks.

Calgary Flames (37-16-8)

The Flames continue to hold on to their top-three status this week. It started with a 3-0 shutout victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, closing out a four-game homestand. Blake Coleman, Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli found the back of the net to bring their team the win.

However, the roles were switched when they went on the road the next night against the Colorado Avalanche and were shutout 3-0. They got their groove back come Wednesday, when they beat the New Jersey Devils 6-3. It was such a team effort that even Milan Lucic got on the board that night. The Buffalo Sabres came to town next, and Calgary still got the point in a tight 1-0 overtime loss.

The Flames aren’t going to fix what isn’t broken, making an addition of forward Calle Jarnkrok in exchange for a hefty load of draft picks for the Seattle Kraken: a 2022 second-round selection (FLA), a 2023 third-round selection and a 2024 seventh-round selection.

Edmonton Oilers (35-23-4)

Edmonton started this week off on a better foot than the last one. The Oilers haven’t been playing their best hockey since the All-Star break, but things started to turn around with four consecutive victories this week. First came a 4-1 home victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The next was in the form of a 7-5 win over the Red Wings. Evander Kane scored twice while Connor McDavid, Kailer Yamamoto, Warren Foegele, Zach Hyman and Devin Shore each found the back of the net once. Next came the Sabres, who were held to just one goal in the 6-1 final. Closing out a five-game homestand, McDavid had a three-point game in a 6-3 win over the Devils.

Injuries have kept the Oilers’ line-up in flux, but goaltending is the real game-breaker in Edmonton. Something to watch as Monday approaches.

Los Angeles Kings (34-22-8)

Let’s take a moment to recall that sweet, sweet 5-0 victory the Sharks pulled out against the Kings for a second. Let’s really soak that one in. OK, now on to the rest of the week.

Sadly, the Kings beat Joe Thornton and the Panthers 3-2 in a shootout on Sunday, spoiling everyone’s favorite Eastern Conference team from having a perfect run through California. However, they did fall 3-0 in their next match against the Avalanche, so that made up for it. Then, the Sharks had another chance to beat the Kings, and end their season series with a perfect sweep. Wish we could say that happened, instead of the 3-0 shutout.

The team took a quick trip to Nevada next, where the Vegas Golden Knights reminded the Kings that they are a roster thoroughly plagued by injuries, handing the team a 5-1 loss.

Despite hanging on by a thread in the postseason race, the Kings seem to be happy with the performance of their call-up players, and will likely look to add reinforcements to get the team through this recovery period.

Seattle Kraken (18-38-6)

The struggling Seattle Kraken only played two games this week, but they did win the first one. The 4-3 shootout victory over the Montreal Canadiens saw goals from Ryan Donato, Jared McCann and Yanni Gourde in regulation. Philipp Grubauer made 30 saves to help his team win the match.

They weren’t as lucky against the visiting Lightning on Wednesday, falling 4-1 with the lone goal coming from Gourde’s stick.

Performing as one would expect of an expansion team — especially one with such terrible and unpredictable luck in net as Seattle has had — the Kraken are looking toward their future in the team’s first trade deadline, aiming to hoard draft picks in exchange for players who made the move to Seattle just last summer.

Vancouver Canucks (30-25-7)

The Canucks have had a week of ups and downs, whilst the team is on a seven-game homestand against primarily Eastern Conference teams. It kicked off with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals on Friday. It got worse from there as they fell 2-1 to the Lightning on Sunday. The only Canucks goal was scored by J.T. Miller.

Things looked up for the team when they beat the Devils 6-3 on Tuesday. Pacific teams love beating the Devils by scoring six goals this week. Bo Horvat netted a pair of goals while Tanner Pearson, Nils Hoglander, Brad Hunt and Juho Lammikko also found the net. They saw the Red Wings on Thursday, losing 1-0, the only goal scored midway through the second period by Pius Suter.

Though the Canucks are perhaps truly “one good run” from playoffs, that run feels quite unlikely, and it seems as though the team is acknowledging that, with several players’ names bouncing around in trade rumors. They’re not committing to buying or selling just yet, with two games before Monday’s deadline.

Vegas Golden Knights (34-26-4)

How would you feel if I told you Vegas lost most of their games this week by, like, a lot of goals? It started with a 5-2 loss at the hands of Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. Next, they lost 6-4 to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. But wait! There’s more! They finished off the road trip by falling 7-3 to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. Everything was great and we loved it.

Unfortunately, home ice seemed to be the fix, as the team put up two consecutive five-goal performances, beating the Panthers (boo!) 5-3 on Thursday and the Kings 5-1 on Saturday.

They’re another team that can’t catch a break from injuries this year and the bad news keeps coming: Jack Eichel (upper-body injury) was a game-time decision against the Kings. He did play, but it’s something to keep an eye on, especially with the injuries stacking up. The biggest question ahead of the trade deadline will be how they address injuries in net, something that could make or break their playoff run.