Pacific Division Round Up: Farewell, regular season

Hello, playoffs.

It feels like just yesterday that hockey was back in action after a long summer. Now, the regular season has come to a close. The teams we’ve grown so used to seeing in the first few rounds, the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, have long been eliminated. Just the Calgary Flames and Vegas Golden Knights have survived to face the playoffs. We’ll be seeing a lot of the Vegas Golden Knights in the next two weeks.

Here’s how they (and the rest of our foes) wrapped up their season:

Anaheim Ducks (35-37-10)

The team that started off the season in first place have now narrowly avoided finishing in the bottom two. Two big wins this week gave them the slight advantage over the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings. First, the Calgary Flames fell short against the Ducks. The 3-1 victory saw goals from Ryan Getzlaf, Max Jones and Sam Steel. They then took down the worst in the West, 5-2. Jakob Silfverberg, Korbinian Holzer, Carter Rowney, Daniel Sprong and Sam Steel all scored for the Ducks to dismantle the Kings.

This season was a tough one for the Ducks. They lost Ryan Kesler to injury, potentially ending his career, and fired their head coach. Ryan Getzlaf lead the team in points, while John Gibson made his mark in net with a .917 save percentage. Next season will be an interesting one for this club.

Arizona Coyotes (39-35-8)

The Arizona Coyotes almost made their way into a playoff spot this year, just getting beat out of a wild card spot. They had an off week, losing first to the Kings, 3-1. The lone Coyotes goal came from Brad Richardson. The Coyotes bounced back and defeated the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-1. Derek Stepan scored twice, while Conor Garland and Richard Panik found the net as well. Their season ended on a low, losing 4-2 to the Winnipeg Jets, with goals from Richardson and Alexander Galchenyuk.

This season was full of highs and lows for the Desert Dogs, who narrowly missed making playoffs. Clayton Keller came out on top as point leader with a total of 47. They lost their starting goaltender to injury, but found consistency in Darcy Kuemper who ends his season with a .925 save percentage. This was a season I don’t think anyone expected them to have and to be honest, I’m hoping they only go up from here. Unless they’re playing the Sharks, of course.

Calgary Flames (50-25-7)

The Calgary Flames took first in the division this season. It was a tight race between the Sharks and the Flames, but ultimately Calgary took it when the Sharks burned out in their final stretch of the season. They had a rough final week, but started it off on a high note with a 7-2 victory over the Kings. Derek Ryan found the net twice. The other goals were scored by Mark Jankowski, James Neal, Sam Bennett, Johnny Gaudreau and Andrew Mangipane. They then lost 3-1 to the Ducks. Ryan had the only goal. They dropped another 3-1 game to the Edmonton Oilers. Jankowski scored the only Flames goal.

It’s no surprise that Johnny Gaudreau lead the Flames in points this year. He had 36 goals and 63 assists for a total of 99 points. The Flames face the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the playoffs, starting in Calgary on Thursday at 7 p.m. PT.

Edmonton Oilers (35-38-9)

The Edmonton Oilers had a long final week. They lost three of the four games they played, falling to the Vegas Golden Knights (3-1), Colorado Avalanche (6-2) and San Jose Sharks (3-2). They came out on top against the first place Flames with goals from Alex Chiasson, Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse, while only allowing one goal. It came with a cost, though. Connor McDavid was injured, which at first glance looked really bad. Turns out he didn’t break anything and an MRI will be done to find a further diagnosis.

The second worst record in the West goes to Edmonton this year. The organization pretty much imploded this season, leading to a change in general manager and head coach. The team will hope to rebuild in the off-season. For a team that struggled so hard, they had a point-producing super duo in Connor McDavid (116 points) and Leon Draisaitl (105 points). In third place was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with 69 points, to put into perspective.

Los Angeles Kings (31-42-9)

The Los Angeles Kings started their week out with a 7-2 loss to the Calgary Flames. Things got better after a 3-1 victory over the Coyotes. Kyle Clifford, Drew Doughty and Trevor Lewis found the net. They then lost 5-2 to the Ducks, but came out on top 5-2 against the Vegas Golden Knights. Ilya Kovalchuk netted two goals after protesting his lack of ice time. The other goals were scored by Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter and Matt Roy.

The Kings will certainly be reevaluating their roster and staff this off-season, with the rumor that former Sharks and Oilers head coach Todd McClellan is in the running to lead the team next season. Jonathan Quick struggled this season and was almost traded before this season even started. With his .888 save percentage, things don’t look so great for his future with the Kings. Anze Kopitar led the team in points with 66, tied for most goals scored with Dustin Brown. Who knows what the future of this team will look like.

Vancouver Canucks (35-36-11)

The Vancouver Canucks looked like they were going to end their season on a high point, but crumbled in the final two games, which very much symbolized their season. They started their week off beating the Sharks 4-2, but we’ll ignore that. The Nashville Predators then took them down in a tight 3-2 loss, with goals from Tanner Pearson and Markus Granlund. They fell again in a 3-2 shootout against the red hot St. Louis Blues in their final game. Pearson and Elias Pettersson got Vancouver on the board, but failed to secure the extra pointless point.

The Vancouver Canucks went through several highs and lows this season, the highest point being Elias Pettersson who came out on top in points, netting 28 goals and 38 assists. The Canucks have a busy summer ahead where they may attempt to reunite the Hughes brothers at the NHL Draft. I’m interested to see how next season works out for them.

Vegas Golden Knights (43-32-7)

The Sharks will see a lot of the Vegas Golden Knights, but hopefully not that much of them. The Golden Knights broke their losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers, with goals scored by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Cody Eakin and Jonathan Marchessault. They went on to lose their final two games of the season, falling 4-1 to the Arizona Coyotes. Mark Stone had the only Vegas goal. They then lost 5-2 to the last place Kings. The goals were scored by Brandon Pirri and Valentin Zykov.

Let’s hope Vegas keeps this up going into the playoffs. Jonathan Marchessault lead the team in points this year with 59. Marc-Andre Fleury is, of course, the most important person to watch as they head into the ‘yoffs. He finished the season with a .913 save percentage, but much like the Sharks’ own Martin Jones, is known for being a playoff performer. The Sharks see the Golden Knights for Game 1 on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. PT.