Pacific Division Weekly: Flames switch it up

Albertan teams move on up, while the California teams take a step back.

A lot has changed in the Pacific Division in the past week, as we’ve seen some teams climb in the group standings, while some have begun to fall off.

The San Jose Sharks have posted a 2-2-0 record through the four games they played this week, scoring 11 goals and also allowing 11 goals, They defeated the Ottawa Senators 2-1, and the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 in back-to-back games in Ontario, but went on to fall 4-3 to the Boston Bruins, and 3-1 to the Nashville Predators in their games upon returning Stateside. They hold a 4-2-0 record on the season.

Here’s a look at their division rivals over the last week:

Anaheim Ducks (2-4-1)

The Ducks lost all three games that they played this week, and are looking like they’re falling back down to earth after an impressive start to the season. Anaheim is currently on a four-game losing streak, losing 5-1 to the Winnipeg Jets, then a 4-3 overtime heartbreaker to the Minnesota Wild, before finally losing another game in regulation to the Jets by a score of 4-3, despite leading the game with 1:30 remaining.

Troy Terry leads the team with 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists). Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has also been fantastic to start the season, scoring 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists). Trevor Zegras’ production has been disappointing, putting up 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists), but it’s hard to blame him for that, as he hasn't been utilized as much as he deserves. Goaltender John Gibson was looking like a Vezina candidate to start the season, but has slowly fallen back down to form, as he’s posted a 2-2-1 record to go with a .909 save percentage (SV%) and -0.17 goals saved above expectation (GSAx) this season.

On the injury front, they are still missing rookie Mason McTavish, who was placed on injured reserve last week with a lower-body injury. They also have lost winger Max Jones for the season, as he suffered a torn pectoral muscle.

Calgary Flames (4-1-1)

After starting their season off very poorly, the Flames have bounced back mightily, and are currently riding a four-game winning streak. Through this week, Calgary took down the Detroit Red Wings with a 3-0 shutout, before moving on to the Washington Capitals, exchanging consecutive three-goal runs en route to a 4-3 overtime victory. They continued to dominate, putting up five goals on both the New York Rangers (5-1) and New Jersey Devils (5-3).

The Flames’ leading point-scorers are Johnny Gaudreau, (0 goals, 8 assists) and Elias Lindholm (7 goals, 1 assist) with 8 points each. Andrew Mangiapane has also had an amazing start to the season, with 7 goals through six games. Jacob Markstrom has seemed to bounce back after a rough campaign last year, holding a 2-1-1 record, a .934 SV% and 1.47 GSAx.

Michael Stone has yet to play this season after landing on COVID Protocol, and prospect Connor Zary is still listed on IR-Non-roster, and is expected to be sent down to the AHL’s Stockton Heat when he’s healthy.

Edmonton Oilers (5-1-0)

The Oilers went 2-1-0 on the week, defeating the Arizona Coyotes demandingly with a 5-1 score, and then the Vegas Golden Knights, 5-3. They took their first loss of the season last night when they fell 5-3 to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Connor McDavid continues to put up historical numbers, as he now has 15 points (7 goals, 8 assists) through just six games. He has easily been the most valuable player in the NHL to start this season. Along with him, Leon Draisaitl has been great as well, with 12 points (4 goals, 8 assists), and as has Zach Hyman, with 7 points (6 goals, 1 assist). Mikko Koskinen is 3-1-0 with a .926 SV% to what has been a pretty nice campaign for him thus far.

The Oilers have been quite unlucky with injuries, as Alex Stalock, Oscar Klefbom and Josh Archibald are all likely done for the season unless said otherwise. They are also without their usual starting goaltender in Mike Smith, who is still on IR with a leg injury.

Los Angeles Kings (1-4-1)

The start of the season was fun for the Kings. Hockey in Los Angeles was looking good, the team was looking energized, and then reality hit. Since then, the Kings have lost five straight games, and have struggled to really find an identity. In the last week, they lost 3-2 to the Dallas Stars in overtime, playing a dominate game that lacked consistent goaltending, and then lost back-to-back games to the St. Louis Blues, over which they were outscored 10-3.

Anze Kopitar has been terrific for the Kings, with 9 points (6 goals, 3 assists). His line mates Dustin Brown and Viktor Arvidsson have also been sniffing around a point-per-game territory. Cal Petersen and Jonathan Quick have split starts, and honestly, Quick has been the better of the two, as his .908 SV% and -1.19 GSAx top Petersen’s .885 SV% and -2.89 GSAx.

Injuries for the Kings have been brutal as well. Quinton Byfield is still out with the ankle injury he suffered in preseason, and Lias Andersson is missing with a groin injury as well. Andreas Athanasiou has yet to play due to an undisclosed injury, but is skating in a no-contact jersey as of yesterday. The team has also taken hits on the blueline, as Sean Walker has torn his MCL and ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. Meanwhile, Drew Doughty, who was putting together an early-season Norris campaign, is expected to miss eight weeks with a knee injury.

Seattle Kraken (2-4-1)

The Kraken didn’t see much action this past week, playing just two games and going 1-1-0. They lost their home opener to the Vancouver Canucks, 4-2, but then won their first ever game in Seattle three days later, running the Montreal Canadiens out of the arena, 5-1.

Former Penguins forwards Jared McCann and Brandon Tanev are the top scoring leaders, with 7 and 5 points, respectively. Jaden Schwartz has struggled to find his game thus far, with just 2 points through seven games while averaging 19:54 minutes each game, which is uncharacteristic of him. Starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer has been exposed early on, and holds a 2-3-1 record, along with a .883 SV% and -3.92 GSAx. Seattle will need more consistency from him going forward if they want to contend for a playoff spot.

Marcus Johansson and Chris Driedger have been placed on IR with their respective injuries, and yesterday, Mason Appleton was added as well. Colin Blackwell has yet to make his season debut, has he struggles with a lower-body injury.

Vancouver Canucks (3-3-1)

The Canucks should be happy with their week after going 2-1-0. The team took down the Chicago Blackhawks and Seattle Kraken, scoring four goals in each game, before falling to the Minnesota Wild, 3-2.

Off-season addition Conor Garland is tied for point leader, with 8 points (3 goals, 5 assists). J.T. Miller has the same total, but 1 goal and 7 assists. Forward Elias Pettersson has struggled to start this season, with just 1 goal and 3 assists through seven games, however, this week was a step in the right direction, with 2 points in three games. Thatcher Demko holds a 3-2-1 record, .921 SV% and 1.10 GSAx, a crucial part of the team’s success this past week.

The Canucks are stuffed with injuries, currently missing eight players on their roster. Brandon Sutter is still dealing with the long-term effects of COVID, while Justin Dowling, Jason Dickinson and Tucker Poolman are all day-to-day with undisclosed injuries. Tyler Motte and Guillaume Brisebois are on IR-Non-roster, and Micheal Ferland and Brady Keeper are currently on long-term injured reserve.

Vegas Golden Knights (3-4-0)

The Golden Knights probably weren’t the happiest with their week, but they’ll take it. The team went 2-2-0, but only posted one regulation win. They fell 5-3 to the Oilers, before getting shutout by Ilya Sorokin and the New York Islanders, 2-0. They’re now running with a two-game winning streak after defeating the Colorado Avalanche, 3-1, and the Dallas Stars in a late comeback overtime win, 4-3.

Chandler Stephenson leads the team in points, and it isn’t really close, as he has 7 (3 goals, 4 assists) through seven games played. He netted a point-per-game this past week, with 4 points through four games. Goaltender Robin Lehner holds a 2-4-0 record with a .913 SV% and 4.15 GSAx, relying on scoring to win games.

The Golden Knights may have the worst injury trouble in the league this season. Currently, they have Max Pacioretty and Alex Tuch listed on LTIR. On IR is captain Mark Stone, and solid shut-down defender Zach Whitecloud, both of whom are sidelined with lower-body injuries. William Carrier, Mattias Janmark and Nolan Patrick are all day-to-day, while Jake Bischoff, Connor Corcoran and Layton Ahac are all listed as IR-Non-roster. Just really rough luck for this team.