Pacific Division Weekly: Darryl Sutter calls out Flames’ “bulls—t”

The Stanley Cup contenders have lost seven in a row.

The wheels have come off in Calgary. A few weeks ago, we were talking about the losses piling up in Vancouver. Now, the attention of the league has turned to the Calgary Flames.

Vancouver was a borderline Stanley Cup contender at best, but Calgary was on everyone’s list after the first few games of the season and especially after that win over the Edmonton Oilers. The Flames went on to win five of the team’s first six games of the season. It’s been all losses since then — Calgary has not won since Oct. 25.

This past week was especially tough. Calgary lost to the New Jersey Devils at home 4-3 in overtime and then hit the road. Another overtime loss on Monday against the New York Islanders 4-3 was followed the next day by a 3-2 loss to the Devils.

The Flames' road trip didn’t get better on Thursday when the team ran head-on into the league-leading Boston Bruins, not to mention a Bruins team that just happened to get Charlie McAvoy back in the line-up. McAvoy scored in his return game and the Bruins beat the Flames 3-1.

Calgary is headed home to face the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night.

There’s no one person to blame for Calgary’s woes, it’s falling on everyone’s shoulders. Head coach Darryl Sutter isn’t happy with the defensive depth of his team.

According to Sportsnet, Sutter told reporters on Tuesday before the game against the Devils, “We’ve got guys, what did we play them last night, 23 to 27 [minutes]? That means those guys are doing everything they can and this depth stuff we talked about in the summer, it’s a bunch of bulls—t.

“There isn’t one guy in training camp that even took a step towards being a sixth or seventh or eighth defenceman and we’re playing them now, so it’s time to ripen the apple a bit for them,” continued Sutter.

Jonathan Huberdeau is also getting an earful from Sutter, who called the forward “a work in progress.” Hours after the comments, Huberdeau was scratched from the game against the Devils. He’s now listed as day-to-day with a foot injury and has missed the last two games.

Even with all the drama, the Flames still sit in fifth place in the Pacific Division, showing just how weak some of the teams within the division are.

Anaheim Ducks (4-9-1)

This Week: 3 GP, 1-2-0
Injuries: Adam Henrique (personal), Derek Grant (upper-body Injury), Jamie Drysdale (torn shoulder labrum)
Game to Watch: Ducks (5) at Sharks (4) SO, Saturday, Nov. 5

The Ducks had one success this week. Unfortunately, it was a win over the Sharks. Other than that, there’s not much to celebrate in Anaheim. The team has been outscored 9-4 in its last two games. The Ducks lost to the Florida Panthers 5-3 on Sunday and the Minnesota Wild 4-1 on Wednesday.

The real trouble for Anaheim is the number of goals the team has let in this season. The team averages 4.6 goals against per game, ranking it 31st in the NHL. Special teams are just as bad: the penalty kill is an abysmal 63.6 percent, while the power play is converting just 10.3 percent of the time. At the moment, nothing seems to be going well in Southern California.

As if to prove it, check out this goal by Trevor Zegras that was called off due to an offside review:

Calgary Flames (5-5-2)

This Week: 4 GP, 0-2-2
Injuries: Jonathan Huberdeau (foot), Michael Stone (undisclosed), Christopher Tanev (upper-body injury)
Game to Watch: Flames (3) at Islanders (4) OT, Monday, Nov. 7

All of the Flames' woes were pretty much covered above. The team isn’t doing well and the loss to one of the top teams in the NHL (the Bruins) on Thursday proved that Calgary has a long way to go.

Since there aren’t a lot of highlights to share this week, why not hear from Rasmus Andersson on the latest loss?

Edmonton Oilers (8-6-0)

This Week: 4 GP, 1-3-0
Injuries: Evander Kane (wrist)
Game to Watch: Oilers (3) at Lightning (2), Tuesday, Nov. 8

The big story for the Oilers this week was the scary scene on the ice involving Evander Kane. On Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Kane was battling for the puck when he slid into the boards. He ended up on the ice. That’s when another player came along and stepped on his bare wrist. It was a frightening accident that left Kane bleeding and sprinting for the bench.

He was rushed to the hospital and underwent surgery to repair the damage. Kane is expected to miss the next three to four months while he recovers.

It will be interesting to see how the Oilers fare without Kane on the ice. This past week was a test against some of the top teams in the league, and it did not go well. Edmonton wrapped up the homestand on Saturday, Nov. 5, with a 6-2 loss to the Dallas Stars. Jamie Benn netted a hat trick for the visiting Stars.

Monday in Washington didn’t go much better. The Oilers lost to the Capitals 4-5. While the Oilers beat the Lightning 3-2 on Tuesday, Thursday was difficult. The Oilers lost 7-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Despite all the losses, Connor McDavid is hitting another level. The Oilers’ captain has 15 goals in 15 games, including this one in the loss to Carolina:

Los Angeles Kings (9-6-1)

This Week: 3 GP, 3-0-0
Injuries: Alex Iafallo (lower-body injury)
Game to Watch: Panthers (4) at Kings (5), Saturday, Nov. 5

While some of the expected top teams in the Pacific Division are floundering, the Kings have strung together a series of wins. Los Angeles won all three of its match-ups this week, including two against playoff contenders.

The Kings started the week out with a 5-4 win over the Panthers on Nov. 5. Then, on Tuesday, the team beat the Minnesota Wild in a tight 1-0 victory. Jonathan Quick made 21 saves to earn the shutout. Quick is having an excellent season compared to Cal Petersen, who was supposed to be his heir apparent and take over the net this season. Quick is in the final year of his 10-year deal with the Kings, so that’s likely a factor in his elevated play.

On Thursday night, Quick continued to shine as the Kings beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime. He made 29 saves for his sixth win of the season. However, the hero of the game was Kevin Fiala with the game-winning goal as time was running out.

Seattle Kraken (8-4-2)

This Week: 2 GP, 2-0-0
Injuries: Jamie Oleksiak (undisclosed), Jared McCann (lower-body injury)
Game to Watch: Kraken (3) at Penguins (2), Saturday, Nov. 5

One of the big surprises of the season is the Seattle Kraken. The team currently sits in third place in the Pacific Division, though with two games in hand against the second-place Kings. Seattle is on a five-game winning streak and two of those wins came this week.

On Saturday, the Kraken beat the Penguins 3-2. The team followed it up with a 5-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. Jordan Eberle netted two goals in the win.

Rookie Matty Beniers has posted nine points this season, but went cold in the past three games. That’s OK, because the Kraken is getting balanced scoring. Every roster player has at least one goal this season, except for recent draft pick Shane Wright.

Wright isn’t getting a lot of playing time with the Kraken as of late. He needs some extra conditioning at a lower level, but the league’s agreement with Canadian juniors prevents him from being sent down to the AHL. He gets a nine-game audition in the NHL before the team will have to make a decision: he either stays with the team or goes down to the OHL. There’s no middle ground. He’s played in seven games so far.

Vancouver Canucks (4-7-3)

This Week: 3 GP, 1-1-1
Injuries: Tanner Pearson (undisclosed)
Game to Watch: Canucks (6) at Senators (4), Tuesday, Nov. 8

Digging out of the hole that the Canucks fell into at the start of the season is not going to be easy. While Vancouver did better this week than it has in weeks past, it’s still not great. The Canucks are going to need to grab more than 50 percent of points possible if the team wants to get back into the playoff race.

Vancouver pushed things to a shootout against Nashville on Nov. 5, but could not claim that extra point. On Tuesday, the team beat the Ottawa Senators 6-4, with a pair of goals from Bo Horvat, who leads the team with 12 on the season. Defender Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored his first goal of the season, as well.

Then, the Canucks lost 5-2 to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.

Vancouver has three more games in its five game road trip. It’s not going to get easier. Next stop in Toronto, followed by Boston and then Buffalo.

While Canucks fans did not have much to celebrate this week, there was a bright spot as the twins Henrick and Daniel Sedin were welcomed into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Vegas Golden Knights (13-2-0)

This Week: 3 GP, 3-0-0
Injuries: Robin Lehner (hip), Shea Weber (ankle), Nolan Patrick (upper body)
Game to Watch: Golden Knights (7) at Sabres (4), Thursday, Nov. 10

While things are bleak for most of the teams in the Pacific Division, that’s not the case for the Vegas Golden Knights. The team leads the entire league with 26 points. So far, Vegas has only lost two games this season.

Those losses did not come this week. Vegas rolled through Montreal 6-4 on Nov. 5 and followed it up with a 4-3 overtime win in Toronto on Tuesday. Then on Thursday, Jack Eichel returned to Buffalo to face his old team the Sabres. The center was better prepared this time around, netting himself a hat trick. Eichel now has 9 goals this season and 19 points to lead his team.