Pacific Division Weekly: All eyes on Vancouver

The Canucks had playoff dreams, but a brutal start to the season has the team grasping at straws.

The season has barely started and already things look like they’re slipping away in Vancouver. The Canucks have not lived up to expectations and everyone is angry, including head coach Bruce Boudreau.

As of this writing, Vancouver is seventh in the Pacific Division. The only reason the team is ahead of the Sharks is because it has played one fewer game. The fact is that Vancouver has yet to win a game this season and those two overtime losses aren’t going to keep anyone’s jobs safe.

Things are so bad, Boudreau called out the players earlier this week, saying they were “mentally weak.” The comments came after Monday’s 6-4 loss to the Washington Capitals. It wasn’t the loss so much as the way the team lost, giving up four unanswered goals in the third period.

And that’s after the Canucks gave up three unanswered goals on Saturday in a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. To say the Canucks are reeling would be an understatement.

The team tried to pull it together on Tuesday against Columbus and led 3-2 with 13 minutes left in the third period. But then Johnny Gaudreau scored in regulation and Vladislav Gavrikov netted the game winner in overtime and the Canucks had a single point to show for the effort.

Thursday night was even worse.

Going into the third period, the Canucks led 3-2. But a power play goal midway through the period by the Minnesota Wild forced the game into overtime. That’s when Kirill Kaprizov sealed it for the Wild. The Canucks fell 4-3.

The Canucks are fragile and if something doesn’t change soon, Boudreau could be out of a job.

Meanwhile, Vancouver isn’t the only Pacific Division team helping those east coasters pad their stats.

Anaheim Ducks (1-3-1)

This Week: 4 GP, 0-3-1
Injuries: None
Game to Watch: Ducks 1, Bruins 2, Thursday, Oct. 20

The east coast swing is not going well for the Ducks, who have been outscored 19-8 in the last four games — most of those goals came at even-strength.

Things started out poorly on Saturday on Long Island. Anaheim allowed five unanswered goals against the New York Islanders in two periods. Troy Terry tried to make things interesting at the top of the third period, but it was too little too late. The Islanders won 7-1.

Two nights later, and it was the New York Rangers picking the Ducks apart. Though Anaheim did not allow a power play goal all night against the Islanders, the team gave up three power play goals on just four power plays against the Rangers. That was Anaheim’s undoing at Madison Square Garden, falling 6-4.

No rest for the road weary, the Ducks headed back onto the ice Tuesday night to face the New Jersey Devils. Anaheim rallied early and left the first period up two goals to nil. However, it was all Devils after that. The Ducks allowed four unanswered goals and lost 4-2.

Anaheim seemed to find its footing on Thursday against the Boston Bruins. The Ducks held the injury-ridden Bruins to no score after one and left the second period tied at one. In fact, Anaheim took things all the way to the shootout, but could not put one past Bruins’ goaltender Linus Ullmark. Ducks lose 2-1.

Since there aren’t a lot of positive highlights to watch, check this out instead:

Calgary Flames (3-1-0)

This Week: 3 GP, 2-1-0
Injuries: Noah Hanifin (undisclosed)
Game to Watch: Flames 4, Oilers 3, Saturday, Oct. 15

If you looked at the Flames’ schedule heading into the week with the Edmonton Oilers, Vegas Golden Knights and Buffalo Sabres on the docket, it would be easy to understand that Calgary might lose one of those games. However, the Sabres would probably be the last bet on your list.

The Battle of Alberta lived up to its name on Saturday. The Flames reeled off four goals in the first period and it looked like the team had the Oilers on the ropes at 4-1. But Edmonton roared back in the second with two unanswered goals. Calgary locked things down in the third to secure the 4-3 win.

On Tuesday, the Flames played host to another division rival, the Golden Knights. This time it was Calgary’s turn to show resiliency. The team finished the first period down 2-0, but tied things up in the second. Mikael Backlund scored the game winner in the third, the only goal of that period for either team. The Flames won 3-2 in regulation.

On Thursday, Calgary ran into a Buffalo team desperate to prove it’s the real deal. While Calgary scored first, Buffalo followed with three unanswered goals in the first period. A shorthanded goal by Casey Mittlestadt was the dagger. Then Alex Tuch scored for Buffalo at the start of the second and it was all over. Tuch would add two more goals for the hat trick and the Flames could not muster a strong response. The team fell 6-3 to Buffalo.

If you’re talking about a play of the week, look at the work Backlund does for that game winning goal against the Golden Knights:

Edmonton Oilers (2-2-0)

This Week: 3 GP, 1-2-0
Injuries: Dylan Holloway (upper body), Oscar Klefbom (shoulder), Mike Smith (undisclosed)
Game to Watch: Hurricanes 4, Oilers 6, Thursday, Oct. 20

The Oilers were supposed to be battling with the Flames for the top spot in the Pacific Division, but with a 2-2-0 record, the team is middle of the pack. The aforementioned 4-3 loss to the Flames was especially disappointing because the team lost the even-strength match-up 3-2. Jack Campbell, who was supposed to be the Oilers’ answer in goal, allowed 4 goals on 11 shots and was pulled less than 11 minutes into the game.

Campbell got Tuesday night off against Buffalo, but the Oilers walked away with the same result: a 4-2 loss. Edmonton was outscored 2-0 at even-strength in the second period.

Thursday was another opportunity for Edmonton to prove it is a top-tier team. This time, the Oilers stepped up, jumping on the Carolina Hurricanes for a 6-4 win. If there’s one concern for the Oilers, it’s that it can’t seem to win that 5-on-5 battle. Three of Edmonton’s goals came on special teams and one other goal was an empty-netter.

As for highlights, check out last night’s shorty from Ryan McLeod:

Los Angeles Kings (3-3-0)

This Week: 4 GP, 3-1-0
Injuries: Alex Iaffalo (lower body), Alexander Edler (face)
Game to Watch: Kings 7, Wild 6, Saturday, Oct. 15

On a road trip, it doesn’t matter how you win, as long as you secure the W. The Kings are on the first road trip of the season and it’s going well. LA has secured six of a possible eight points and has one more game to go (Washington on Saturday) before heading home.

The trip started with an offensive slugfest against the Minnesota Wild. The Kings scored three goals in the first 12 minutes of the game. While Minnesota tried to rally back, LA managed to maintain the lead for the rest of the game, winning 7-6. It was not a stellar outing for goaltender Cal Petersen, who ended the game with a .829 save percentage, but at least he secured the win.

On Monday, the Kings headed to Detroit for another seesaw battle, this one with the Red Wings. Phillip Danault scored two goals in the game including the overtime winner. The Kings skated off with a 5-4 win.

The next night, the team was in Nashville and it was another extended game. No one scored in overtime, but Petersen stopped all the shots he faced in the shootout and Gabriel Vilardi scored the lone shootout goal to lock in the 4-3 shootout victory.

There’s not much to write home about when it comes to Thursday’s game in Pittsburgh. You can chalk it up to road weariness. The Kings did not score until 2:38 left in the third period and lost  6-1 to the Penguins. Petersen and Jonathan Quick each allowed three goals apiece in the loss.

I’ll leave you with Danault’s game winner.

Seattle Kraken (1-2-2)

This Week: 3 GP, 0-2-1
Injuries: Joonas Donskoi (upper body), Chris Driedger (torn ACL)
Game to Watch: Blues 4, Kraken 3, Thursday, Oct. 20

The three-game homestand did not go well for the Seattle Kraken. The team claimed just one of a possible six points. The home opener on Saturday was against the Golden Knights. Vegas put up five goals to the Seattle’s two. It was even worse on Monday, when the Hurricanes beat the Kraken 5-1.

While Seattle battled to get a single point out of Wednesday’s game with the St. Louis Blues, the Kraken could not make it happen in overtime. Justin Faulk scored the game winner for the Blues, who won 4-3.

Seattle heads back out on the road this week, starting things off in Colorado today.

There are not many highlights to share, so check out the moves by Seattle’s mascot instead:

Vancouver Canucks (0-3-2)

This Week: 4 GP, 0-2-2
Injuries: Tucker Poolman (undisclosed), Riley Stillman (undisclosed)
Game to Watch: Canucks 3, Wild 4, Thursday, Oct. 20

We’ve already talked about the woes in Vancouver. I’ll leave it there.

It seems mean to kick a team when it’s down, but that game winning goal during last night’s game against the Wild is pretty much a summation of how Vancouver’s season is going so far.

Vegas Golden Knights (4-1-0)

This Week: 3 GP, 2-1-0
Injuries: Robin Lehner (hip)
Game to Watch: Golden Knights 5, Jets 2, Thursday, Oct. 20

Turns out Adin Hill isn’t half bad when a team that can control the puck plays in front of him. Hill stopped 33 shots in Vegas’ 5-2 win over the Kraken on Saturday. Jonathan Marchessault scored two goals in the game.

Hill got the night off in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Flames, but was right back in net on Thursday for the team’s 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets. He made 28 saves in the win, while Jack Eichel netted two goals in the game.

I leave you today with Eichel’s second goal against the Jets.