Pacific Division Weekly: This time it counts

The regular season starts with in-division play.

The pundits and the prognosticators can’t seem to agree on which teams will eke into the playoffs from the Pacific Division this season, but most agree that it’s a two-horse race for the title.

The staff at ESPN was mostly split between the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers, with the Oilers receiving 16 of 29 votes and the Flames receiving 10. The Vegas Golden Knights got two votes from the ESPN crew, while the Los Angeles Kings received one.

Meanwhile, the writers at Sportsnet are evenly split between Edmonton and Calgary. They’re pretty sure it will be one or the other at the top of the Pacific when the dust settles.

And our friends at Locked on Sports have the Edmonton Oilers leading the pack, followed by the Calgary Flames, Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks.

But whether you think it will be Calgary, Edmonton or a dark horse like Vancouver winning the division, the good news is it’s a clean slate starting this week.

Anaheim Ducks (1-0-0)

This Week: 1 GP, 1-0-0
Injuries: Urho Vaakanainen (undisclosed), Sam Carrick (hip surgery), John Moore (undisclosed)

The Ducks took flight on the post-Ryan Getzlaf era on Wednesday night against the Seattle Kraken. It wasn’t the smoothest of victories, but the Ducks pulled out a 5-4 overtime win.

Troy Terry tallied two goals and an assist in the game, including the game winner. Meanwhile, rookie first-round draft pick Mason McTavish notched two assists in his NHL debut.

The Ducks hit the road and head to New York to play the Islanders on Saturday.

Calgary Flames (1-0-0)

This Week: 1 GP, 1-0-0
Injuries: Oliver Kylington (shoulder)

In a preview of what could be the Western Conference Final match-up, the new-look Calgary Flames started the season against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche.

Even without last year’s top scorers in Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau, the Flames kept pace with the Avalanche and won 5-3 in the end. The scoring for the Flames was evenly distributed, with four different forwards scoring a goal and Mackenzie Weegar notching his first two points (both assists) in a Flames uniform.

Calgary now heads to Edmonton for the first round of the Battle of Alberta.

Edmonton Oilers (1-0-0)

This Week: 1 GP, 1-0-0
Injuries: Tyler Benson (knee), Oscar Klefbom (shoulder), Mike Smith (undisclosed), Carter Savoie (lower-body), Raphael Lavoie (wrist), Vincent Desharnais (undisclosed)

Connor McDavid is putting that early bid in to take home the Art Ross Trophy and possibly the Rocket Richard, as well.

McDavid scored a hat trick and added an assist on Wednesday night, as the Oilers cruised past the Canucks 5-3 to open the season. He also made it a milestone night, scoring his 700th career point in under 500 NHL games.

The Oilers’ new goaltender Jack Campbell helped secure the win, stopping 33 shots, good enough for a .917 save percentage.

Los Angeles Kings (0-2-0)

This Week: 2 GP, 0-2-2
Injuries: Jacob Ingham (knee), Alex Turcotte (concussion)

If there’s a California team likely to make it into the postseason in April, it’s the Kings. However, they’re not off to the best start.

On Tuesday night, LA had the opportunity to at least secure a point against Vegas, when out of nowhere, Mark Stone scored the tie-breaking goal. With less than 25 seconds left to play, the Kings could not mount the comeback. LA lost 4-3, despite great goaltending by Jonathan Quick, who stopped 47 of the 51 shots he faced.

Things did not go better on Thursday night, when the Kings could not score after the first period. Alex Iaffalo netted the only goal for LA in the 4-1 loss to the Kraken.

Seattle Kraken (1-0-1)

This Week: 2 GP, 1-0-1
Injuries: Joonas Donskoi (upper body), Chris Driedger (ACL tear)

While the Kings weren’t happy with the loss, the Kraken certainly were. The California dreamin’ road trip to start the season netted the team three of a possible four points.

Seattle dropped game one of the two-game swing through SoCal to the Ducks 5-4 in overtime on Wednesday night.

Thursday night, the Kraken were back on the ice, this time in LA. Seattle put up four more goals, but managed to hold the Kings to just a single score. The Kraken won 4-1, with our old friend Martin Jones stopping 26 of the 27 shots he faced for the W.

Vancouver Canucks (0-1-0)

This Week: 1 GP, 0-1-0
Injuries: Travis Dermott (concussion), Tyler Myers (lower body), Ilya Mikheyev (lower body), Phillip Di Giuseppe (lower body), Karel Plasek (knee)

The Canucks’ season did not start the way the team wanted. The 5-3 loss to the Oilers on Wednesday was a poor showing by starting goaltender Thatcher Demko. He made just 24 saves and allowed four goals for the night.

The one bright spot for Vancouver was J.T. Miller, who scored a goal and added an assist on rookie Andrei Kuzmenko’s first NHL goal. If he keeps the production up, he’ll more than earn the seven-year, $56 million contract he signed over the summer.

Vegas Golden Knights (2-0-0)

This Week: 2 GP, 2-0-0
Injuries: Daniil Miromanov (undisclosed), Robin Lehner (hip), Shea Weber (ankle), Nolan Patrick (upper body)

The Golden Knights remain undefeated in this young hockey season. Vegas outshot the Kings 51 to 30 on Tuesday night to secure a last-minute 4-3 win in regulation.

Young goaltender Logan Thompson stopped 27 shots for a passable .900 save percentage to secure the win. It looks like Thompson is the guy Vegas is going to lean on this season with Robin Lehner out long-term. The 25-year-old was back in net on Thursday night against the Chicago Blackhawks. This time, he stopped all 27 of the shots he faced for the shutout.

Despite all of Vegas’ offensive firepower, a kid named Paul Cotter was the only one to score in the game.

Vegas next plays in Seattle on Saturday night.