Pacific Division Weekly: Shake up in Vancouver
Plus, another goal of the year candidate.
Trevor Zegras tossed out what could be the assist of the year. The Vancouver Canucks hired a new voice behind the bench. Plus, Robin Lehner puts his mental health over playing for his country in the Olympics.
Here’s what happened in the Pacific Division this past week:
Anaheim Ducks (14-8-5)
The Ducks continue to hold tight near the top of the Pacific Division, even after facing some of the toughest teams in the league. Anaheim pushed the Calgary Flames to a shootout before falling short 4-3 on Friday.
Then on Monday, the Ducks hit the road and paid a visit to Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Anaheim put up a good fight, scoring all three of its goals in the second period, but couldn’t hold to the lead. The team lost in a shootout 4-3.
Tuesday night was much better for Anaheim. The team beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 with goaltender Anthony Stolarz making 25 saves in the win. The 27-year-old has done well whenever he is called in to relieve John Gibson. Stolarz has a 4-2-1 record this season with a 2.42 goals against average and .928 save percentage.
But the real story Tuesday night was Trevor Zegras, who has started to make his mark on the score sheet. He has 22 points (6 goals, 16 assists) this season, with 8 of those assists coming in the last four games. His best assist was this one against Buffalo:
HOW DID TREVOR ZEGRAS DO THAT!? 😱 pic.twitter.com/CqbZPLCJVx— ESPN (@espn) December 8, 2021
The Ducks need young guys like Zegras to step up. Ryan Getzlaf has joined Max Comtois on injured reserve and Adam Henrique isn’t with the team on the current East Coast road trip.
Calgary Flames (15-6-5)
The Flames are headed home after a Pacific Division road trip that started well and fizzled out at the end. Calgary beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Thursday, then followed it with a 4-3 shootout win over the Ducks on Friday.
Sunday, the Flames dropped a tough one in Vegas, losing to the Golden Knights, 3-2. The road trip wrapped up in San Jose on Tuesday with a 5-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks. Head Coach Darryl Sutter was “disappointed” with his team’s defensive performance.
While defensively, the Flames needed some work, offensively, Johnny Gaudreau’s hands are fire.
A BOLD strategy leaving Johnny alone in front 😏 pic.twitter.com/SiAag8qz3u— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) December 8, 2021
Tyler Pitlick is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
Edmonton Oilers (16-8-0)
After going 9-4-0 in November, the Oilers are starting out December on a downswing. Edmonton lost all three of its games this week. They lost 4-3 to the Seattle Kraken on Friday and followed it with a 5-1 loss to the Kings on Sunday. On Tuesday, Edmonton was trounced by the Minnesota Wild by a score of 4-1.
The Oilers are without Cody Ceci, who was placed in COVID-19 Protocol. Defenseman Duncan Keith is still out with an upper-body injury. The team is also missing Slater Koekkoek and goaltender Mike Smith.
Defenseman Darnell Nurse returned this week after missing several games with a fractured finger. Nurse scored his first goal of the season against the Kings.
On the McDavid-Draisaitl watch, the two superstars are currently tied for the team lead in points with 43 apiece. Connor McDavid has 16 goals and 27 assists, while Leon Draisaitl has 21 goals and 22 assists.
Since there aren’t many highlights for the Oilers this week, check out this assist from Connor McDavid during the team’s loss to Minnesota.
Not sure HOW Connor found Jesse on this one but we're glad he did. #LetsGoOilers pic.twitter.com/acliE9ZtkN— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) December 8, 2021
Los Angeles Kings (10-10-4)
This past week has been a bit of a head-scratcher for the Kings. They lost to the Calgary Flames 3-2 on Thursday, but then turned around and beat a much better Edmonton Oilers team 5-1 on Sunday. Then, on Monday, they fell to the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 in Bruce Boudreau’s debut as Vancouver’s new head coach.
The Kings are without Blake Lizotte, who tested positive for COVID-19. Andreas Athanasiou is also on COVID-19 Protocol — last season, he spent quite a bit of time on the protocol, so hopefully this doesn’t trigger any health complications. The team is expected to get Brendan Lemieux back in time for Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Wild. Lemieux is currently serving his five-game suspension for biting Brady Tkachuck of the Ottawa Senators.
Team goals-leader Adrian Kempe got the game winner against the Oilers.
"Good, you?" - @AdrianKempe#GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/D35kQp0LYF— LA Kings (@LAKings) December 6, 2021
Seattle Kraken (9-14-2)
The Kraken isn’t making it any easier for anyone to figure out whether the team is good or bad. The team beat the Oilers 4-3 on Friday, but then lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-1 on Monday.
The Kraken placed back-up goaltender Chris Driedger on injured reserve at the end of November. There’s no word on when he’ll be back. Mark Giordano is back practicing with the team after serving some time in COVID Protocol. Calle Jarnkrok is also expected to be back soon.
In terms of highlights, check out this Indigenous Peoples jersey the Kraken created.
Created by local artist Fox Spears & inspired by Karuk basketry designs, tonight's specialty #SeaKraken Indigenous Peoples jerseys will be worn during warm ups & available in tonight's @OneRoofFdn #AnchorAuction.— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) December 6, 2021
Bid for a chance to take one home → https://t.co/E1BlhmxrfA pic.twitter.com/XDOJgDYCBE
Vancouver Canucks (10-15-2)
If you ask Canucks fans, Bruce Boudreau has turned the tide! Following a 4-1 Saturday loss to the Penguins, the Canucks cleaned house. The team fired general manager Jim Benning, assistant general manager John Weisbrod, head coach Travis Green and assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner.
Boudreau was quickly installed as the team’s head coach and Vancouver won that Monday night. The Canucks beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-0 and then defeated the Boston Bruins 2-1 in a shootout on Wednesday.
Here’s Bo Horvat with one of two Vancouver’s shootout goals:
CAPTAIN ENDS IT. pic.twitter.com/SD9DzM2iK0— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) December 9, 2021
Thatcher Demko made 31 saves in the win over the Kings and then followed it up with 36 saves in the game against Boston.
Better yet, Brock Boeser has finally started scoring again. The winger hadn’t scored since Nov. 7, but he notched a goal against the Kings and a goal against the Bruins.
Vegas Golden Knights (15-10-0)
The Golden Knights are trying to climb up in the Pacific Division standings, but the only Vegas loss this week was its only game against a Pacific Division rival. Vegas beat the Arizona Coyotes 7-1 on Friday, but then lost to the Flames 3-2 on Sunday. The team followed it up with a 5-4 win over the streaking Dallas Stars on Wednesday.
But the real story out of Sin City is goaltender Robin Lehner, who had the guts to say out loud what many players are thinking. He will not represent Team Sweden in the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
Took long time to make decision with my psychiatrist and family. My well being have too come first and being locked down and not knowing what happens if you test positive is to much of a risk for me. Sweden will have a great team and Markström is a beast.Hope people understand ❤️— Robin Lehner (@RobinLehner) December 6, 2021
Credit to Lehner for placing his mental health ahead of what must have been a lifelong dream.