Pacific Division Weekly: Biting costs Kings

The Kings have a biter, plus career point nights and new arena names.

If there’s one hallmark to the Pacific Division, it’s that it’s a wide-open race to the Stanley Cup playoffs. The division has some of the best teams in the league, some of the worst, and a middle pack of teams that have so far defied expectations and might be making a case for a wild card spot.

Anaheim Ducks (16-5-0)

The Ducks returned from the Holiday break with a 0-4 shutout win over the Ottawa Senators. On Sunday, the team celebrated Captain Ryan Getzlaf hitting 1,000 career points ahead of their 5-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The next game was on the road, the first of a back-to-back, though the team didn’t have to go too far. First came a stop in Los Angeles, for a high-scoring game that went all the way to a shootout before Anaheim snagged the 5-4 victory. The scoring didn’t stop there, as the Ducks took a 6-5 win over the Vegas Golden Knights at Honda Center the next night.

Troy Terry opened scoring in both of those wins. Trevor Zegras (3 assists), Jamie Drysdale (1 goal, 1 assist) Isaac Lundestrom (2 goals) and Kevin Shattenkirk (1 goal, 1 assist) also kept the Ducks afloat in the back-to-back series.

Calgary Flames (13-4-5)

I didn’t expect the Calgary Flames to be on fire this early in the season, but the team both leads the league in shutouts with seven and they’re also sitting near the top of the standings with 31 points.

Calgary traded wins and losses this week, with a 4-2 loss against the struggling Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, and 2-1 shootout win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday. The Flames’ current point-leader is Johnny Gaudreau, who is leading the team with 25 points (9 goals, 16 assists) in 22 games, including 2 assists in the the loss to Winnipeg and the first goal of the shootout against Pittsburgh.

Edmonton Oilers (16-5-0)

Someone has to figure out what they’re feeding the Oilers, because this team has been a beast. It was a relatively quiet week, with a 3-2 win over Vegas on Saturday to finish out the month of November. On Wednesday, the Oilers faced the Penguins, taking a 5-2 win that featured back-to-ack goals from winger Zach Hyman.

Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid are in a race for point-leader, as the pair score at nearly a 2 points per game pace. It’s no wonder Draisaitl (20 goals, 21 assists) was named the NHL’s first star of the month for November.

Los Angeles Kings (9-8-4)

The most notable thing to happen to the Kings this week was Brendan Lemieux taking a chomp out of Brady Tkachuk, not once, but twice, in the Kings’ 2-4 win over the Senators on Saturday, Nov. 27. Lemieux was suspended for five games for only one bite, however, since through video footage, the league could only verify the initial bite (darn camera angles). In any other profession, if you bite a coworker you’re probably fired. In the NHL, you’ll just get made fun of on Twitter for the next ten years.

To celebrate Lemieux’s suspension, the Kings lost their next game 5-4 in a shootout against the Ducks, which also marked Drew Doughty’s premature return to the line-up following a knee-on-knee incident early in the season. Doughty was meant to be out until late December.

On Dec. 1, the Kings claimed Christian Wolanin off waivers from the Buffalo Sabres, and he’ll join the organization via their AHL team, the Ontario Reign, where he was assigned — meaning no other teams put in a claim on the 26-year-old defender.

Seattle Kraken (8-13-2)

Whether or not the Seattle Kraken are considered good depends on the day. The team had been bobbing around the bottom of the standings, but their most recent games might be evidence that they’re putting it together. Ahead of their 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning last Friday, Yanni Gourde and his family were honored with their Stanley Cup rings from the previous season’s win.

The next night was the ol’ Florida back-to-back, with a surprising 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers. That marked Jordan Eberle’s 800th career NHL game, and to celebrate, he potted 2 goals for the Kraken. The Kraken kept things moving with a 7-4 win over the Sabres on Monday. Carson Soucy (and then Brandon Tanev) scored the first short-handed goals in Kraken history that night.

On Wednesday, the Kraken placed goaltender Chris Driedger on injured reserve and called up Joey Daccord, along with Kole Lind, from the Charlotte Checkers. The Kraken faced off against the Detroit Red Wings that night, ending in a 4-3 shootout loss.

Vancouver Canucks (8-14-2)

For all the mismanagement of the Canucks organization, general manger Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green have so far held onto their jobs, but it does feel like a ticking time bomb. How many more games can the Canucks lose before a change is made either behind, or on, the bench? There’s plenty of trade rumors circling the team, including Evander Kane’s agent reaching out to the team, and Brock Boeser allegedly on the way out.

Whatever’s coming though, it’s influenced by their losses. On Friday, the Canucks lost 4-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Vancouver lost again, 3-2 to the Boston Bruins, on Sunday, but pulled it together to restore hope in the fanbase with a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.  on Monday. Quinn Hughes reached his 100th NHL assist in that game, as well. I feel for the Canucks roster, because disillusioned ownership, media pressure, and a losing record get mentally and emotionally exhausting quick, and can wreak havoc on a locker room.

Closing out a five-game road trip, the Canucks met the bumbling Senators on Wednesday, heading home after a 6-2 win.

Vegas Golden Knights (12-10-0)

The Golden Knights had a three-day break this past week, resulting in just two games since we last checked in. Edmonton came to visit on Saturday and left Vegas with a 3-2 win. With three days to recover from the loss, the team headed to Anaheim. The Ducks handed them another one-goal loss, with a 6-5 final score.

Most of the Golden Knights’ roster is seemingly on the injured reserve, but things are looking up; the team has been looking more cohesive and competent, even in their god-awful gold buckets. Vegas is currently sitting just below San Jose, fifth overall in the Pacific, and a couple of points back from a wild card spot. How the tables have turned.