NHL Pacific Division Notebook: Stayin’ Alive

NHL Pacific Division

NHL Pacific Division Notebook:

A week ago, the Edmonton Oilers went out on the road for a four game road trip while sitting seven points back of a playoff spot out west. Today, the Oilers sit four points out of a playoff spot and have returned home after a 2-1-1 trip out east. The club didn’t play great in their first two games, but won both of them in overtime to pick up wins five and six on the season.

After a tough loss in New York on Saturday, the Oilers showed me something last night in Washington. On the second half of a back-to-back set against a team good team, the Oilers controlled play for sixty minutes and picked up a huge point on the road. While they lost in the shootout, Edmonton did a great job securing a point and putting themselves in a spot to get a win.

Edmonton is now four points back of a playoff spot and will play Vegas tomorrow night. While the Golden Knights are still playing good hockey, they have cooled down a little bit. A win tomorrow night could have Edmonton knocking on the door of a playoff spot once again, at worst it will have them right back in with the bubble group.

Edmonton did a good job by putting together a successful road trip. They made up three points in the standings and are once again back within striking distance. You get a feeling if this team is going to make a run, it’s going to have to come right now. Keep an eye on the Oilers this next week. It’s going to tell us a lot about them.

Chomp Chomp:

The Sharks are very much back. A tough comeback victory on Sunday night moved San Jose to 10-6-0 on the season, and has them just four points back of the division lead. Martin Jones is playing great hockey right now, while Logan Couture has posted 15 points on the season. The Sharks best players have been their best players recently, and it’s allowed them to get their season back on track after a bit of a tough start.

The most interesting thing about this San Jose team? Brent Burns really hasn’t started doing his thing yet. Burns has just seven assists on the season and no goals while going a -5. You have to think at some point he gets rolling again, and when that happens the Sharks can only get better.

Jagr Is Back:

Calgary has been off since Thursday night, but in that win Jaromir Jagr finally found the back of the net. The living legend’s first goal as a Flame helped spark a 6-3 victory on Detroit, one that pushed the Flames back above the playoff cutline. Calgary is 9-7-0 and they sit in the second wild card position this morning.

Tonight will be a good test for Calgary, as they host a tough St. Louis team at the Saddledome. On a night where just two games take place, Flames V. Blues is easily your game of the night.

The Rest Of The Gang:

– The LA Kings are facing true adversity for the second time this season. They passed the first test when Jeff Carter went down, but now LA has lost two in a row while Vegas and San Jose are knocking on the door in the Pacific. Will these Kings be able to handle the adversity again and push through? I think they are certainly good enough to do so. It’ll be an interesting week for them, as they host Vancouver tomorrow night and Boston later in the week.

– Vegas has cooled off a bit here, but still posted a 5-4-1 record in their last ten contests. The Golden Knights sit at 10-5-1 and will be in Edmonton tomorrow night for their first Western Canadian trip. Interesting to note that Vegas is 7-1-0 at home but just 3-4-1 on the road. That road record needs to get better if they want to be a serious playoff contender.

– The Canucks, like the Kings, have lost two in a row and are facing adversity. Why is Vancouver’s adversity tougher to face? The Canucks are loaded with young players and a new NHL coach in Travis Green. I think Green has done a great job to this point, and expect that he’ll successfully navigate through this stretch. Green and the Canucks, fittingly, are in Vancouver tomorrow night after getting waxed 5-0 in San Jose on Saturday.

– The Ducks are off until Wednesday night when they host Boston, but they are reeling right now. Anahiem is extremely banged up and lost Ryan Getzlaf to injury since we last spoke. At some point, the injuries are going to pile up and simply be too much to handle for this Duck team. Are we at that point? The next two weeks will answer that question for us. Like the Oilers, the Ducks simply can’t afford to fall too far behind.

– Arizona lost again on Saturday, 4-1 to Winnipeg. At 2-14-3, the Yotes are essentially out of it at this point. The good news? Clayton Keller looks like an absolute stud and should be Arizona’s franchise face moving froward. That’s a huge development. Also a positive? AHL Tucson’s first line. Young players Dylan Strome, Lawson Crouse and Nick Merkley have lit the AHL on fire this season. They all should be full-time Coyotes by this point next year.

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Photo Credit: Connor Mah/Flickr

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