Pacific Division Notebook: Best of 2018

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It’s hard to believe that 2018 is already coming to a close, but by this time next week we will already be a few days into a new year. 2019 is right around the corner, and will without doubt bring some exciting things to the table. Before we move forward, however, let’s take the chance to look back. Today I bring back the Pacific Division notebook with a look back at the best moment of 2018 for each team.

Let’s get this rolling, shall we?

Anaheim Ducks:

Back To The 90’s: Yes, the Ducks made the playoffs in 2018 but they were swept quite easily by the San Jose Sharks. They didn’t exactly do much this off-season, and they’ve been up to their old tricks so far on the ice this season. Their best moment in 2018? It actually came off the ice. The Ducks were one of a handful of teams that brought back retro jerseys, and boy did they ever hit it out of the park.

Inspired by their original “Mighty Ducks” uniforms, Anaheim’s third jersey is one of the best in the league and has been an instant seller. It might be the only thing with this organization that is universally loved on the ice around the league!

Enjoy them while they last, however. It sounds like these bad boys are going to be a one year jersey.

Arizona Coyotes:

OEL Commits: Many people believed that Oliver Ekman-Larsson would be leaving Arizona as soon as his contract expired. Many media members in other markets around the league began to speculate late last season that a trade could be coming at that OEL had grown tired of the losing and ownership issues in the desert. Lucky for the Yotes and their fans, those rumors simply were not true.

Ekman-Larsson agreed to terms on an eight-year contract on July 1st, committing to the Coyotes for the long-term. Although the playoffs are likely a far cry this season, Arizona has shown signs of being a good team moving forward. There is a lot of young talent there, and OEL committing to the club gives them legitimacy and an established number one defender. Don’t underestimate how important of a moment this was.

Calgary Flames:

Eye Of The Storm: Many people, myself included, were not sure about the major deal struck by the Flames on day two of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. The Flames and Carolina Hurricanes hooked up on a deal that sent Dougie Hamilton, Michael Ferland and prospect Adam Fox out east, while returning Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm to the Flames.

Hamilton has had a bit of a down year for the Canes, while Hanifin has come to Calgary and established himself as a top-four option that is locked up long-term. Lindholm, meanwhile, is one of the most underrated players in the NHL in my opinion and has been a godsend for Calgary’s top-six forward group.

It took a lot of heat at the time, but this deal ended up being Calgary’s best moment in 2018 and has them primed for a big 2019.

Edmonton Oilers:

McDavid’s Big Night: Which one, right? On February 5th, 2018, the Oilers took on the Tampa Bay Lightning in a game many thought would be an offensive explosion for the visitors. There was an explosion, but it was for the home team. Connor McDavid scored four goals, including a few highlight reel markers, to propel Edmonton to a dominating 6-2 victory over the Bolts.

In what was a pretty dark 2018 portion of the 2017-18 season, McDavid’s offensive performance against the Bolts sticks out as Edmonton’s top moment in 2018.

Los Angeles Kings:

Playoff Return: It was short-lived, they were swept in the opening round by Vegas, but the LA Kings did manage to return to the playoffs last spring. On the back of a vintage Dustin Brown season, Anze Kopitar’s best year to date and Jonathan Quick’s resurgent campaign, LA clinched a Wild Card spot and returned to the playoffs after missing in 2017.

Those feel good moments from early spring are gone, the Kings have already made a coaching change and are dead in the water as we approach 2019, but that playoff berth represents the high point of the 2018 calendar year.

San Jose Sharks:

Hello, Erik: It’s not often that a team can add the NHL’s best defender via trade, but the Sharks found themselves in that spot this past summer. They completed a blockbuster deal with the Senators in September that brought Karlsson to the Bay Area, arguably the biggest trade of 2018.

The Sharks are sitting comfortably in a playoff spot, and while it has taken some time for the club to adjust following the deal, Karlsson has been sensational for the Sharks. One of the best possession players in hockey right now, you get the feeling it is only a matter of time until the crocked boxcars follow. Adding a guy like Karlsson is without doubt the best moment of the year for a team like San Jose that might just be a piece or two away.

Vancouver Canucks:

Twin Farewell: There really is no debate about what was the top moment for the Vancouver Canucks in 2018. In their final home game with the club, Henrik and Daniel Sedin gave the city of farewell they will never forget, combining to score the overtime winner against the Coyotes 2:33 into the extra frame. Honestly, the clip is still one that will give you goosebumps today.

Don’t believe me? Just watch.

Vegas Golden Knights:

How The West Was Won: I’m pretty confident in saying that we will never see an inaugural season in sports again quite like the one Vegas had a season ago. Picked by many, myself included, to be one of the worst teams in hockey, the Golden Knights won the Pacific Division and waltzed to the playoffs while helping a city heal from unthinkable tragedy.

Vegas became the first expansion team since the 1967-68 season to make the Stanley Cup Final. What is more impressive? All of the expansion teams that year played in their own conference, meaning one of them had to make the final.

What Vegas did last season was unprecedented and will likely never be repeated. Their crowning moment? Without doubt accepting the Campbell Bowl in Winnipeg as Western Conference Champions last spring. What a moment it was.

Photo Credit: By 5of7 [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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