The Pacific Triangle

You-Cant-Get-There-from-Here

What a week in the wacky Pacific Division.

The Los Angeles Kings are pulling away from the pack and have a 9 point lead on everyone with 2 games in hand on most teams. The Kings have won 6 in a row and can put a division championship to bed by the end of December with a schedule that features 5 straight games against their dubious competition between Dec. 22 and 31.

Dec 22 – vs. Sharks

Dec 26 – @ Coyotes

Dec 28 – @ Canucks

Dec 29 – @ Oilers

Dec 31 – @ Flames

Between now and the 22, they play the Sabres, the Canadiens, the Senators and the Leafs so, even if they play 8 of their next 9 on the road, they have a superb chance to put things to bed especially since they sport an 8-3-1 road record. They already have a 99.3% chance of making the playoffs according to Sports Club Stats so I can’t see them faltering.

Behind the Kings, things are getting very interesting as every team has lost more games than they’ve won.

Baseball Standings Dec 11/15

San Jose – .512

Vancouver – .500

Arizona – .500

Edmonton – .466

Anaheim – .465

Calgary – .464

In other words, it’s pretty much a dead heat between 6 teams vying for the two remaining playoff spots in the Western Conference if you concede that 5 Central Division teams will make the playoffs.

Interestingly enough, EVERY Pacific Division team except Arizona is heading out on a road trip this week so how they fare on the road could be a great measuring stick for their longer term chances.

Pacific Division Road Records:

LAK  8-3-1

SJS  10-5-1

VCR  6-5-5

ARZ  7-10-1

EDM  4-10-1

ANA 3-8-1

CAL 3-9-2

Worth noting that  7 of the Coyotes remaining 8 games in December are  at home and the Coyotes have a 7-4-0 record in Glendale.

If they can continue that pace, they should be able to put some space between them and the rest of these dogs by the end of the month.

Another oddity is the Home/Road record of the Sharks. While going 10-5-1 on the road, they just don’t win much at home (4-8-0) so they may keep pace with the Coyotes on their upcoming roadie.

Vancouver is in a very tough spot after losing Dan Hamhuis for a couple of months to a facial injury, leaving them with even fewer bonafide NHL defensemen. This road trip could well spell the end of any playoff glimmers the Canucks may still harbour and they may become sellers as soon as the Christmas trade freeze ends in early January.

The Edmonton Oilers start a 4 game road trip in Boston Monday night before heading to NYR, Chicago and Colorado.

Their current 5 game win streak is almost exclusively because of the play of Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl so we’ll see how that goes on the road when opposition coaches can choose their match ups.

Worth noting, Taylor Hall is scoring 1.6 PPG at home but only .667 on the road.

(For those keeping score…Tyler Seguin is 1.36 PPG at home and 1.40 PPG on the road)

Hmmmm….

After a game at home tonight against the Rangers, the Calgary Flames depart for a trip through the Death Valley Division ® with games against Nashville, Dallas and St. Louis with Detroit as a chaser. There’s little reason to believe they’ll improve much on their road record although Mark Giordano has been much better lately and their goaltending is improving.

The Anaheim Ducks need to fire their coach in the worst way as they inexplicably can’t score and likely need a new voice that will at least prepare them to show up at the opening face off.

By way of illustration…the Ducks have scored 56 goals this season…Dallas has scored 102…yikes.

So, other than Arizona likely to separate themselves from the pack this week and San Jose having a couple of games in hand on most teams, I expect will see much of the same mess a week from now.

Gary’s parity is working but it sure ain’t pretty.

 

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9 thoughts on “The Pacific Triangle

  1. Agreed, Taylor Hall’s season, especially without Connor in the line-up has been stellar. It appears we’re starting to see Taylor reach his full potential and it will be interesting to see just how good he becomes. What’s your prediction on where Taylor ends the year for Point per Game? Is this a top 5 scoring player in the NHL? Top 3?

    And When Connor comes back how do you see the Oilers lining up and who do you see (Connor or Taylor) drawing the top defence opposition from opposing coaches?

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    1. He may not even finish top 10 since, as I pointed out in today’s post, he’s pretty average on the road.

      And there are a lot of talented players right behind him with games in hand.

      I expect you’ll see pairs when McDavid returns.

      Hall-Driasaitl

      Nuge-Eberle

      McDavid-Yakupov

      Nuge gets the toughs at home…Hall gets the toughs on the road.

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      1. I know we keep going back and forth on this but I’m going to bring it up again.

        The Oilers particularly Hall – Dry Saddle and to a certain extent Purcell have started to face toughs at home as well.

        Drai carried Thorton around on his back all night, kid has strength.

        To me what’s remarkable in all this is Hall & Drai seem to be getting better every game, teams can key on this group right now because the Oilers truly only have one line that’s consistently scoring.

        But take into consideration that Pouliot is out, set to return soon, McDavid is out, but set to return soon, Yakupov is out set to return soon.

        Teams won’t be able to T-up on Hall on the road soon, put McDavid out for extreme OZ starts, RNH line gets the heavys and blend Halls line.

        I do get that the Oilers have trouble on the road, I get that this teams not a playoff team yet but from a guy who wanted Seguin, I got to tell you watching this kid live reminds me a lot of Messier at the beginning (not comparing) a bit reckless, a bit of a cheater, passion and will make plays that are crazy good.

        Anyways, convince me I’m seeing something I’m not!

        Last, I did not see the Ducks shitting the bed this year! Horcoff curse!

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  2. PPG not total points. What is your prediction? Top 10 would be an extremely valuble player, and at current pace top 5 is a possibility. And he’s done it with a rookie center and teddy on the other wing. And the jam and leadership he’s shown this year. Did you see the poke at chara and face wash to kane? It’s time to man up my friend and give credit when it’s do. A stubborn man is a foolish man.

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  3. I dont think a .667 on the road is a struggle. I think its evidence the Oilers have gone without a second line for awhile now. When the second line comes back, there’s going to be some real match up problems for other coaches on the road. Completely agree that when healthy, Nuge gets the heavy lifting whenever TMac can give it to him and Hall gets the work load when its up to the other bench. I’m more interested in how Eberle and Yak fit into all of this. I’m not convinced that Yak will be gifted McDavid until they see him with Eberle.

    Are we seeing a regress in Dallas? Seguin and Benn have one point between them in the last three road games. It was a bit unsustainable maybe?

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    1. I’m not sure that you can draw many conclusions from 3 games.

      I watched most of the Stars/Blues game last night and the Blues played very well with one of the most ferocious forechecks (Hitchcock hockey) and still Benn had 6 SOG and Seguin had 3 SOG.

      Despite taking a few stupid penalties in the 1st period…the Stars outshot the Blues 22-9 in the final 2 periods.

      Juts looks like (bad) puck luck to me.

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