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:
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)
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.