NHL Teams Points Average: 46.7
NHL Teams at 50+ points: 9
NHL Teams at 42- points: 8
Pacific Division Strength: Improving but remains in the shadows of Metropolitan
Now competitive with the Atlantic, mostly due to the falling Central division. Metropolitan division has become titanic, with the Rangers holding a ridiculous wild card spot at 57 points. The Canucks are struggling to stay competitive while the Jets seem to be slipping away.
Cup Chances (Points)
Senators (15-9-2, 2nd in Atlantic):
- 12-7 Sharks (Sens 4, Sharks 2)
- 12-10 Kings (Kings 4, Sens 1)
- 12-11 Ducks (Ducks 5, Sens 1)
Hurricanes (10-10-5, 7th in Metropolitan):
- 12-7 Ducks (Ducks 6, Canes 5 in SO)
- 12-8 Kings* (Canes 3, Kings 1)
- 12-10 Sharks (Sharks 4, Canes 3)
Both Ottawa and Carolina look to grab points out in California during the second half of this week starting Wednesday night in San Jose and Anaheim. The Senators are coming off a frustrating 8-5 loss against the Penguins this past Monday. However, except for one more overtime loss, they have a record identical to the Sharks going into trip. Craig Anderson, the Sens’ netminder, was named as the first star of the week last week. The Hurricanes had a rocky start to the season but are slowly working their way into becoming strong competitors this season.
*I will be attending the Kings-Canes game Thursday night in LA with a few buddies. The Kings will be looking to take advantage of a Carolina team in the 2nd of back-to-back games.
The Senators could come out with guns blazing against the Sharks, who have not played since their win against the Canadians 5 days ago. The Ducks are coming off of a hard loss against the Flames and should set the tone against the Hurricanes early tonight if they want a good chance of winning.
Flames 8 – Ducks 3
Ducks lost all control of their slot area today as 8 different Flames players were able to convert shots into goals. Tips in front, open men in the slot, and consistent board battles were the difference in this game. The Flames final goal was a 2 on 0 rush on a penalty kill to add salt to the wound. Ducks were able to tack in a couple goals in the final 4 minutes, but it would not be nearly enough to overcome the Flames flurry of goals in the second (5 in 6 minutes). Gaudreau’s presence was clearly a factor, drawing first blood and playing a role in the first three Calgary goals.
Kesler was the best Ducks player on the ice tonight, scoring twice and perhaps becoming responsible for the Ducks’ positives: face-off percentage and shots on goal. The Ducks will have a couple of days to regroup before facing the Hurricanes at home on Wednesday.
Both Carolina and Ottawa look to find success in the California gauntlet this week.
Ducks 3 – Sharks 2
After a 3 game losing streak, Anaheim needed to take advantage of a SJ team in the 2nd of back-to-back games, and that’s just what they did.
With the Ducks struggling in the last week and with the Kings victory over Chicago, all California teams are within 1 point of each other (SJ/LA at 25 and ANA at 24). This creates a small gap between the upper 4 teams in the Pacific and the bottom 3.
Sharks drew first blood with a shot from the top of the circle by Couture but the Ducks responded with a goal from a strong rushing break to the net by Garbutt. SJ challenged this goal unsuccessfully, costing the Sharks their timeout. Rakell would slice the puck out of the air and redirect it into the Sharks net for the first Ducks lead of the night. DeMelo answered with a slapshot in the second, but Getzlaf would pull the Ducks ahead again with a PPG from the slot. Despite brief end game surges from the Sharks, the Ducks would hang on to a well-deserved, much needed victory.