Not only do we get to talk about the NHL this week, but we get to talk about men’s and women’s Olympic hockey as the tournament is now in the books. With the fluctuating temperatures and flash snow storms on the east coast, it sounds like a good time to head out west.
This week’s edition will focus on three teams in the Pacific Division. Two teams have lost their way but are still in the hunt. One team has finally found their stride, despite still having a few holes to fill. Since we’re in the Pacific, let’s surf on through this one.
Lost: Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks Continue Slides
Ducks’ Recent Play Drops Them Out of a Playoff Spot
Since their appearance in the 12th Weekly Lost & Found, the Ducks have dropped out of a playoff spot, trailing the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card position. They went 1-2 in three games this past week and are now 1-3-1 in their past five.
They have scored 16 goals and allowed 23 over that span. They scored five power-play goals on 15 attempts and one shorthanded goal, meaning that they only scored 10 even-strength goals over those five games. That’s cause for concern.
Despite Trevor Zegras continuing to be exciting with six points in his past five games, the team’s inability to keep the puck out of the net has been the biggest problem. They allowed 4.60 goals-against per game over those five. John Gibson started all of them and struggled mightily.
His .846 save percentage (SV%) is well below his .913 SV% season average, and he even tallied two penalty minutes. It’s a bad sign as the Ducks didn’t give up many shots, having averaged 27.2 shots-against per game. Gibson is still seeing most of the workload, so it’ll be interesting to see if they give backup Anthony Stolarz a nod.
Their power play went 33%, and their penalty killing went 73% these past five games. The power play was about what you’d expect, considering they’re one of the top power-play teams in the NHL, while the penalty kill was a bit below their season average.
They have three games this week, two against divisional rivals, and all at home. It’ll be a key week for them in their pursuit of a playoff spot, especially since they’ll be facing the Kings at home.
Sharks Fall Further From Wild Card With Just Two Wins in Past 10
Despite starting the season on a high note, the Sharks have come back down to earth and sit seventh in the Pacific Division and five spots back from a wild card spot. They’ve won just two of their past 10 games. To specify, they’ve been winless in their past six, having last won on Jan. 26.
They have a minus-10 goal differential in their past 10 games, having scored 25 goals and allowed 35. It’s hard to fully blame goaltending in this situation since they’re giving up an average of 33.6 shots-against per game.
This team is extremely offensively thin. They only have seven players with at least 20 points and only four with at least 31. Timo Meier leads the way with 23 goals and 50 points in 44 games, while Tomas Hertl has scored 22 goals and 40 points in 49 games despite the trade rumors swirling. It’s a relatively steep fall off after that.
One bright spot this year has been the team’s penalty kill. They’re a top-five team in the NHL, as was seen over these past 10 games as they’ve killed off 93.1%. However, their power play leaves a bit more to be desired on the year, despite performing well of late.
The Sharks will have four matchups this week and three at home. They’re falling towards the category of teams that’ll likely be playing spoiler by the time spring rolls around. However, they are just 10 points back from a wild card spot, so nothing is officially out of the question.
Found: Edmonton Oilers Find Success With New Coach, Finland & Canada Win Gold at Olympics
Oilers Off to a Strong Start With Rookie NHL Head Coach Woodcroft
This season has been a rollercoaster for the Oilers. They started the season 16-5-0 and then found themselves on a dismal 2-11-2 run from early December through mid-January. It culminated in the team’s brass signing the controversial Evander Kane, an effort that’s helping them rediscover their identity, firing Dave Tippett and promoting Jay Woodcroft.
The team responded by winning five of the first six games Woodcroft spent behind the bench. They have a plus-10 goal differential over that span, having scored 25 goals and allowed 15, though seven of those came from a loss to the Minnesota Wild.
While they’ve been seeing better goaltending recently, they definitely still need to go to the trade market to find some consistency. Being that Mikko Koskinen is a pending unrestricted free agent (UFA), they may look to move him. He does have a 15-team no-trade list as part of his modified-no trade clause, so it limits their options.
Kane is already off to a strong start. He’s scored five goals and nine points in 11 games. With 12 penalty minutes, he’s officially tallied 1,000 for his career. In other, unsurprising offensive news, Connor McDavid leads the way with 10 points in his past six games.
The Oilers hold onto third in the Pacific Division due to tiebreakers, as the Kings also hold 59 points and sit in the second wild card spot, having won two fewer games. The Ducks are nipping at their heels, too, with 57 points.
They’ll face the toughest test of Woodcroft’s young tenure this week as they travel to the east coast to face the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, and Carolina Hurricanes.
Finland’s Men, Canada’s Women Take Home Gold Medals
The 2022 Olympic Games have concluded. In men’s hockey, Team Finland has captured its first hockey gold medal, defeating the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) 2-1. Slovakia shut out Sweden to take bronze. On the women’s side, Canada took home the gold, beating Team USA 3-2, and Finland shutout Switzerland 4-0 to win bronze.
Juraj Slafkovsky, one of the top prospects ahead of this year’s entry draft, shined brightest as he was named men’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) after scoring seven goals in seven games. Team Canada was shut out by Sweden, and the United States fell to Slovakia in the Quarterfinals on the path to Slovakia’s first Olympic hockey medal.
Finish goaltender Harri Sateri won all five games he played and allowed just five goals, two at even-strength. He held a .961 SV%. Slovakian Patrik Rybar led all Olympic goalies who played more than one game with a .70 goals-against average (GAA) and .966 SV% in six games.
The Canadian women took home their fifth gold medal in the seventh Olympic women’s hockey tournament and fourth against the United States. Canadian Brianne Jenner won MVP honors in her third Olympic Games, scoring nine goals and 14 points in seven games. Eight of the top-10 scorers in the tournament were Canadian.
Canadian goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens led the tournament winning all five games she played. She only allowed nine goals in those five games, which gave her a 1.80 GAA and held a .940 SV%. American Alex Cavallini led all goaltenders who played at least three games with a 1.27 GAA, and Kimberly Newell, a Canadian playing on Team China, led with a .955 SV%.
A lot is going on in the Pacific these days. On top of what’s going on with these three teams, Calgary welcomed Mark Giordano back, and Jack Eichel made his season debut for Vegas and subsequently scored his first goal in his third game back. For all of that and more, be sure to stick with The Hockey Writers all season long.
Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.