In an interesting turn of events, this edition of the Weekly Lost & Found has us sticking to the Western Conference, with stops in the midwest and Canada. Two heated, bitter geographic and Pacific Division rivals find themselves on the same playing field. Meanwhile, two Central Division foes have combined for 16 wins in 20 games over their respective past 10 games.
It will be interesting to see how certain question marks may be answered or already thriving teams complemented as the trade deadline nears, and the games increase in importance. Weekly Lost & Found, 13th edition, let’s go.
Lost: Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers Losses Are Piling Up
Flames Have Cooled off After Hot Start to Season
After a solid start to the season and an appearance on the good side of the third Weekly Lost & Found edition, the Flames look to be coming back down to earth. They have just three wins in their last 10 games and won one of four games this past week. They finish the week on a three-game losing streak.
They’ve allowed the fifth-least goals in the NHL, but over their three losses this week, they allowed 16 while scoring just six. Their lone win this past week, defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1, could have a bit of an asterisk next to it. The Hawks’ 3.40 goals-against per game is seventh-most in the league.
Goaltending has been a bright spot. Both Jacob Markstrom and Daniel Vladar are having strong seasons but struggled this past week, splitting the four starts. Despite this recent slide, the offense has been relatively potent. Four players have at least 12 goals and 21 points.
A source of comfort throughout their season has been special teams. Their power play sits at 21.4%, and their penalty kill is in the top-10 at 83.7%. Despite slowing down from their six-game winning streak early on, special teams performances like that and their strong goaltending should help them right the ship.
This team should be fine and shouldn’t worry too much about this slide yet. It helps that they’re tied with the Seattle Kraken for the fewest games played in their division with 33, so they may have an advantage down the stretch depending on scheduling. Due to COVID-19 postponements, they’ll have a lone game against the Ottawa Senators this upcoming week.
Oilers Still Reeling, Need To Turn Things Around ASAP
The Oilers last saw themselves in the ninth edition amid a five-game losing streak. Now, it’s roughly a month later, and the Oilers have yet to figure things out. This past week, they were winless in both games, conceding eight goals while scoring just three. They’re now 2-6-2 in their past 10 games.
What to say, what to say. They can’t rely on Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and their top-ranked power play to take them to the “promised land.” Currently, McDavid is on COVID protocol, and while no one can realistically make up for that loss, this depth-lacking team gets all the more shallow.
To make matters worse, they’re handcuffed by having almost no salary cap flexibility to bring players in without moving players out. Up front, new free agent Evander Kane is someone they could attempt to bring in. However, goaltending is arguably what they need first and foremost. They’ve allowed 111 goals in 34 games this season. That’s 3.26 per game.
COVID has been hitting them pretty hard of late, and they’ll only play one of their four scheduled games this week. They’ll take on that pesky Senators team, who would love to come into Edmonton and keep the Oilers on the wrong track.
Found: Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues Bolster Divisional Positions
Avalanche Offense Paved the Path for Recent Success
Alright, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen the Cale Makar goal. Just in case your rock doesn’t get the right channel, we’re starting this section off with another look at it. It’s just that nasty.
Now that we’ve taken care of that piece of business, the Avalanche are rolling. They’ve won four straight, which was every game this past week. They scored 20 goals in those games while allowing 10. On the season, their 134 goals in 31 games make for a league-best 4.32 goals-for per game. Despite having a top-10 power play, their penalty kill is a caveat as it’s one of the worst in the league at 73.1%.
The goaltending hasn’t been spectacular, but good enough given the offensive firepower supporting it. Darcy Kuemper has seen most of the workload and has a 2.77 goals-against average (GAA) and a .908 save percentage (SV%). Their stars have been doing their jobs and leading the way, and the depth they do have has been sufficient to this point.
The team has the offensive ability; they just need to figure out their penalty kill and limit the goals against to keep climbing in their division. They haven’t recorded a shutout all year. They’re four points out of first place in the Central with five games in hand, so they shouldn’t have much to worry about right now.
They’ll be doing a lot of flying this week as they have four games on the docket. Home against Seattle, then traveling to Nashville will be a good test against their divisional leader. They’ll finish the week with a home-and-home against the Arizona Coyotes.
Blues Clicking as They Eye First in the Central Division
Like our Avalanche section, we don’t want to bury the lede here. The Blues trailed in the final minutes on Sunday, Jan. 9, against the Dallas Stars… it’s a lot more fun to watch than read, so let’s take a look.
They went 2-1 this past week, winning two in a row, and are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. In those three games, they scored 10 goals while allowing seven, though five goals-against came from their loss against a Pittsburgh Penguins team that has been on a tear of late.
The team’s offense has been on full display as their 126 goals are fourth in the NHL, and they have five double-digit goal scorers. Their power play and penalty kill are among the best in the league, and they’ve utilized five different goaltenders; four have recorded wins.
Jordan Binnington carries most of the workload, with Ville Husso as the backup. Binnington holds a 2.90 GAA and a .910 SV% in 21 games, while Husso has better numbers in far fewer games. In eight games, he has a 2.28 GAA and .931 SV%. They both have a shutout.
The Blues will be facing two different extremes this week. On one end of the scale, you have the massively struggling Seattle Kraken before facing the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both games will be in St. Louis, where the Blues have a 14-3-2 record.
Heading into this season, the Pacific Division looked like it would be the lesser competitive of the two discussed, but that’s just not the case. The two Albertan teams have a lot more to worry about in the immediate future than their counterparts in the Central. If they don’t correct it soon, the THW staff should have a lot to write about.
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.