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Pacific Division reset

Sharks, Oilers, Ducks vying for first place

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / Staff Writer looks at how each team shapes up entering the stretch run in the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The NHL All-Star break has come and gone and the 10-week sprint to the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins Tuesday.

Few of the League's 30 teams have pulled far enough away from the pack to be looking ahead to the postseason or dropped far enough below it that they're out of contention. There are 18 teams within nine points of one another; it's likely that no more than six of them will make the playoffs.

Here's a look at how the seven teams in the Pacific Division shape up entering the race for the postseason:


(31-17-2, 64 points, 1st in division, 3rd in Western Conference)

Remaining games: 32 (16 home, 16 away)

Special teams: power play: 16.6 percent (22nd); penalty kill: 82.2 percent (14th)

What's gone right: The Sharks had six wins in their final seven games before the All-Star break. Defenseman Brent Burns has 51 points (21 goals, 30 assists), fourth-most in the NHL. Forward Patrick Marleau has five goals in the past three games, including four in the third period of a 5-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Jan. 23, after scoring 12 goals in his first 47 games. Goalie Martin Jones is fourth in the League in wins (25) and second in games started (42).

What's gone wrong: Joe Thornton, 37, has scored three goals (each into an empty net) and has 31 points, a big step back from his 19 goals and 82 points last season. The Sharks expected more from forward Mikkel Boedker (six goals, 17 points) after signing him to a four-year contract July 1. Forward Joonas Donskoi, effective during San Jose's run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, with six goals and 12 points in 24 playoff games, has scored six goals in 44 games. San Jose's power play is down from third in the League (22.5 percent) last season and is 19-for-128 (14.8 percent) since Nov. 1.

Needs: Jones started a combined 89 games through the regular season and playoffs last season, and has again carried a heavy workload entering the break. The Sharks have seven sets of back-to-back games remaining, meaning that either backup Aaron Dell must see more playing time or they'll have to make a move prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on March 1. San Jose acquired goalie James Reimer to back up Jones in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 27, but he signed as a free agent with the Florida Panthers on July 1.

Trophy hopefuls: Burns (Hart, Norris, Art Ross)

Schedule: San Jose plays seven of 11 games away from SAP Center in February, including a four-game East Coast trip Feb. 7-12. Its final five regular-season games are against division opponents, including the last three at home.

Outlook: Center Tomas Hertl's return after missing 31 games because of a sprained right knee should boost the Sharks' 17th-ranked offense (2.66 goals per game). Last January, San Jose began to peak, finishing 28-12-4 on the way to the Stanley Cup Final. With the Sharks' game already at a high level this season, they have a good chance of dethroning the Anaheim Ducks and holding off the Edmonton Oilers for the top spot in the Pacific.

Video: Pacific Division review at halfway point of season


(28-15-8, 64 points, 2nd in division, 4th in Western Conference)

Remaining games: 31 (17 home, 14 away)

Special teams: power play: 21.0 percent (11th); penalty kill: 82.1 percent (15th)

What's gone right: Led by captain Connor McDavid, the Oilers have gone 7-0-1 in their past eight games, including a 4-1 win at San Jose on Thursday. They have 15 road wins, tied for second in the NHL behind the New York Rangers (17), and in are position to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2006. McDavid's 59 points (17 goals, 42 assists) lead the League, and he's been helped by a supporting cast that has Edmonton eighth in the NHL in scoring (2.92 goals per game). McDavid's playmaking skills have benefited his linemates: Leon Draisaitl's 19 goals lead the Oilers, and Patrick Maroon already has an NHL career-high 18. The addition of defensemen Adam Larsson and Kris Russell has solidified an area of weakness. Goalie Cam Talbot ranks third in the NHL with 26 wins and first in games played (45), minutes played (2,708:43), and saves (1,243).

What's gone wrong: Forward Jordan Eberle has three goals and three assists in his past six games after going 18 straight games without a goal, the longest drought of his NHL career. He has 11 goals this season after scoring at least 24 in each of the past three. Goalie Jonas Gustavsson was signed to a one-year contract July 1 to back up Talbot but was placed on waivers Jan. 9 after going 1-3-1 with a 3.10 goals-against average and .878 save percentage.

Needs: Rookie goalie Laurent Brossoit is No. 2 on the depth chart; however, he's appeared in one game, so expect the Oilers to shop for a veteran backup prior to the trade deadline. Another scorer for the third line and a right-handed defenseman for the power play also would help.

Trophy hopefuls: McDavid (Hart, Art Ross)

Schedule: Nine games on the road, where the Oilers are 15-7-5, await them in February, but they also are on a five-day break Feb. 6-10 and play 11 games at Rogers Place in March, including an eight-game homestand from March 4-20. Edmonton's final seven games are against division opponents, including a season-ending home-and-home set with the Vancouver Canucks on April 8-9.

Outlook: The Oilers are legitimate playoff contenders, though how far this young team will advance remains to be seen. If they can fortify their power play and bottom six, and if Eberle can get back on track, they'll be in good shape.

Video: EDM@CGY: McDavid dekes, nets beauty to pad lead


(27-15-9, 63 points, 3rd in division, 5th in Western Conference)

Remaining games: 31 (16 home, 15 away)

Special teams: power play: 21.7 percent (8th); penalty kill: 83.4 percent (7th)

What's gone right: The Ducks have a chance to win the division for the fifth consecutive season after earning at least a point in 14 of their final 17 games (10-3-4). Emerging forward Rickard Rakell leads Anaheim with 20 goals, including four in his past eight games, despite missing the first nine games of the season recovering from corrective gastric surgery in September. Forward Ryan Kesler (18 goals, 39 points) leads the Ducks in scoring and could reach 60 points for the first time since 2010-11, when he had 73. John Gibson, in his first season as a full-time starting goalie, has 19 wins and a .919 save percentage. Forward Jakob Silfverberg (13 goals, 29 points) is on pace to surpass his NHL career highs in each category; he had 20 goals and 39 points last season. However, Silfverberg is working his way back from an upper-body injury that kept him out for the final three games before the break.

What's gone wrong: Forward Corey Perry, who has scored more than 30 goals in six NHL seasons, including 50 in 2010-11, has nine goals in 51 games. Defenseman Sami Vatanen has two goals and 17 points in 47 games, and was a healthy scratch Jan. 23 after he was minus-4 in a 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 21.

Needs: More production from the bottom six. The Ducks would like to add a forward and/or a depth defenseman prior to the trade deadline, but they face salary-cap issues.

Trophy hopefuls: None

Schedule: The Ducks resume their season with a home game against the Avalanche, who are last in the NHL standings, before a six-game road trip that includes three top-tier opponents: the New York Rangers, Washington Capitals and Wild. Five of Anaheim's final seven games are against division opponents.

Outlook: Though Perry is underachieving and Ryan Getzlaf has seven goals, the latter recently had a six-game point streak and has nine points (three goals, six assists) since Dec. 30. That's good news for the Ducks, who are 20th in scoring (2.57 goals per game).

Video: ANA@WPG: Getzlaf tips in Theodore's shot for a PPG


(25-24-3, 53 points, 4th in division, 8th in Western Conference)

Remaining games: 30 (15 home, 15 away)

Special teams: power play: 20.3 percent (14th); penalty kill: 80.9 percent (18th)

What's gone right: Center Mikael Backlund leads the Flames with 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists). His left wing, Matthew Tkachuk, has 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists) and owns the longest point streak by an NHL rookie this season (nine games). Chad Johnson (16-12-1, 2.50 GAA, .913 save percentage, three shutouts) may have usurped Brian Elliott as Calgary's No. 1 goalie. Dougie Hamilton leads Flames defensemen in goals (seven), assists (25) and points (32, second on Calgary behind Backlund) playing on the top pair with captain Mark Giordano (six goals, 22 points).

What's gone wrong: The Flames acquired Elliott in a trade with the St. Louis Blues on June 25 to solve their lingering goaltending problem. Instead, Elliott is 9-12-2 with a 2.88 GAA and .892 save percentage. All-star forward Johnny Gaudreau broke an 11-game goal drought, during which he was minus-7, with an overtime goal to defeat the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 26. TJ Brodie was 18th among NHL defensemen in scoring last season (45 points). This season, he has 17 points, is last on the Flames at minus-22, and has been dropped from the top pair. Calgary allowed the first goal in nine straight games before ending a stretch of 269:39 without a lead at Ottawa.

Needs: A second-pair defenseman to ease the workload of Brodie and Dennis Wideman. Though Johnson has been a nice surprise, the Flames need Elliott to play like the goaltender who led the League with a .930 save percentage last season.

Trophy hopefuls: None

Schedule: The Flames go to the East Coast for three games Feb. 3-7 and are away for five more from Feb. 18-26. They play the Los Angeles Kings, Sharks and Ducks their final six games, with a game at home and a game on the road against each.

Outlook: The win at Ottawa ended a four-game losing streak in which they were outscored 20-7 and were called out by coach Glen Gulutzan after a 5-1 loss at the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 24. They lead the Kings and Vancouver Canucks by one point for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference, but the Kings (three) and Canucks (two) each have games in hand. The Flames need more production from Gaudreau and solid goaltending to qualify for the playoffs for the second time since 2008-09.

Video: CGY@OTT: Monahan nets gorgeous through-the-legs tally


(24-21-4, 52 points, 5th in division, 9th in Western Conference)

Remaining games: 33 (18 home, 15 away)

Special teams: power play: 17.0 percent (21st); penalty kill: 82.8 percent (11th)

What's gone right: Goalie Jonathan Quick's groin injury in the season opener could have doomed the Kings, but they remain in playoff contention thanks to 34-year-old Peter Budaj, who is 22-14-3 with a 2.06 GAA, a .919 save percentage and five shutouts since being recalled from Ontario of the American Hockey League. Forward Jeff Carter's 24 goals are tied for second in the League. Defenseman Drew Doughty (eight goals, 28 points, plus-10) is second in the League in average time on ice (27:15).

What's gone wrong: Carter and linemate Tanner Pearson (15) are the only players who've reached double figures in goals. Despite being second in the NHL in shot attempts differential (plus-378), Los Angeles is averaging 2.49 goals per game (22nd) and is 3-18-3 when scoring two or fewer goals. The Kings need more from forwards Anze Kopitar (five goals, 27 points), Dustin Brown (six goals, 21 points, minus-10) and Marian Gaborik (five goals, 11 points in 27 games since returning from a foot injury).

Needs: Forward Tyler Toffoli, out since Dec. 20 because of a lower-body injury, has been skating, and reuniting him with Carter and Pearson on "That '70s Line" will help, but the Kings are in the market for more offense. With 43 points, Carter has 15 more than Doughty, who is second on Los Angeles in scoring.

Trophy hopefuls: Carter (Richard), Doughty (Norris)

Schedule: The Kings play the last of five consecutive games away from home at the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 31, are home for one game, and leave again for four in a row on the East Coast. They play their first seven games in March at home. Six of their next eight games are against teams not currently holding a playoff berth, and playing four of the final five games at Staples Center could help their postseason chances.

Outlook: Though Toffoli could return shortly after the break, Quick isn't expected back until March at the earliest, according to Consistency will be vital for the Kings, who haven't won three straight since a five-game winning streak Nov. 17-26.

Video: LAK@CAR: Gaborik dekes and scores to open scoring


(23-21-6, 52 points, 6th in division, 10th in Western Conference)

Remaining games: 32 (15 home, 17 away)

Special teams: power play: 14.1 percent (29th); penalty kill: 79.8 percent (22nd)

What's gone right: Despite an aging roster, the Canucks are one point out of the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference because one of their young players has blossomed into an all-star. Forward Bo Horvat leads the Canucks in goals (14) and is tied for the scoring lead with Henrik Sedin (32 points). Secondary scoring options Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund have also emerged. Coach Willie Desjardins deserves credit for helping the Canucks overcome a nine-game losing streak (Oct. 22-Nov. 7) by going 19-13-5 in their next 37 games, including 9-3-3 since the Christmas break.

What's gone wrong: Vancouver is 26th in scoring (2.30 goals per game) and didn't have a shot on goal until 26:06 into a 3-0 loss at Arizona on Thursday. The Canucks are 6-15-3 on the road, where they've yet to win two straight and have been outscored 75-52. Two marquee offseason acquisitions have struggled. Forward Loui Eriksson, who signed a six-year, $36 million contract July 1, has 10 goals and is minus-6 in 50 games. Defenseman Erik Gudbranson, acquired in a trade with the Panthers on May 26, was minus-14 before having wrist surgery in December.

Needs: Acquiring a scoring wing has been general manager Jim Benning's objective since the beginning of the season even after signing Eriksson. The Canucks also could add future assets to surround Horvat and Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin.

Trophy hopefuls: None

Schedule: A 12-game stretch leading into the trade deadline during which the Canucks play 10 teams in playoff position should determine whether they'll be buyers or sellers.

Outlook: The fact that the Canucks have a chance to make the playoffs is a testament to Desjardins and the maturation of some of their young players. But even if they make the playoffs, their run could end in the Western Conference First Round.

Video: FLA@VAN: H. Sedin finishes feed for his 1,000th point


(16-26-6, 38 points, 7th in division, 13th in Western Conference)

Remaining games: 34 (17 home, 17 away)

Special teams: power play: 15.3 percent (25th); penalty kill: 77.3 percent (26th)

What's gone right: Goalie Mike Smith made his first NHL All-Star Game in his 11th season at age 34. He's 11-13-5 with a 2.85 GAA and .917 save percentage despite missing a month because of a leg injury. The highlight of his season was making 58 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Dec. 3. Forward Radim Vrbata, signed to a one-year contract Aug. 16, has 11 goals, 23 assists and 34 points, and could become the first player to lead Arizona in all three categories since Shane Doan in 2008-09 (31 goals, 42 assists, 73 points). Forward Alexander Burmistrov has a goal and six points since he was claimed off waivers from the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 2.

What's gone wrong: Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, projected as a Norris Trophy candidate during the preseason, has nine goals, 26 points and a minus-18 rating. Doan, who led the Coyotes with 28 goals last season, has four in 48 games. Forward Anthony Duclair was sent to Tucson of the AHL after he scored three goals and had nine points in 41 games following a 20-goal, 44-point rookie season. The Coyotes have been outscored 151-104; their minus-47 goal differential is next-to-last in the NHL (Avalanche, minus-63).

Video: ARI@WPG: Ekman-Larsson fires PPG in off faceoff win

Needs: To build for the future and collect more young talent. First-year GM John Chayka figures to make some of his veterans available and will be looking for draft picks and prospects in return.

Trophy hopefuls: None

Schedule: Arizona returns from the break with four of five games at Gila River Arena, where it has won five of its past six. The Coyotes could play spoiler during their final eight games against the St. Louis Blues (twice), Washington Capitals (twice), Kings, Dallas Stars, Canucks and Wild.

Outlook: The Coyotes won't be in the playoffs, but they reached the All-Star break on their first three-game winning streak of the season. They're also hoping to get second-year forward Max Domi back from a broken hand within two weeks. Doan, Vrbata, Martin Hanzal, Michael Stone and (perhaps) Duclair could be trade chips before the deadline.

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