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Pacific Division Power Rankings #8
The Final Countdown Edition
3/27/16 - By Ryan Hall -

I'll give you a moment to let the chorus from the 1986 Europe hit play through your head before continuing.

There. You ready now?

As the NHL season begins to wind down most of the teams are entering their own final countdowns. For some it's the number of games left until the post season starts. For others it's the magic number to clinch their own spot in the playoff dance. While for the rest it's simply a tally of how many times they need to hit the ice before a long summer vacation.

In the Pacific Division it's crystal clear who is going to make the second season, but there are still important countdowns taking place. So, as we count up the squads by their performance, we'll also be counting down and taking a look at the numbers that matter to each team.

#1 Los Angeles Kings (7)

With 10 games remaining in their schedule (as of this writing), the Kings hold a 3 point advantage over the Ducks, and a 5 point edge over the Sharks. While they are sitting pretty for the division crown, it'll probably take 7 more victories for them to clinch the Pacific - including beating San Jose on March 28 and Anaheim on… yup… April 7. Do that, and it'll be champagne time in LA.

LAST RANKING: 1

#2 San Jose Sharks (6)

Call me a homer, but I'm giving the Sharks the edge over Anaheim based on quality of play lately. Also, the Sharks have 6 home contests left in which to prove that they've figured how to play in front of their own crowd. Any hope of an extended playoff run will require San Jose to hold serve when on home ice, so consider these half dozen games a preview of what's likely to come in late April and May.

LAST RANKING: 3

#3 Anaheim Ducks (5)

Five… as in double five (55) points for team leader Ryan Getzlaf. After a horrible start to the season the Anaheim captain has come on strong lately to pull ahead of linemate Corey Perry on the stats page. However, this total ranks dead last among playoff bound Pacific teams, and shows just how woeful Anaheim's offense has been for most of the season. Those totals will need to continue to climb steadily if the Ducks plan on sticking around the post-season for very long.

LAST RANKING: 2

#4 Edmonton Oilers (4)

Yup, the Oilers are up to #4 in the ole Power Rankings based on their above average play over the past 10 games; and also based on the atrocious performances of the rest of the Pacific bottom feeders. Question my reasoning if you want, however you can't question the abilities of offensive leader Taylor Hall who happens to wear jersey #4. Heading into the offseason though, the Oilers will be worried about another 4 - as in which four of these six players do they keep and who should be moved: Hall, Jordan Eberle, Leon Draisaitl, Nail Yakupov, Connor McDavid, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The decision they reach will shape the future of hockey in Edmonton for the next decade. No pressure.

LAST RANKING: 7

#5 Calgary Flames (3) The Flames are building towards the future, and to that end they have to consider this another good development year. Sure, they didn't qualify for the post-season, which on the surface appears to be a step backwards. However, Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Sam Bennett have all emerged as foundational talents that the club can build around. The hard part now will be finding cost-effective role players, and this summer 3 crucial pieces of that puzzle hit RFA status: Mikael Backlund, Lance Bouma, and Paul Byron. Determining how much to pay them, and for how long, will set a precedent that will either empower, or handicap, the franchise moving forward.

LAST RANKING: 6

#6 Vancouver Canucks (2)

That sudden sense of hopelessness that you feel is the collective angst of the Canucks fanbase after management failed to trade two of the clubs UFA chips at the deadline (Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis). As if that wasn't bad enough, it's starting to become quite clear that the only way Vancouver can effectively rebuild this team is by moving out 2 additional players: Henrik and Daniel Sedin. While sentimentality says you can't get rid of your heart and soul, the stark reality is that the Sedin's are slowing down and simply aren't the kind of players to lead a rebuild. That's enough to make any fanbase mopey.

LAST RANKING: 5

#7 Arizona Coyotes (1)

There's so many different ways to take this. The Coyotes are fighting for the #1 overall pick in the upcoming Entry Draft. With no lease between IceArizona and Gila River Arena the Desert Dogs may be entering their last season in Glendale. Only 1 player has hit the 20 goal plateau on the team (Shane Doan), and only 1 player will likely break 50 points (Oliver Ekman-Larsson). They might not even have a single goalie hit the 15 win mark this season. I'll stop now.

LAST RANKING: 4


Contact Ryan at at ryanhall@letsgosharks.com




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