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Pacific Division Power Rankings
Mid-Season MVP's Edition
1/26/14 - By Ryan Hall -

With the dawn of 2014 the teams of the Pacific division have all reached the midway point of the campaign, and the sample size has finally grown large enough to show the true colours of not only the squads, but the players on each roster. While there have definitely been underachievers (see Brown, Dustin from LA), others like have pleasantly surprised; and it's that unpredictability that makes the NHL such captivating theater. In the rankings below some of the principal actors on the frozen stage will be profiled as the shining stars of their respective clubs to this point.

#1 - Anaheim Ducks (Ryan Getzlaf)

Once again the Ducks find themselves at the top of the Pacific heap as they continue to ride a wave of success and unblemished home play. While there are several players that are responsible for Anaheim's strong season, no one has meant more to the club than Getzlaf, who sits third in the league in scoring and is clipping along at a career best pace in most statistical categories. Perhaps the most shocking stat in Getzlaf's season though is the paltry 15 PIM's that he's accumulated so far, and this discipline has allowed him to spend nearly every important moment of each game on the ice! If he keeps that up for the rest of the season Getzlaf, and the rest of the Ducks, will remain near the top of the NHL heap.

Last Ranking: 1

#2 - San Jose Sharks (Joe Thornton)

Breathing down the necks of the Ducks, San Jose has managed to keep the heat on thanks to a balanced scoring attack that has seen players throughout the lineup chip in points (most recently Bracken Kearns). However, at the very center of this success is Jumbo Joe, who is quietly turning in a renaissance season by leading the NHL is assists, and scoring at greater than a point-per-game pace! Additionally, Thornton has done this while helping Tomad Hertl transition to the NHL, and easing Brent Burns metamorphosis into a gritty power forward. The greatest side effect of reemergence of #19 though has been freeing up Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski from others teams top checkers, and allowing them to provide legitimate secondary scoring threats.

Last Ranking: 4

#3 - Vancouver Canucks (Roberto Luongo/Eddie Lack)

When the season began the Canucks looked like a team that was frantically trying to find anew identity after years of run and gun hockey under former coach Alan Vigneault. This search resulted in times when the offense wasn't scoring, moments when the defensive coverage was lost, and still uglier moments when both went missing at the same time. In the midst of that maelstrom though a calm aura could always be found between the pipes where Luongo and Lack went about the business of keeping Vancouer solvent and within striking range of the pack by posting the 4th best GAA (a combined 2.29) and 3rd highest shutout totals (5) in the league. Now, the rest of the team is beginning to round into shape and what is emerging in Van City is a dangerous squad capable of beating anyone at any time; and which is still backboned by the goaltending.

Last Ranking: 2

#4 Los Angeles Kings (Martin Jones)

Who is that masked man?! That's the question that has been going through the minds of NHL shooter for the better part of a month as Martin Jones has not only burst upon the scene in LA, but become a big part of the Kings recent success. After all, when Jonathan Quick went down with a groin strain in November, the LA's fortunes appeared rest solely on surviving with Toronto castoff Ben Scrivens for the foreseeable future. However, merely surviving turned into thriving once Jones took the crease posting an 8 straight wins to start his career, and recording 3 shutouts to go with his .955 save percentage. While there's no guarantees that Martin Jones will continue to be a star, for the moment he's the MVP of this squad, and perhaps the shoo in Calder Trophy winner as well.

Last Ranking: 3

#5 Phoenix Coyotes (Oliver Ekman-Larsson)

The Coyotes are firmly entrenched in the 5 spot in the Pacific, though they also don't look like a legitimate contender to move up any higher either. If they do find a way to make a move towards the post-season though, it will be fueled by the rock solid play of Ekman-Larsson, the 23 year old superstar that has only begun to tap his potential. Not only does he routinely play against other teams top lines, he has done so while posting a +6 rating; quite a feat on a team that is itself dead even in Goals For and Goals Against. Lastly, while Keith Yandle gets all the press for his offensive game, Ekman-Larsson quietly has put up 22 points himself - good for 18th in the league. This multifaceted game will also ultimately result in Oliver getting the call to represent his country in Sochi, with a probable spot on the top defensive pairing to boot.

Last Ranking: 6

#6 - Calgary Flames (Mark Giordano)

Choosing where to put the Flames and Oilers has become the most difficult part of this column, as flashes of brilliance are usually accompanied by long periods of absolutely brutal play. This best sums up the Flames, as they have once again reverted to their talent level and find themselves woefully lacking in nearly every position. In the midst of this though is Mark Giordano, an underrated and overlooked member of the Calgary defense corps that goes about his job of captaining the Flames. By purely statistical measures Giordano stands out with a -1 ranking on a team that is -30 overall, a total made all the more impressive since he always plays against the others teams best line. However the real value of Giordano is in the intangible qualities of leadership within the locker room, evidenced by the swoon the Flames endured in November when he was injured, and the resurgence that briefly filled their sails upon his return. The road back to respectability may be long for Calgary, but here's hoping Giordano is still there to be part of it!

Last Ranking: 5

#7 - Edmonton Oilers (Taylor Hall)

Where to start with the Oilers? There is so much wrong, and so little right, that trying to explain why they're at the bottom is exhausting to even contemplate. In the midst of all the badness though, one player is at least performing the way he is supposed to: Taylor Hall. Say what you want about his giveaways and reluctance to pass, there is no player on that roster who wants to win more passionately than Hall does, and that is translated into an honest effort in every game that he plays. Not only does he lead the team in points, but he shows up every night ready to carry the Oilers on his back; which often results in him trying to do too much. Still, if everyone on that team had the same work ethic, at least some of the problems that plague Edmonton would disappear. Regardless of all that though, there is a superstar stud in Edmonton on the verge of busting out - opponents beware!

Last Ranking: 7


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