The top three teams in the Pacific Division have been buzzing since the trade deadline.
The Vegas Golden Knights, Los Angeles Kings, and Edmonton Oilers all have a shot at winning the Pacific and it might take all 82 games to find out who finishes where. This is amplified when considering that all three teams have less than 10 games remaining this season.
The Golden Knights currently hold the top spot in the Pacific with 98 points however, the Kings aren’t far behind with 96 points. The Oilers have also made significant ground with a big win over Vegas on Tuesday, and now have 95 points.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings have gone 10-1-2 since March 3. A big reason behind their incredible run is the new stability in net. The big addition LA made at the trade deadline was trading Jonathan Quick to Columbus for Joonas Korpisalo. Korpisalo wasted no time getting used to his new team and has put up great numbers since the trade.
Korpisalo’s stats as a King are a 4-1-1 record with a .931 save percentage. Korpisalo is a talented goalie who will flourish on a good team like LA. His reliable play in net should give fans much more confidence heading into playoffs regardless of who their opponent will be.
As for the rest of the team, everything seems to be clicking for LA. The Kings have outscored their opponents 54 to 32 since March 3, with the only defensive hiccup coming during their recent game against St. Louis where they allowed six goals. Despite the goals against LA still won the game 7-6.
If the team can stay healthy and bring their momentum into the playoffs, the Kings could find themselves to be a sneaky good pick for a Stanley Cup run.
Vegas Golden Knights
After missing the playoffs for the first time last season, Vegas quickly rebounded and now sits atop the Pacific Division. With a 10-3-0 record since the trade deadline, Vegas is doing all the right things to head into the playoffs as a Division winner.
Like the Kings, Vegas went out and acquired another goalie who’s already making a difference. During the season, Vegas got excellent goaltending from Logan Thompson and Adin Hill. However, both Thompson and Hill are battling injuries with some uncertainty about when they’ll be fully healthy.
With Thompson and Hill out, Vegas has relied on its newest acquisition, Jonathan Quick. Despite struggling throughout the season, Quick has been reinvigorated since becoming a Golden Knight, winning five out of his first seven starts with Vegas.
With some uncertainty around Thompson, Quick may be the start going into the playoffs where he always plays his best. While Vegas has dealt with the most injuries out of the three teams mentioned so far, adding Quick gives them a big boost in regards to playoff experience and performance in net.
The Oilers currently sit third in the Pacific but they still have a shot at jumping up in the standings. The Oilers are 10-2-1 since March 3, and their dynamic offense has shown no signs of slowing down.
Edmonton’s big acquisition came when they traded for defenseman Mattias Ekholm. As an Oiler, Ekholm has recorded nine points in 14 games played. Ekholm will likely be a big impact during playoffs with his ability to shut down top players while contributing offensively.
Of course, there’s Connor McDavid who’s having himself a generational season with 60 goals and 143 points. Coming off a run to the Western Conference Final last season, McDavid along with Draisaitl will be poised to go on another deep run.
The main concern for Edmonton will be goaltending and depth scoring as both have been inconsistent this season. However, if the whole team can click as LA has, there’s a good chance that Edmonton will finish the season higher than third in the Pacific Division.
The biggest factor that’ll determine where these teams finish will be their performances against each other. The Kings and Oilers will face each other on March 30, and again on April 4. After that, the Kings will play Vegas on April 6.
These games will be instrumental in determining playoff seeding and will all bring playoff-type atmospheres and intensity.
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