Las Vegas–Yesterday Vegas Knights of The Roundtable kicked off its 8 part series with analyzing the 1st three teams in the Pacific Division, the Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton Oilers, and San Jose Sharks and how the Vegas Golden Knights will match up against them this coming season.
Today we continue this analysis with the remaining teams in the Pacific with the Calgary Flames, Los Angeles Kings, Arizona Coyotes, and Vancouver Canucks.
Last season, we saw the Flames organization take a similar step forward like the Oilers did in their development by posting a 45-33-4 record with 94 points. In their previous campaign, they had 77 points with a 35-40-7 record.
This improvement was contributed by a couple of factors starting with goaltenders Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson‘s collective performance between the pipes who recorded. They each posted a .910 save percentage and had 2.55 and 2.59 GAA respectively.
Elliott record for the 2016-17 season was 26-18-3 while Johnson posted an 18-15-1 record.
Another factor that helped the Flames jump from 5th place the season before to 4th their penalty kill ratio. In the 2015-16 season, they were dead last in killing penalties at 75.64%, this past season they improved that by jumping up 18 spots to 12th in the league with an 81.59% rate.
The powerplay game was also another reason for the improvement from the 2015-16 campaign this past season. In prior season they were 22nd in the league while on the man advantage with 17.04% to their credit while this past campaign they jumped 11 spots to 11th at 20.26%
Power play goals 2015-16 vs 2016-17 (46 and 52). To note their GF was 226 and GA 221 last season.
Their leading goal scorer was Sean Monahan with 27 and the team’s leader in the assists was Johnny Gaudreau with 43.
I think Vegas needs to understand that the Flames are on the slow and steady rise and will need to bring a compete level each time they face off against them that will help slow that process down a bit.
Los Angeles Kings
For Los Angeles, they took a major dip in the standings in the Pacific as they completed the season in 5th place with a 39-35-8 record with 86 points. They also missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs after they were knocked about the Stanley Cup Finalist San Jose Sharks in the opening round.
They also missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season. In the prior campaign, they were knocked out by the Stanley Cup Finalist San Jose Sharks in the opening round.
In that year, they were in 2nd of the Pacific with 102 points with a 48-28-6 record.
This team resented went thru a major shakeup as they fired long time General Manager Dean Lombardi, the engineer of the 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup Champions Kings, bench boss Darryl Sutter who helped deliver both Cups to LA, Assistant Coach Davis Payne was also let go.
They replaced Sutter with former Assistant Coach John Stevens who takes command of the bench again. The last time Stevens led a coaching staff behind the behind was his time in Philadelphia with the Flyers organization from 2006 thru 2010.
Upstairs in the General Managers office, former NHLer Rob Blake was promoted to the position in building the future of the Kings franchise.
Last season their GF was 201 and GA at 205 which is not surprising to the least given that Los Angeles is not known for their offense. Under the Sutter system, they were more of a defensive minded team.
Their power play success rate was okay just below the 20% threshold at 19.09%, while their penalty kill ratio was in the leagues top 5 in that department at 84.49%.
They produced 46 power play goals last season during Sutter’s last stint behind the bench.
LA’s only 30 goal scorer during the 2016-17 campaign was Jeff Carter who produced 32. In the assists department 1st season as team captain with the Kings, Anze Kopitar recorded 40.
Their defensive backbone is led by veteran blueliner Drew Doughty who had an ATOI last season of 27:09.
For the Golden Knights, they need to be wary about how Doughty plays the game and having newly drafted defenseman Brayden McNabb courtesy of the Vegas Draft should be able to help out his new team in how they need play when #8 is out patrolling the blueline for Los Angeles.
The Coyotes franchise is probably going to the be the Golden Knights first ever divisional rival in the Pacific given its proximity to the Las Vegas and also that LA has it already with Anaheim and San Jose.
For Arizona, they have not qualified to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the 2011-12 season when they made it to the Western Conference Finals. From the 2012 to 2016 campaigns, they placed 4th 3 times, 6th and 7th places 1 time.
From the 2012 to 2016 campaigns, they placed 4th 3 times, 6th and 7th places once. In the span, their highest points total was in the 2013-14 season at 89. This past season they posted a 30-42-10 for a disappointing 70 points.
This team last season recorded a terrible power play ratio of 16.17% while scoring 38 times. Their penalty kill success rate was also bad at 77.31%.
Their highest goal scorer was Radim Vrbata who scored 20 during the course of the last campaign. On the assist side, it was Vrbata with 35.
Regardless of the fact that Arizona has been struggling over the years doesn’t mean the Golden Knights should take them lightly. They still can play a good game when everyone is playing at their best so Vegas needs to be ready for that.
The key for the Golden Knights to have success against the “Desert Dogs” as they are codenamed as around the league is don’t play down to their level.
Going forward for the Coyotes they will be moving on without their franchise player and Captain Shane Doan who elected not to resign the organization.
Arizona’s GF was 197 and their GA was 260 last season.
With the Canucks have out of the playoff race for the last two seasons after being in 6th place during the 2014-15 campaign and 7th place last year.
They completed the last season with a 30-43-9 record for 69 points.
The Sedin twins Henrik and Daniel are both 36 years of age and both their games seem to be a thing of the past. For Daniel Sedin, he scored 15 goals, 29 assists for 44 points while his brother Henrik Sedin also scored 15 goals of his own and pitched in with 50 points.
Between the pipes is 36-year-old Ryan Miller who did not have a good year with Vancouver with posting a .914 save percentage and a GAA of 2.80 which is a second best career high for him. The last time he posted a GAA in that range was during his time with Buffalo where he recorded a 2.81 GAA in the 2012-13 season.
Vancouver was second worst in the league last year in the power play department at 14.10% and only converted 32 times while on the man advantage. Their penalty kill game was also bad too as they recorded a 76.68% rate.
In looking at Vancouver, the Golden Knights should be able to match up fairly well with the Canucks as their continued struggles in recent seasons come into play.
Tomorrow we will go into part 3 of our 8 part series and take a dive into the NHL’s Central Division.