The start of the 2021-22 season has had some surprises, both good and bad, in the Pacific Division.
Each team now has at least a full week’s worth of games under their belt in the 2021-22 regular season, and we’ve learned… well, probably not much.
If you’ve been watching hockey for a while, you should know by now that there are only so many conclusions you can draw from the first five or six games of the season. Need I remind you of the 2018-19 St. Louis Blues being in last place in the entire league in January? Your opinions on certain teams probably shouldn’t have changed too much yet from what you thought of them heading into the season.
Still, while we may not know which teams will keep it up, that doesn’t mean we need to ignore what we have seen so far. With that in mind, it’s time for our first Pacific Division power rankings of the new season.
8. Seattle Kraken (1-4-1)
Welcome to the power rankings, Seattle. You’re starting at the bottom.
The Kraken’s offseason moves gave you the impression they were more focused on seeing out a long-term plan than trying to catch lightning in a bottle right away — the way Vegas did. And, well, the result so far looks like a team that isn’t going to contend right away. They played a competitive debut game against the Golden Knights, then defeated the Nashville Predators in their next game, but it’s been tough sledding for the Kraken since then.
They’ve been outscored 16-6 over the course of their current four-game losing streak, blowing a third-period lead with a chance to win their first-ever home game against the Canucks on Saturday. Philipp Grubauer was a surprising signing by Seattle after being a Vezina finalist with the Colorado Avalanche last year, but he’s not off to a good start with the team. Grubauer’s posted an .869 save percentage and 3.80 goals against average through five starts.
Anyway, here’s Vince Dunn blowing the roof off Climate Pledge Arena with the Kraken’s first-ever goal on home ice.
This week: VS MTL, VS MIN, VS NYR
7. Anaheim Ducks (2-3-1)
Anaheim was the league’s worst offensive team last season, averaging just 2.21 goals for per game. The Ducks have looked more dynamic offensively so far this season, averaging 2.83 goals for per game. Kevin Shattenkirk, Troy Terry, and Jakob Silfverberg are tied for the team lead with six points each through six games, while Rickard Rakell leads the way with four goals.
Rakell nets the equalizer for the Ducks
— Bet The Pucks (@betthepucks) October 19, 2021
They’ve scored at least three goals four times in their first six games. It took them 14 games to do that last year. The rebuilding Ducks are highly unlikely to contend this year, but they’ll take any signs of progress they can find. At the very least, this team looks more watchable than last year.
This week: VS WPG, VS BUF, @ VGK, VS MTL
6. LA Kings (1-3-1)
Well, at least that blowout win over Vegas to start the season was fun.
Because there’s not been a lot of fun to be had since then for your LA Kings, they’ve dropped four straight games. While the first three were all by one goal, they put forth a brutal effort against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.
It was a pretty discouraging performance in their first game without Drew Doughty, who suffered a knee injury during Thursday’s overtime loss to the Dallas Stars. While it sounds like he may have avoided a major injury, there still hasn’t been a timeline provided for his return.
In the meantime, the Kings will have to find a way to win games without him. That means that someone other than Anze Kopitar is going to have to start scoring goals.
Anze Kopitar! 1-0 LAK pic.twitter.com/gsXh3Hewis
— Hockey Royalty (@Hockey_Royalty) October 20, 2021
This week: @ STL, VS WPG, VS MTL, VS BUF
5. Vancouver Canucks (3-2-1)
The Canucks managed to break even on their season-opening six-game road trip by winning the final two games against the Chicago Blackhawks and the Kraken. Conor Garland has been making a great first impression in Vancouver, racking up eight points (3-5-8) so far, tying him with J.T. Miller for the team lead.
— Harman Dayal (@harmandayal2) October 24, 2021
Meanwhile, Thatcher Demko has been looking like he’s up to the task of being the team’s clear-cut No. 1 goalie. Demko has posted a .924 save percentage and 2.58 goals against average through his first five starts this season.
This week: VS MIN, VS PHI, VS EDM
4. Calgary Flames (2-1-1)
The Flames are riding back-to-back victories into the new week. After a 33-save shutout from Jacob Markstrom got them into the win column last Thursday with a 3-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings, they proceeded to blow a 3-0 lead to the Washington Capitals on Saturday. Elias Lindholm saved the day for Calgary, though, finishing off a hat trick in overtime.
His nicest goal of the game was this shorthanded tally in the first period.
I truly cannot stop watching this goal from Elias Lindholm. Incredible individual effort, and the hands on the shot.
I wonder when we'll stop calling him underrated 🤔 pic.twitter.com/HCteK14Atl
— Hailey Salvian (@hailey_salvian) October 23, 2021
Lindholm has six goals in four games to start the season, while Johnny Gaudreau already has six assists to begin his contract year. Meanwhile, Andrew Mangiapane has followed up a breakout season last year with three goals so far this year.
That’s the good news for Calgary. The bad news is that Sean Monahan still looks pretty invisible out there. The Flames’ one-time franchise center has zero points and just five shots on goal so far this season.
This week: @ NYR, @ NJD, @ PIT, VS PHI
3. Vegas Golden Knights (1-4-0)
The Golden Knights came into the year as heavy favorites in the Pacific Division. Since we’re trying not to overreact too much to a handful of games, we won’t drop Vegas too far in these rankings. That, and we aren’t too sold yet on anyone else in this division. Still, they’ve had a brutal start to the season.
Having dropped four straight games since a season-opening 4-3 win over the Seattle Kraken is one thing; the injuries suffered by Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone, and the team’s play without them so far, is another. Vegas was shut out at home, 2-0 by the New York Islanders on Sunday, and has scored just four goals in three games without two of their top forwards.
He isn’t their biggest problem right now, but Robin Lehner has also struggled a bit in net to start the season, owning a .904 save percentage and 3.28 goals against average through five starts.
NHL Super Star Mat Barzal is just filthy with it pic.twitter.com/cW3iYVbm2K
— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) October 25, 2021
Neither Pacioretty nor Stone’s return seems imminent. The Knights are going to have to figure out a way to score some goals without them.
This week: @ COL, @ DAL, VS ANA
2. San Jose Sharks (4-1-0)
Last year, it took 24 games for the Sharks to string together consecutive wins for the first time. It’s far too early to know if San Jose is better than people thought, but a season-opening four-game winning streak had to be a breath of fresh air to Sharks fans after a tough couple of years.
Though handed their first loss of the season by the Boston Bruins on Sunday, the Sharks showed fight in that game, too, clawing back from deficits of 3-0 and 4-1 before ultimately falling by a score of 4-3. Logan Couture and Timo Meier are both off to blazing starts with eight points (3-5-8) each in five games. Erik Karlsson has also chipped in six points (2-4-6) from the back end, while rookie Jonathan Dahlen is off to a nice start with three goals and an assist to show for his first five NHL games.
— TEAL TOWN USA – A San Jose Sharks Podcast (@TEALTOWNUSA) October 22, 2021
This week: @ NSH, VS MTL, VS WPG
1. Edmonton Oilers (5-0-0)
It’s been a dream start to the season in Edmonton.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are still unstoppable. They’ve combined for 10 goals and 24 points through Edmonton’s first five games. But so far this year, they’ve also been getting more help than they usually do.
Jesse Puljujarvi, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zack Kassian, and newcomer Zach Hyman are all scoring at better than a point-per-game clip. So far, Hyman is looking like a terrific signing. The former Maple Leaf has five goals in his first five games as an Oiler — one back of McDavid for the team lead.
5 games as an Oiler
5 goals as an Oiler
Zach Hyman is an Oiler
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) October 23, 2021
Oh, and here’s some free advice for teams when they play Edmonton this year: Stay out of the penalty box. The Oilers’ power play is clicking at a 47.1% success rate this season.
This week: VS PHI, @ VAN