Around The Pacific: Boxing Day Showdown

Hello all! We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and for those who might not know, the day after Christmas is called Boxing Day in Canada, and it’s a huge day for the Pacific Division. Every Pacific Division team plays tomorrow, and all except the Stars play each other. It’s going to be a great day of hockey and an important one for the Stars, be sure to tune in and enjoy!

Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

1. San Jose Sharks: (19-10-3, 41 points)

Since Last Week: The Sharks have played the third and fourth games of their six game home stand since last week and picked up wins in both. They absolutely dominated the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-2 after a five-goal explosion in the first period, and squeaked out a 2-1 shootout win versus divisional opponent the Los Angeles Kings last Friday night.

Trending: The obvious answer to this is upwards. The drubbing of the Lightning showed how potent the San Jose offense can be, and pulling out a win against a rejuvenated Kings team is another example of the strength of the team.

Looking Ahead: The Sharks will wrap up their home stand over the next week, beginning with a match up against the Anaheim Ducks TONIGHT.

Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images

2. Dallas Stars: (20-13-1, 41 points)

Since Last Week: The Stars had a three-game holiday home stand last week, going 2-1 over that span. The only loss was an ugly one against the Philadelphia Flyers, but they picked up two strong wins to make the home stand a success.

Trending: Upwards. Richard Bachman is 5-2, but Lehtonen is scheduled to return this week. If he’s 100% then the Stars are going to continue to put together wins at an impressive pace. Friday night’s victory over the Nashville Predators made them the first team in the Pacific to hit 20 wins and with the top lines finally awakening from their slumber the Stars are putting themselves in an excellent position to succeed.

Looking Ahead: The Stars play TONIGHT against the reinvigorated St. Louis Blues. The team has been one of the best in the NHL since Ken Hitchcock took over coaching duties. Goaltender Brian Elliot has been a revelation and holds many of the top stats for all goalies in the NHL. The Stars are going to struggle to score against this team, and coming out strong and getting a hot start is imperative.

Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

3. Phoenix Coyotes: (18-14-3, 39 points)

Since Last Week: The ‘Yotes also went 2-1 over the last week, picking up solid wins against the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers before falling to the St. Louis Blues. The biggest news is that starting goalie Mike Smith was injured during the tilt with the Panthers, and it is not clear when he can return. Smith was performing sub-par before his injury, finally hitting a bump after an incredible start to the season, but the Coyotes will need him back as soon as possible if they want to keep winning games.

Trending: Neutral. Smith’s injury could be huge, but it remains to be seen just what back up Jason Labarbera can bring to the net when he’s called on. The Coyotes can either suffer multiple losses or survive despite the loss of Smith. If Smith is out long term, the Coyotes are in trouble, if he isn’t, the team should be able to survive the upcoming games with a few bumps and bruises but not much else.

Looking Ahead: The Coyotes are in action TONIGHT against the Los Angeles Kings. Speaking of Los Angeles…

Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images

4. Los Angeles Kings: (16-14-5, 37 points)

Since Last Week: The Kings have gone 2-0-1, with all three games going to a shootout. New head coach Darryl Sutter has officially taken the reigns and is 1-1 as coach so far. The team has pulled out a couple wins, but they were both decided in a skills competition, and were hardly impressive.

Trending: Neutral. Sutter’s just getting started, this next week should show where the team really is. It’s an important stretch for the Kings, who are on the precipice of falling out of contention for the Pacific with a bad stretch. The Kings are too good though, in my opinion, to truly be killed off for the season. A new coach, a new system, the Kings are going to come out hard and fast wanting to win for their new coach.

Looking Ahead: The Kings play TONIGHT against the Phoenix Coyotes, a game of immense importance for the Kings. A win puts them right back in the mix, a loss hurts everyone, and a another shootout ending will piss off everyone else in the Pacific.

Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

5. Anaheim Ducks: (9-19-6, 24 points)

Since Last Week: Two games, two losses, but one point thanks to a shootout loss. The 0-1-1 record is discouraging. The Stars let them come back from three goals down, but then killed any come back that was left in them. They went to the final minute with Los Angeles, but could not pick up a win in the shootout.

Trending: Down, and it’ll stay that way until this team can put together a convincing string of wins. Bourdreau still hasn’t made this team gel, and whispers of trades are slowly starting to creep back up.

Looking Ahead: The Ducks play TONIGHT against the San Jose Sharks. A win would be quite the feat, but having only won two games away from home this season, it’s not likely they’ll pick up anything but a loss in the shark tank.

 

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Topics: Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, Darryl Sutter, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks

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