NHL First Quarter Analysis: Pacific Division Part One

The NHL season is rolling along full steam ahead; teams have now played past the season’s quarter mark. Some teams have played just as expected when the puck dropped for the new season. Other teams have been surprising by either overachieving or underachieving through the NHL first quarter. Today we look at the performance and storylines of the teams in the NHL Pacific Division.

NHL Pacific Division First Quarter Analysis

Anaheim Ducks

8th Place with 21 Points | 6-16-3

Before the season’s opening faceoff, the Anaheim Ducks entered feeling hopeful for the upcoming season. The Ducks have a good young core and were looking forward to seeing some growth from within this group. Unfortunately for the Duck’s fanbase, they will not be contending for a playoff position this year. Instead, they have a chance at the draft lottery sweepstakes for WHL phenom Connor Bedard.

Young forwards Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras lead the Ducks offensively with 26 and 22 points, respectively. However, after those two, there is a considerable drop off in individual offence as Adam Henrique ranks third among Ducks forwards with just 13 points. With that, it is no shock that Anaheim currently sits 31st in goals-for-per-game averaging 2.44. The Ducks’ defensive play has been even worse, ranking dead last in goals-allowed-per-game with 4.16. They also allow a league-worst 37.8 shots per game and have the worst penalty kill at an abysmal 65.2% success rate.

Anaheim is dealing with their share of injuries as defenceman Jamie Drysdale, John Klingberg and John Moore are all currently sidelined. As a result, the Ducks’ best bet may be to focus on their young players’ continued development and hope they are fortunate enough to call Connor Bedard’s name at the draft next summer.

Calgary Flames

5th Place with 25 Points | 11-10-3

The Calgary Flames have experienced different results throughout the first quarter. The Flames looked solid in October, going 5-2 in the season’s first month. However, they started the following month by going on a seven-game losing streak and free-falling down the Pacific division standings. Since the lengthy losing streak, Calgary has played .500 hockey with a 6-4-1 record. If the season were to end today, Calgary would find themselves on the outside looking in and would miss the playoffs.

Offensive Woes Hampering Flames

Calgary’s offensive woes aren’t helped because their two big-name newcomers, Jonathon Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri, haven’t been able to replicate their success from last season. Huberdeau followed up his 115-point campaign last year with just 13 points through 21 games in Calgary. Kadri, who also had a career-high last season with 87 points, has just 16 points through his first 24 games as a Flame.

Markstrom’s Struggles

Jacob Markstrom has also struggled this season, regressing from a year ago when he was a Vezina Trophy Candidate and had a league-high nine shutouts. This season Markstrom has seen his GAA rise to 2.97 from 2.22 last year and his SV% drop to .889 from .922 a year ago.


Despite their struggles through the first quarter, expect Calgary to be right in the thick of a tightly contested playoff race in the NHL Pacific Division as the season winds along. Calgary has a shooting percentage of just 8.6% despite taking 34.8 shot-on-goal per game. The Flames could use some puck luck to help them improve this shooting percentage, and if that happens, expect Calgary to make a strong push for a playoff position by the season’s end.

Edmonton Oilers

4th Place with 28 Points | 14-11-0

Coming off of a berth in the Western Conference Finals, expectations were sky-high coming into the season. The Oilers have demonstrated their potential during stretches of the season, including a season-high five-game winning streak in late October. The Edmonton Oilers thought they had found the answer to their goaltending problems by signing former Toronto Maple Leafs’ goalie Jack Campbell to a 5-year contract during the offseason. However, the Oilers’ goaltending remains to be questionable as Campbell has a 7-6-0 record to go with a 4.12 GAA and a.872 SV%

Edmonton was dealt a blow to their depth scoring when Evander Kane suffered a gruesome injury after being cut by a skate in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Kane is expected to be out another 2-3 months, but it’s been revealed that he has recently resumed skating.

Dynamic Duo

Connor McDavid has been otherworldly again this season, and Leon Draisatl has been there beside him. McDavid leads the league in goals scored with 21 and has 47 points in 25 games. Draisatl keeps pace with McDavid and sits second in the league, scoring 42 points in 25 games. The duo never ceases to amaze and can provide jaw-dropping highlight-reel plays on any night. McDavid is on pace to eclipse the 150-point mark based on his production through the NHL first quarter.


The Oilers’ highly potent offence will keep them in playoff position as the season progresses. However, Edmonton needs Campbell to rediscover his game if they want to challenge for a division title.

Los Angeles Kings

3rd Place with 30 Points | 13-10-4

The Los Angeles Kings showed a resurgence beginning with a playoff berth last season. However, after pushing the Oilers to the brink last spring, the Kings could not secure a series-deciding fourth victory and were eliminated in seven games. During the off-season, the Kings brought a bonafide scoring winger in Kevin Fiala. Fiala hasn’t disappointed in his first season with the Kings, as he leads the team with 28 points in 27 games played. The Kings look to be locked into what will become a tight race for the final two playoff positions out of the division.

Kings Need Better Goaltending and Improvement Defensively

The Kings currently rank 25th league-wide regarding goals allowed per game, averaging 3.59 goals against. Their penalty kill ranks towards the bottom of the league as well, killing penalties at a 73% success rate. Jonathan Quick has regained his status as the Kings’ starter, but his numbers are far from good. He has a 3.33 GAA to go along with a .888 SV% in his 19 appearances. Back-up Calvin Petersen was recently sent to the AHL in hopes he can get more starts and build some confidence in his game. Petersen has played in 10 games this season and has a 3.75 GAA and a .868 SV%.


Through the NHL first quarter in the Pacific Division, the Kings are currently holding the third spot, they will be hard-pressed to remain in that spot if they continue to give up as many goals as they have been this far into the season. Expect strong pushes from the Oilers and Flames to knock the Kings down the standings as the season progresses.

All stats for this article were found on www.hockey-reference.com.

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