We Have a 'Pac-3' of Hockey
In terms of picking a team to emerge on top, the NHL's Pacific Division is a tough nut to crack. As of Friday only four points separated the L.A. Kings, the Anaheim Ducks and the San Jose Sharks. The Ducks are on the current run, but each team has had its up-and-down streaks, so anything could happen before April. And it may come down to a trade-deadline shuffle to sway the decision.
Anaheim is the team to beat these days. After his team struggled at the start the season, Coach Bruce Boudreau was on the chopping block. Now he may be the coach of the year. The Ducks have taken flight, losing only two games in all of February and on a six-game winning streak going into Friday's home game against Edmonton. One of the reasons for their recent success is that center Ryan Getzlaf has finally come around. He had a nine-game point streak going into Friday. Winger Corey Perry also has points in eight of his last nine games.
Meanwhile, the Kings – in total control of the division just a month ago – have fallen on hard times in the scoring department. They rode a nice little three-game winning streak into Saturday's homer with the Sabres, but they only scored two goals in each of those wins. In fact, they've hit the under in six straight. The Kings would be nowhere were it not for G Jonathan Quick, whose 2.17 goals against average has kept them in games.
San Jose has been in some crazy scoring games lately, hitting the over in five of the last seven. But they've done something to shore up their defense, by trading to get Roman Polak. Joe Thornton (56 points) and Joe Pavelski (26 goals) are bringing the work at the offensive end.
Streak Into Playoffs
Each of these teams has been streaky along the way, but the Ducks are the "now" team, so I like them to come out atop the division. I wouldn't expect them to go deep in the post season; too much Chicago and Dallas for that. But for the short run they should be good. And for the short, short run look for them to beat the Kings at home on Sunday. Anything better than -120 would be good. The Kings will be coming off a back-to-back.
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