Pacific Division Static

Graphic: NHL

By George Casner III

Here at DucksNPucks, we tend to focus solely on the Anaheim Ducks(for obvious reasons). It also goes to say, for obvious reasons, this season has not been the best for the Ducks so far. However, I believe that this is the symptom of a much larger problem for the team, and no it isn’t Randy Carlyle though he doesn’t help. The biggest problem facing the Ducks is the stagnation of their division.

A lot of Ducks fans love to reflect on the 2014-15 season as the team’s best chance to win a second Stanley Cup. So let’s start there. I don’t want to go over the teams in the playoffs due to the wild card factor so instead, I will just be looking at the top three teams in each division from the 2014-15 season.

Stars: 50-23-9, 109 points
Blue: 49-24-9, 107 points
Blackhawks: 47-26-9, 103 points

Ducks: 46-25-11, 103 points
Kings: 48-28-6, 102 points
Sharks: 46-30-6, 98 points

Panthers: 47-26-9, 103 points
Lightning: 46-31-5, 97 points
Red Wings: 41-31-11, 93 points

Capitals: 56-18-8, 120 points
Penguins: 48-26-8, 104 points
Rangers: 46-27-9, 101 points

As you can see, with the exception of the Capitals, nearly all the Eastern teams had a worse record than their western counterparts; and the Stanley Cup that year was won by the Blackhawks, a western team.

Now, since the 2018-19 season is still happening, let’s fast forward to the 2017-18 season.

Predators: 53-18-11, 117 points
Jets: 52-20-10, 114 points
Wild: 45-26-11, 101 points

Golden Knights: 51-24-7, 109 points
Ducks: 44-25-13, 101 points
Sharks: 45-27-10, 100 points

Capitals: 49-26-7, 105 points
Penguins: 47-29-6, 100 points
Flyers: 42-26-14, 98 points

Lightning: 54-23-5, 113 points
Bruins: 50-20-12, 112 points
Maple Leafs: 49-26-7, 105 points

And this is where we see big changes. Three years earlier only two eastern conference teams beat the Ducks in total points, the Capitals and the Penguin (with the Panthers tying them at 103). Jump to 2018 and four of the eastern teams have more points than the Ducks; and as we all know the Capitals finally won their first Stanley Cup this year. It went to the east.

Now, points aren’t everything and once the playoffs start anything can happen but numbers don’t lie. If you look at each division’s total points side by side you will see:

Central total points:
2015: 319 points
2018: 335 points

Pacific total points:
2015: 303 points
2018: 310 points

Metropolitan total points:
2015: 325 points
2018: 303 points

Atlantic total points:
2015: 293 points
2018: 330 points

Looking at these we can see that the Central Division rose 16 points, the Pacific rose 7 points, the Metro dropped by 22 points, and the Atlantic rose by 37 points.
Now, the decline of the Pacific is not as dramatic as the Metro’s collapse but it is still an interesting note.

While we are still in the middle of this season let’s take a look at the numbers(through 1-4-19).

Jets: 25-13-2, 52 points
Predators: 24-15-3, 51 points
Stars: 22-16-4, 48 points

Flames: 26-13-4, 56 points
Golden Knights: 25-15-4, 54 points
Sharks: 22-13-7, 51 points

Capitals: 24-12-4, 52 points
Penguins: 23-12-6, 52 points
Blue Jackets: 23-14-3, 49 points

Lightning: 32-7-2, 66 points
Maple Leafs: 26-12-2, 54 points
Bruins: 23-14-4, 50 points

Central: 151 points
Pacific: 161 points
Metro: 153 points
Atlantic: 170 points

Now, again, this season is ongoing but it shows that the Pacific has stayed relatively static over the past four years while other divisions, especially the Atlantic, have risen. This season shows that the Metro is still falling, the Central might be on a decline as well, but the Pacific has remained mostly the same, and the Atlantic has been rising this whole time.

Is this cause for concern? No, this happens all the time in hockey; divisions rise and fall repeatedly. But this could help explain why it has been rough for the Ducks. Could it be the Ducks don’t perform consistently well because the level of competition in the Pacific isn’t as great as other divisions in recent years? Or could it just be the number of injuries the team has sustained in the past few seasons? Or maybe it could be something else? Share your thoughts below.

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January 6th, 2019


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