Vancouver Canucks: C
The Canucks started slow this season after a disappointing 2020-2021 campaign as a member of the North Division. Vancouver, after advancing to the Conference Semifinals in 2020, missed the playoffs last year and is currently attempting to climb out of an early-season hole that could keep them out of the postseason again.
A coaching change in the middle of the season seemed to be the wake-up call that the Canucks needed, but the comeback effort has stalled in January. Entering Tuesday’s action, this team is four points out of a playoff spot with five teams that they would need to jump in order to get in.
There is still a lot of time in the season for the Canucks to get in, and if there is any team that is currently on the outside looking in that has a reasonable shot to get in the playoffs, it’s Vancouver. The talent is there, and the coaching change was a great move, but there still seems to be something missing. For that reason, the Canucks get a C.
Vegas Golden Knights: B
The Vegas Golden Knights are atop the Pacific Division, which is exactly where this team is supposed to be. In addition, Vegas went out and acquired forward Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres earlier in the season, and while he has not yet played a game for the Golden Knights, he addresses the team’s biggest need: a number one center.
That’s where Vegas has met its expectations. However, there are still areas in which the team needs to improve if it wants to contend for a championship. Defense, in particular, has declined this season, as the team gives up three goals per contest.
In reality, the Golden Knights’ offense should be able to overcome that, but while some teams are winning games, on average, by over a goal per game, Vegas is winning by just 0.4 goals per game. This team just doesn’t feel as dominant as I feel it should. That could change once everyone is healthy, but it just seems like there’s a little more to be desired in Sin City.
The overall tone of the NHL’s Pacific Division to me is potential. Most, if not all of these teams have the potential to be competitive in some capacity, and in the second half of the season, we’ll find out which ones live up to that potential.