While some would argue that the Pacific Division hasn’t been as good this season as it’s been in recent years, it still houses some of the better teams in the National Hockey League, including the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, an Anaheim Ducks team that has one of the best records this season and a resurgent Vancouver Canucks club. Of course, these teams are powered by some of the top names in the entire league.
Here’s a look at some of those players who are leading the division, and in some cases are also league leaders, in key statistical categories through Thursday’s action:
Points: Joe Pavelski – San Jose Sharks
The late-season adversity of the San Jose Sharks has had virtually no ill effects on forward Joe Pavelski. He leads the Pacific Division and is ranked 10th in the NHL in scoring with 65 points (34g, 31a) in 71 games. Twenty-eight of those 65 points have been on San Jose’s power play, which is ranked sixth in the league with a 21.6% success rate, while four of them have been game-winners. 38.4% of his points this season have come against Pacific Division foes.
Pavelski, a Wisconsin native, is on pace to finish the season with 74 points (39g, 35a).
Other Pacific Division Point Leaders
|Joe Thornton||San Jose||62|
Overtime-winning goals: Three Pacific players tied
The Pacific is littered with clutch performers, with three of the top five players in the overtime-winning goals category hailing from the division. Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin, Calgary’s Sean Monahan and Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson all have three goals in the extra period, with only the Islanders’ John Tavares with more (four).
Ekman-Larsson also leads all NHL defensemen in goals (19), power play goals (nine) and game-winning goals (seven).
Time on ice/game: Drew Doughty – Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings are in the thick of the postseason race, and if they’re going to get back there, they’re going to have to rely on their top players playing big minutes. One of those is defenseman Drew Doughty. He not only leads the division, but leads the league in average ice time per game with 29:21.
Doughty has reached or eclipsed 30 minutes of playing time 29 times this season and played a season-high 34:21 against St. Louis on December 18.
Other Pacific Division TOI/G Leaders
Faceoff win percentage: Joe Thornton – San Jose Sharks
While Pavelski is getting a lot of attention for what he’s doing on the scoresheet, fellow forward Joe Thornton is getting a lot of attention for doing something that doesn’t always show up on the scoresheet- and that’s winning faceoffs. Thornton is tops in the Pacific and is ranked third in the NHL with a 58.4% faceoff win percentage, trailing only Boston’s Patrice Bergeron (59.8%) and Montreal’s Manny Malhotra (59.4%).
Pavelski’s faceoff win percentage is even more impressive at home, where he’s winning draws at a 60% rate. Despite the great faceoff numbers, his off-ice comments are probably drawing more attention of late.
Other Pacific Division faceoff win percentage leaders
|Player||Team||Face-off Win Percentage|
|Joe Pavelski||San Jose||55.2%|
Blocked shots: Kris Russell – Calgary Flames
Like San Jose and LA, the Calgary Flames are fighting for their playoff lives and the shot blocking abilities of defenseman Kris Russell will be key down the stretch as games take on the more defensive, tighter nature that they do in the Spring.
Russell not only leads the Pacific, but he leads the league with 244 blocks through 69 games this year. The division also features three other players in the NHL’s top 10 in blocked shots (Michael Stone with 164 blocks, Dennis Wideman with 162 blocks, T.J. Brodie with 155 blocks).
Other Pacific Division Blocks Leaders
Shutouts: Jonathan Quick – Los Angeles Kings and Ryan Miller – Vancouver Canucks
Quick has hit the six shutout mark twice before in his career, but he still needs four more to reach his career-high of 10 in a season. Quick reached that mark during the Kings’ 2011-12 campaign. Miller, meanwhile, has enjoyed a modest uptick in his numbers in his first season in Vancouver. He has already eclipsed last season’s win total of 25 games and despite being injured, he has already matched his career-high of six shutouts in a single season, which he originally set with Buffalo during the 2011-12 season.