Let’s ponder the battle for the Pacific Division crown


As difficult as it is to believe that the Anaheim Ducks now sit atop the Pacific Division, it’s even tougher to predict who will finish in first place when the regular season ends.

It doesn’t hurt to try though, right?

More: Read about the Ducks – Kings line brawl and Anaheim’s win

This post takes a quick overview of the roads (sometimes literally) ahead for the Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. For the sake of simplicity, the San Jose Sharks won’t get an in-depth look, but they shouldn’t be totally disregarded; while they’re down four points, their remaining schedule is fairly heavy on home contests.

The incentive to avoid said Sharks in a likely first-round matchup probably trumps the bragging rights of a division title, so let’s take a quick look.

Ducks’ drive

It’s not a bold statement to say that the Ducks are likely to cool off at least a bit. After all, they’re breaking plenty of records lately.

While Monday’s game against the Washington Capitals looms as a fascinating barometer, Anaheim’s schedule becomes especially interesting beginning on March 20.

The bad news for Anaheim is that they end the month with five road games. All of those games are against non-playoff teams, however, so that would be all about maintaining focus and energy.

All things considered, the Ducks’ schedule indicates that an April 7 road game against the Kings could indeed be pivotal.

Kings’ considerations

This current stretch through the middle of March might be Los Angeles’ best opportunity to really stack up points.

The Kings have three games remaining on their five-game homestand. They’ll also play five of their next seven contests at the Staples Center.

Los Angeles faces quite a few challenges against the formidable Central Division, and after looking at the Kings’ schedule, that April 7 game against the Ducks also sticks out like a sore thumb.


Long story short, both teams faces some bumps along the way, with the Ducks’ road trip standing out (though only so much).

For all we know, Saturday’s win for Anaheim might just provide the cushion the Ducks need to take the Pacific. A lot can change in a month, however … and don’t be surprised if it all boils down to April 7.

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

Harry How/Getty Images

CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

Getty Images

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

tampa bay lightning
Scott Audette/Getty Images

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.