Preface: Some of the point’s totals given for teams may no longer be correct, as this article was written over the weekend and has just now been posted.
With the hockey season now in full swing the battles for points within respective divisions is on fire. Some teams who started out strong still remain strong, many of which are surprises. Early on in this young season, the Pacific division has been worthy of recognition with the possibility that four of the five teams could make the playoffs.
The Northwest division has also solidified itself as a top dog, but that should come as no surprise to anyone. Instead the surprises lie in teams such as Los Angeles, leading the Pacific, Phoenix, who is showing it could make the playoffs for the first time in recent memory, and the Dallas Stars, who are turning it around after one of the most disappointing seasons since the move to Texas.
All but one of the Pacific teams has double digits in points, and two—Los Angeles and Dallas—are tied in points for first. Anaheim is the only team not considered a contender as of now, but the talent in Southern California could easily help the Ducks rectify that.
What does the talent packed Pacific mean for hockey?
If nothing else, it proves to warm climate hockey naysayers that hockey is just as popular on the west coast.
Additionally, the resurgence of hockey in Phoenix may save the franchise, although I admit there is still a long way to go. Although the fan base is limited, a playoff berth coupled with the new winning outlook brought in by coach Dave Tippett could help boost attendance.
Hockey in California these days is a beautiful thing. The rise of the Kings has California fans dreaming of their second Stanley Cup in the Los Angeles area. The Ducks, although easily forgettable due to bad play so far this year were the first to dip the Stanley cup in the Pacific Ocean when they won it in 2007. Additionally, the San Jose Sharks aren't a team to forget either and could even bring the Stanley Cup to the Bay area, although that would require them shaking their playoff demons off.
The Dallas Stars have found talent in their youth. With injuries early on in the season, sophomore James Neal and rookie Jamie Benn have been performing well. Rookies called up from the AHL Texas Stars have also been playing well, and Brenden Morrow, after missing most of last season, looks back to his true form this season. If the Stars can battle through injuries, they should make the playoffs and could even win the division.
The winner of the Pacific division is a long way from decided, but on this is for sure the Pacific is talent-packed and will continue to set a winning standard in the Western Conference.
It wouldn't be far-fetched to believe that half of the Western Conference's playoff teams could be represented by the Pacific division. Although unlikely, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a Pacific division team winning the Stanley Cup. Either way, the Pacific is a division worth watching.
Ken Armer is a Community Leader for the NHL and the Dallas Stars for Bleacher Report. He also covers the Anaheim Ducks for SoCalSportsHub.com and covers the Texas and Dallas Stars for Hockey54.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.