" You desire to see more of what's been going on the last couple of weeks," McDavid said. Connor McDavid, right, and Leon Draisaitl, left, are 1-2 in NHL scoring coming out of the all-star break and the Oilers boast a 5-1-1 record in January." Every game right now is kind of a must-win," Flames centre Sean Monahan said."I think the one thing that we have going for us in this conference is we've been kind of fighting all year and grinding to stay in the fight in these video games," Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey said."Playoffs start now," he said.

Matthew Tkachuk does not require to be advised of the Pacific Division's razor-thin margins.

And if he did, the Calgary Flames winger would not need to go far.

" There's standings posted in our locker space, there's [stat] sheets out," Tkachuk stated. "It's hard to miss it even if you're not attempting to try to find it.

" I see it all the time."

In fact, it's gazing everyone in the face.

With between 30 and 33 games left on the schedule coming out of the NHL all-star break, five groups in the Pacific Division are separated by a single point atop the journal-- the most recent this lots of clubs have ever been this close this late in a season.

McDavid, Draisaitl shoulder heavy load

The Vancouver Canucks are in the motorist's seat, albeit precariously, with 58 points through 49 contests. The Edmonton Oilers are next with 57 points through 49 trips, while Tkachuk's Flames have the very same number through 50 games.

Hot on the heels of the three Canadian franchises are the Arizona Coyotes (57 points in 51 video games) and the Vegas Golden Knights (57 points in 52 games), who currently occupy both wild-card areas in the Western Conference.

< path fill=" 000000" d=" M6.648,29.759c5.199-1.4,8.398 -4.4,8.398 -8.801 c0-2.398 -2 -3 -3.599 -4.199 c-2.2 -1.6 -3.399 -3.4 -3.399 -6.6 c0-3.801,3.399 -6.801,7.399 -6.801 c4.599,0,8.8,3.201,8.8,10.6c0,13.6-7,20 -17.6,21.801 V29.759 z M29.648,29.759 c5.199-1.4,8.398 -4.4,8.398 -8.801 c0-2.398 -2 -3 -3.599 -4.199 c-2.2 -1.6 -3.401 -3.4 -3.401 -6.6 c0-3.801,3.401 -6.801,7.401 -6.801 c4.599,0,8.8,3.201,8.8,10.6c0,13.6-7,20 -17.6,21.801 V29.759 z" > We have actually put ourselves in a position to be a part of it. Now we have to jump in with

both feet ...-- Oilers head coach Dave Tippett on a firmly contested Pacific Division" It's crazy," Canucks centre Brandon Sutter said. "I don't think I've ever seen that before. It's going to be tight all the

way down the stretch. It's absolutely one of the much deeper divisions in the

league now. Undoubtedly, there is some high-end gamers throughout." It's going to be a dogfight right to the end." The Oilers missed the playoffs the last two springs, and have actually qualified for the post-season simply twice in the last 14 years, but with the NHL's 2 leading scorers in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl shouldering a heavy load, the franchise appears primed for a go back to the spring dance.

" We have actually put ourselves in a position to be a part of it," Edmonton head coach Dave Tippett said. "Now we need to leap in with both feet and see what we can do."

The Oilers were just 5-8-1 in December to move down the standings, however are 5-1-1 in January coming off their bye week and all-star break.

Kassian nears return

" You wish to see more of what's been going on the last couple of weeks," McDavid said. "December was a month that escaped us, and we seem to have actually discovered it once again a little bit here in the brand-new year. We need to keep that going."

Connor McDavid, right, and Leon Draisaitl, left, are 1-2 in NHL scoring coming out of the all-star break and the Oilers boast a 5-1-1 record in January. Tied in points with Calgary in a Pacific Division up for grabs, Edmonton faces the competing Flames twice today. ( Jason Franson/Canadian Press/File)

Another layer to the Pacific race is the restored tensions in the Battle of Alberta originating from a heated Jan. 11 encounter where Tkachuk levelled Zack Kassian with 2 substantial hits. That triggered Kassian to jump Tkachuk and make himself a two-game suspension.

The Oilers and Flames play twice today-- Wednesday in Edmonton when Kassian is qualified to go back to the lineup and again three nights later on in Calgary.

" Every game today is sort of a must-win," Flames centre Sean Monahan said. "It's so tight."

Vancouver, meanwhile, has missed the playoffs four years running, and 5 of the last 6, however there's renewed belief in a lineup led by the young trio of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes.

"Teams in our conference are huge and strong," Canucks winger Jake Virtanen stated. "We can't let go the gas."

Jets 'comfortable' grinding, combating for points

And then there's the Winnipeg Jets, a club that's lost six of its last 7 in regulation, however likewise one that stays in the hunt in both the Central Division and wild-card races with 54 points from 51 games.

"I think the one thing that we have going for us in this conference is we've been kind of combating all year and grinding to stay in the fight in these games," Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey stated."Playoffs begin now," he stated. "You much better hope you're peaking now, due to the fact that you want to get in.


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