Flames trending up, Oilers sinking fast in Western Conference

Trending up

  • Calgary Flames: Just call them the comeback kids. After erasing three two-goal deficits before edging the New Jersey Devils 5-4 in the shootout, Calgary has recorded four wins in the past five games to put itself within reach of the Pacific Division lead heading into this week. Calgary sits three points back of the Anaheim Ducks after Anaheim's 2-1 win over Arizona on Sunday. Captain Mark Giordano continues to shine, leading all NHL defensemen with 23 points.

  • Los Angeles Kings’ cap situation: Finally, the Kings received some relief from the league after toiling for weeks in cap purgatory during the ongoing criminal proceedings against defenseman Slava Voynov, who has been suspended indefinitely since his domestic violence arrest last month. Voynov was charged with a felony count of corporal injury to his spouse this week. Though his $4.17 million cap hit was previously kept on the books, the Kings are now allowed to treat his salary as they would with a player on long-term injured reserve. This should prevent the Kings from having to play any additional games short-handed.

  • Jason Demers: The former San Jose Shark, who was shipped to Dallas last week in a trade for defenseman Brenden Dillon, endeared himself to his new Stars teammates rather quickly. Demers rocked Kings forward Jarret Stoll in the open ice with a perfectly executed hip check, then went on to score what would hold up as the winning goal in his debut for Dallas during the Stars’ 5-4 win over the Kings on Saturday. Demers’ teammate Jamie Benn didn’t have a bad night, either, finishing with two goals and one assist in the Stars’ win over the defending Stanley Cup champs.

  • Jannik Hansen: On a night when forward Daniel Sedin was honored for playing his 1,000th NHL game -- all with the Canucks -- the Danish forward notched his first NHL hat trick in Vancouver's 4-1 win against the Blackhawks. Hansen extended his goal streak to three games, bringing his total during that stretch to five goals overall.

Trending down

  • Dallas Eakins’ job security: Twitter was abuzz Sunday with speculation over whether Eakins would be the latest casualty of the Edmonton Oilers’ train wreck. Although star player Taylor Hall went to bat for his coach over the weekend, telling reporters it would be “so unfair” to give Eakins the ax, it’s hard to imagine he’ll survive the team’s current nose dive. The club has dropped six straight, most recently a humiliating 7-1 drubbing courtesy of the Chicago Blackhawks. Dan Bylsma had better get his passport ready.

  • San Jose Sharks: Eakins may not be the only coach on the chopping block out West, with the Sharks continuing to stumble and Todd McLellan’s seat growing hotter by the day. The Sharks surrendered their third straight in Saturday’s 4-3 shootout defeat to the Arizona Coyotes. That’s three losses to some of the weakest teams in the league; before Saturday’s loss, the Sharks had dropped games to the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers.

Injury report

  • St. Louis’ Jay Bouwmeester saw his ironman streak end Sunday when he missed the Blues’ game against the Winnipeg Jets with a lower-body injury. The veteran defenseman had played 737 consecutive games.

  • It is not immediately clear whether Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis will require surgery, but he is expected to miss extended time after suffering a lower-body injury in Thursday’s game against Anaheim.

What to watch for

  • Unrest in Edmonton: If Eakins does not get fired this week, one would imagine the Oilers may go the trade route to try to shake things up and provide the club with a much-needed jolt heading into this week’s three-game road trip. Will Oilers GM Craig MacTavish begin shopping Jordan Eberle, as many have long wondered, or put a guy like David Perron on the trading block? Don’t rule out anything when it comes to floundering club.

  • Who steps up for Blues? The “STL Line” remains the hottest line in hockey at the moment, but we’ve all seen what can happen with lopsided production. Alexander Steen tallied his fourth goal of the season in the Blues’ 3-2 win over Ottawa on Saturday and followed up with a pair of assists in the Blues' 4-2 win against Winnipeg on Sunday. In addition to a power-play marker from Jaden Schwartz, the Blues also got goals from David Backes, Ryan Reaves and Paul Stastny. Can they sustain such offensive balance? Also, does coach Ken Hitchcock continue to alternate with Jake Allen and Brian Elliott in goal or does he give one netminder the chance to run with it?