There are 13-games remaining in the regular season for the Los Angeles Kings. After their 1-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes last night, the Kings sit in the final wild card spot in the Western Conference with 81-points.
The Kings have played 69-games this season, those 69-games have taken the Kings and their fans on quite the roller coaster ride. There has been losing streaks, there has been winning streaks, there has been reassignments and there has been injuries, but it all comes down to the final 26-days of the season.
The Kings are in a dog fight in their Division and Conference and have been in and out of the playoff picture for most of the season. As we get ready for the final sprint towards the playoffs, things look like they be just as exciting and unpredictable.
Here are three storylines to watch as the Kings finish off the ’14-’15 regular season and try to get into the playoffs.
The Kings will be on the road for nine of their remaining 13-games. Five of those games will come during a road trip from March 23 through March 30. This road trip will put the Kings up against some of the league’s top talent in the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild.
The Kings have been less than admirable when on the road this season. When away from Staples Center the Kings boast an embarrassing 12-14-6 record. Thats 34-points lost on the road for the Kings so far.
There’s a total of 26-points available for the Kings to grab before season’s end, 18 of those points will come on the road.
The Kings will have to play better than what their record suggests. At this point, anything less than a winning record away from Staples Center could spell an early summer for the defending Champs.
Jockeying For Position
Saying the Western Conference’s playoff race is tight is an understatement. One point separates the Kings from the Vancouver Canucks and second place in the Pacific Division. On the other hand, the Winnipeg Jets are just one point behind the Kings in the hunt for the final wild card spot.
At this point of the season every game and every point is important. However, adding a little more emphasis to the Kings upcoming games is the fact that six of their remaining 13-games will be against teams within five points of them in the standings.
Any slip up could drop the Kings right back out of the playoff picture.
The Wild Wild West
The standings in the West are ridiculously close and the teams in the hunt, in most cases, will all face each other at least once before the end of the season. This will only add to the drama that comes with the sprint to the finish line.
The Canucks and Calgary Flames sit in the number two and three spots in the Pacific. However, depending on how things play out over the next three weeks, both teams could very well be on the outside looking in come time for playoffs. A team like the San Jose Sharks, currently outside of the playoffs by six-points, could catch fire down the stretch and accompanied with some losses by other teams, could end up as a number three seed in the Pacific.
The Kings could benefit from how the schedule is set up. As long as games between teams in the hunt are decided in regulation and don’t end up being a three-point night, the Kings will benefit. But things have to be decided in regulation, a game where both teams get points is a loss for the Kings in the long run.
In the final weeks, thing are going to get messy, rivalries will get a new chapter and teams will be left on the outside looking in. As fans, all we can do is hope for the best for our team and buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Eric received his BA in Journalism from California State University, Northridge. Eric has contributed to RinkRoyalty.com, Buffalowdown.com and California Rubber Magazine.