Last season, teams that qualified for the playoffs went 396-191-69 at home during the regular season. Of those teams, no team won fewer than 22 games while on home ice and road exceptional home records into the playoffs. Someone may want let the Los Angeles Kings know how important winning on home ice is.
The Kings currently sit in second place in the Pacific Division with 18 points and a 9-6-0 record. At first glance most would think the Kings have put together a respectable record and have grabbed a good position in the rankings through the team’s first 15 games. However, the Kings shouldn’t be happy with their spot in the standings or their record.
The Kings have played 15 games and are quickly approaching the quarter pole of the 2015-16 season. Up to this point of the season, the Kings have put together a very respectable 4-1-0 record when on the road. But when at Staples Center, the Kings have come up short. In ten games in Los Angeles, which is 66 percent of the team’s games so far, the Kings have grabbed an embarrassing 5-5-0 record.
While only the Vancouver Canucks sit above the Kings in the Pacific Division, the Kings could have not only leap frogged Vancouver but likely distanced themselves from their division rival if they had taken advantage of a favorable schedule to start the season.
Trouble Out Of The Gate
The start of a new season is a great time for any team to grab some points that might not be available late in the season. Teams are still meshing and shaking off the rust which gives other teams an opportunity to steal some points from teams they might not beat later in the season. This season the Kings might be the team getting points stolen from them.
The Kings opened the season with five games at home. The first three games of that season-opening home stand were a disaster for Los Angeles. The Kings were outscored 12-2 which led to a 0-3-0 record to start the new season. Luckily the Kings were able to salvage their first extended stay at home by winning the next two games, putting together a home record of 2-3-0 to start the season.
Old Habits Die Hard
After opening the season with five games at home, the Kings went on a bit of run to turn their record around. The Kings went 6-1-0 in their next seven games to put their slow start behind them. Wins on the road against San Jose, St. Louis, Edmonton and Winnipeg coupled with two wins at home against Nashville and Carolina had most thinking the Kings were back to their old form. Then the Kings returned home from their last away game in St. Louis.
The Kings started off yet another five game home stand against the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets, which the Jackets won 3-2. Next up, the Kings were able to avoid another let down and beat the Florida Panthers 4-1. And most recently, the Kings dropped a 3-2 decision to the Arizona Coyotes. Three very winnable games where the Kings only won one and grabbed two of a possible six points.
Now the Kings find themselves in a very similar situation, they have put together a 1-2-0 record and have two games remaining to salvage another extended stay at home. The final two games wont be a cake walk for the Kings either as they will play host to John Tavares and the New York Islanders and a youthful Edmonton Oilers team.
Division Rivals Taking Advantage
Nothing is more important than winning at home. Winning at home can carry a team into the playoffs and can even carry that team deep into the post season. Taking home ice even further is beating your division rivals on home ice. This is a possible four point swing for the teams involved, you grab two points while keeping two points away from a team your fighting for a playoff spot with. All while your home crowd wills you to victory.
This hasn’t been the case for the Kings to start the season.
In four home games against Pacific Division rivals, the Kings have gone 0-4-0. Not only has Los Angeles lost those games, but they haven’t been able to force games into extra time and grab a loser point in either overtime or the shootout. That’s eight points gone to other teams in the division and not the Kings.
Now the Kings have zero home games remaining against the Coyotes, who grabbed two wins at Staples Center, and three games in Arizona. The Canucks, who have won one game at Staples, now have an even split of two games in Vancouver and two games in Los Angeles remaining on their schedule. While the Sharks, who opened the season with a win at Staples Center, also dropped the ball at home and allowed the Kings to even the series at one game a piece where both teams have won on the road.
Beating division rivals on home ice can make the difference between a team qualifying for the playoffs and getting an early vacation. It would be unfortunate if those two loses to the Coyotes at Staples Center are the deciding factor in the Kings qualifying for the playoffs or getting a reservation at a local golf course.
Time To Salvage The Record
First off, the King have to salvage their current home stand and beat the Islanders and Oilers. Another five game home stand where the result is a sub .500 record is unacceptable for a team that is supposed to be a Stanley Cup contender.
Second, the Kings need to right the ship overall and regain that home ice advantage. Luckily for Los Angeles there are still 31 games to be played at Staples Center, and winning the majority of those games will put this slow start behind them. However, like mentioned above, all of last year’s playoff teams won at least 22 games on home ice last season, that doesn’t leave much room for error in Los Angeles.
Eric received his BA in Journalism from California State University, Northridge. Eric has contributed to RinkRoyalty.com, Buffalowdown.com and California Rubber Magazine.