The Los Angeles Kings are returning home from a five-game road trip that saw them face off against the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks. At the beginning of the trip it was a foregone conclusion that this road trip could make our break the Kings’ season.
Things started off well, the Kings went into Jersey and defeated the Devils by a score of 3-1. Then on the backend of the back-to-back series to start the trip, the Kings handled the Rangers with a convincing score of 4-2. Then the Kings finished their tour of the New York area with a 3-2 win over the Islanders.
A 3-0 start to the most crucial road trip of the season had many, including myself, thinking the Kings had flipped the switch. That infamous switch that changes the Kings from a sometimes mediocre regular season opponent to a post season juggernaut.
Rather the Kings dropped their next two games to the Wild and Blackhawks by a pair of 4-1 scores.
An optimistic start,had people thinking a possible 4-1, maybe even a 5-0, record at the end of the trip giving the Kings anywhere from 90 to 92-points and a playoff spot. Instead, the Kings return to Los Angeles with a disappointing 3-2 record, 88-points and are on the outside looking in on the playoff picture.
The Kings need to do two things from here on out.
1. Win, In Regulation.
The Kings are at Staples Center for their next two games against the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche, two teams playing for pride at this point of the season. These are four must have points, against very beatable teams. The Kings need to make up ground on teams ahead of them and these are two very winnable games where anything less than two points could mean the end of the Kings’ season.
The Kings are currently chasing the Flames, third in the Pacific Division with 91-points, and the Vancouver Canucks, second in the Pacific Division with 93-points. Luckily for the Kings, they have one game remaining against both the Flames and Canucks, along with a game in hand against the Flames.
Those two games against the Canucks and Flames are huge. The Kings need to win, giving them two points and keeping two points away from the other team. Keeping these games out of overtime and away from being a three-point night is crucial to how things will play out.
On top of those four-games, the Kings have two games remaining, one against the Oilers in Edmonton and the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center on the final day of the regular season. Imagine a must win game, against the Sharks, on the final day of the regular season to get into the playoffs.
Win all six and the Kings make their lives a lot easier, scatter in a loss or two and things are going to get complicated.
2. Scoreboard Watch
As of today, the Kings have a 51.7% chance of making the playoffs according to Sports Club Stats. That’s a 17.6% drop from the 69.3% chance they had of making the playoff before the loss to the Blackhawks and the Calgary Flames win that same night.
A loss is one thing, but nights where the Kings lose and everyone else wins mine as well be another nail in the coffin for the Kings. Like I mentioned above, the Kings percentage dropped after they lost to Chicago. But the fact that Flames grabbed two-points on top of the Kings’ lose makes that an even steeper drop for the Kings’ chances.
From now until the end of the regular season the Kings and their fans need to not only worry about what is going on with their own team, but what is happening in Calgary and Vancouver, or where ever the Flames and Canucks are that night. Because, the Kings are walking on the ice. The Kings are playing with fire. The Kings have their backs against the wall. Use any cliché you want, the Kings are running out of time and are in a crucial need for points.
Eric received his BA in Journalism from California State University, Northridge. Eric has contributed to RinkRoyalty.com, Buffalowdown.com and California Rubber Magazine.