The Kings are last place right now in the Pacific Division. They also happen to be right on the bubble of a playoff spot, 9th place in the Western Conference. You might be asking yourself, “What the frack?” The fact is that the Pacific Division is the tightest division in the NHL right now. The Northwest Division used to hold this title, but they’ve never seen parity quite like this.
With Quick’s stunning 40 save shutout against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Kings earned their 31st win of the season and have 65 points on the year. They notched their 4th win of a 10 game road trip and moved to 4-0-2 on the trip. They’re 7-0-2 in their last 9 games.
While they’re certainly on a great streak, scoring is still in demand. Winning 1-0 against an offensive dynamo like Philly shows they have what it takes to squeak out those crucial 1-goal games, but they’d love some scoring support. The streak won’t take any emphasis off obtaining a goal-scorer heading toward the trade deadline.
Although the Kings sit behind all 4 of their Pacific Division foes, the margin is stunningly slim. Let’s look at the separation of points between each division leader and division bottom-dweller:
Northeast Division – Boston, 69 points; Ottawa, 44. Difference: 25
Atlantic Division – Philadelphia, 77; NY Islanders, 47. Difference: 30
Southeast Division – Tampa Bay, 73; Florida, 55. Difference: 18
Central Division – Detroit, 74; St. Louis, 57. Difference: 17
Northwest Division – Vancouver, 81; Edmonton, 40. Difference: 41
Pacific Division – Dallas, 68; Los Angeles, 65. Difference: 3
Three. Three measly points separate the division leading Stars from the division basement in Los Angeles. The next closest division is the Central who are separated by 17. We have a decent possibility of seeing the entire Pacific Division making the playoffs.
It’s even crazier when you consider this; each team in the Pacific Division is within 6 goals-for of each other:
Dallas, 159 goals-for
San Jose, 158
Los Angeles, 156
You know what else is nuts? Guess who has the best goal differential? The last place L.A. Kings!
Dallas, +1 goal
San Jose, +7
Los Angeles, +24
That’s right, the Kings have a +24 goal differential! 17 more than their closest Pacific Division foe San Jose and good enough for 2nd in the Conference. To show you how competitive the Western Conference is compared to the Eastern; the Western Conference has 4 teams with a minus goal differential, while the Eastern has 8. Not counting Tampa Bay who are even.
While these numbers might be head-scratchers, the task at hand is clear for the Kings. Win. Having the greatest goal differential, or finishing close to everyone else will be little consolation to the Kings if they fail to make the playoffs.
The hope that does spring from these numbers is the fact that the Kings aren’t far off and adding one piece, or stepping up their game, or getting some fortunate bounces, or a combination of those things could really catapult them into a playoff spot.
The rest of this road trip will really be interesting. Win or lose, with each passing game the anticipation of a trade grows in Kings fans…
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney