The Kings have been getting a bit of luck lately. Both Phoenix and San Jose have endured a spate of losses recently, helping out the Kings’ playoff hopes. The Kings have been doing their share as well, winning 3 of 4 since the arrival of Jeff Carter. However, the Kings do not have an easy schedule down the stretch and it will take a few different things coming together (in my opinion) for them to slide into a spot in the playoffs.
Road Warriors: The Kings play 10 of their remaining 17 on the road. Players talk about the road as a great way to build camaraderie and gel as a team. Yet, the fact remains that the odds favor the home team and the Kings road record leaves something to be desired (13-10-8). The Kings will have to buck the trend if they plan on playing some extra games. And I don’t mean for the El Segundo Softball team.
Protect this house: With just 7 contests at home, the Kings will have to take as many of those games as possible. The Kings home record (17-13-4) won’t be a good enough pace. Overtime and shootout losses won’t do enough good at this point for the Kings to squeak in. I just think about last season where the Kings had a 7 or so game home-stand and lost all but one. Then I cry myself to sleep…
Unlucky at love: We all know about Dustin Penner’s unfortunate personal life, but perhaps as the old saying goes the Kings will be lucky at
cards hockey. The point of this very forced segue is that the Kings don’t have a lot of 4 point games to benefit their situation down the stretch. Let’s make the dangerous assumption that the Ducks are too far behind to make it. That would remove them from being a direct competitor for a playoff spot. The real 4 point games are those against San Jose, Dallas, Phoenix, Chicago, Colorado, and Calgary. Nashville and above are too far ahead. The Kings have a total of 5 games against those opponents. Out of 17, that’s not very many opportunities for a 4 point swing. I’m sure the Kings are focusing on themselves, but their fans need to hope for some losses from the direct competition.
Shark hunters: 3 of those 5 games with 4 point implications are against the Sharks. That’s a big chunk of points coming from a big division rival. The Kings hold a record of 1-1-1 against the Sharks this season, so they aren’t outmatched. The Sharks have been struggling down the stretch and made a swap with Colorado to get bigger and meaner at the trade deadline. The Kings and Sharks haven’t seen each other since December, but we know the Sharks always come to play when it’s against the Kings. Expect a strong effort from San Jose and predictable chants of “Beat L.A.” from their MIDI “Rock N’ Roll Part 2″ loving fans.
Quisp over at Jewels from the Crown predicted that 93 points might be enough to make it into the playoffs. He said a record of 11-6-1 would do it for the Kings. That was prior to the Kings victory over the Ducks, so make it 10-6-1. Just judging from the scant number of overtime losses, it’s troublesome. The Kings’ season pace suggests they will go 8-6-3 over their final 16 games.
I’ve said several times this season that the Kings habit of going into overtime will cost them. If Quisp is right, the Kings will have to finish 2 of those games in regulation in order to reach the estimated number of points. They’re close, but their season pace is not good enough alone. They will have to be better.
Obviously this is a lot of prognosticating and teams go on hot and cold streaks throughout the season. However, this is what we’re looking at. These are the pertinent factors when it comes to the Kings’ chances of making the playoffs. Get out your rosary beads, voodoo dolls, and shrunken heads.
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