The Royal Three comes around every week and will examine three “Things to Watch” in the coming week of LA Kings hockey. Tune in each week and find out what you can expect to hear from the City of Angels.
1. Play to Your Level, Not Your Opponent’s
This year’s incarnation of the Kings has been much maligned for their play against the league’s cellar-dwellers. The Kings, who at times have looked like a team that could take the West by storm, have a tendency to play their best hockey against the league’s elite. The corollary to that however, is that they quite regularly play down to the level of the league’s worst.
LA’s records versus the worst in each division (the Pacific omitted) look like this:
Not exactly impressive. In games versus each division’s last place team, the Kings went a combined 2-5-2, picking up 6 of a possible 18 points; I think we can all agree that an extra 12 points would have gone a long way in helping LA see the post-season this year.
In the next week LA will face Calgary, Edmonton, and Minnesota, three teams that they should be able to beat handily. Their success in the next week however, will all depend on if they play to the level they are capable of, or if they play down to the level of their opponents.
2. A Wonderful Road Trip to Finish Things Off
What better way to finish off the season than a Canadian road swing? The Kings played in Vancouver last night, losing 1-0 to the Canucks, and will play games in Calgary, Edmonton, and Minnesota between now and Saturday; that’s four games in six days.
This trip is another strange one. A Canadian/northern swing is far from unusual, but the Kings go West-to-East, rather than playing their way back home. The trip ends with a Edmonton-Minnesota back-to-back set that will have an arrival time in Minnesota at 3 a.m. (if not later). That one really, really doesn’t sit well with Sutter, who said, “That’s illegal.’’
LA has been fairly successful on the road this year, going 16-13-8, but with a loss in Vancouver last night they may need to run the table in the remaining three games. It won’t be an easy task but the Kings will need to battle through the travel, such is the life of an NHL player.
3. 95 Points
It has long been speculated that 95 points would be the threshold for making the playoffs this year in the Western Conference. The Kings currently sit at 86 points after 76 games, meaning they will need to pick up 9 points in their final 6 games. Sports Club Stats breaks down LA’s playoff chances based on record, should the Kings manage to get 95 points or more:
If the Kings can secure wins over Calgary, Edmonton (twice), Minnesota, and split the home and home with San Jose, they will finish with 96 points; isn’t the Western Conference fun?? Things don’t get any closer than this and it should be fun – read: stressful – to watch.