Is it just me or does every game for the past few weeks have an intense playoff atmosphere? Seriously, especially the last couple against the Ducks and the Flames, the games have been intense, hard-checking, and true emotional rollercoasters. And the best news? The Kings have been in each of the games, and pulled out three of four points in those two games. Do they still need to tighten up their game, and put some more points on the board? Of course, but they’re putting together a good string of results now, and the playoffs loom large.
Maybe the most important thing to focus on is the fact that these high-intensity games are providing a chance to test the mettle of some of our youngsters. Sure, Doughty and Johnson, and Kopitar and Brown and Simmonds and Quick all got a taste of pressure in the playoffs last season, but this is yet another exposure to the kind of intense play that they will face when (if) they make the playoffs this year. As we all know, experience = good, so now the questions facing the Kings are several:
- Can Moller step up? If the Kings are going to want to continue their strong run, they’ll need Oscar Moller to show up from Manchester and step in for Justin Williams. His game isn’t quite the same as Williams, but if Moller puts up some points, and contributes to a strong run, this could be his chance to solidify a role on the big squad. For those wondering, Williams is set to be out 3-4 weeks with his dislocated shoulder.
- Do the Kings really want home-ice advantage? Since the start of March, the Kings have gone 4-0 at home, and 2-2-2 away from home. If the Kings don’t get that worked out, perhaps it would be better if they get to play the majority of their playoff games in the hostile atmosphere of their opponent. We’ll take a look at who their opponents may be in the coming weeks, but for now suffice it to ask. Do they want to get that #4 (or #3) seed?
- Where did the offense go? Certainly this question has been asked before, but the Kings will need Kopitar, Penner, Brown, and the rest to step it up. They’ve scored a combined total of 2 goals in the last three games, and while Quick has (for the most part) played quite well, it’s not a rate of scoring that will maintain the record they need to make the playoffs. According to Quisp over at Jewels from the Crown, the Kings will need a 4-5 record over the final 9 games to likely make the playoffs. While that seems to indicate that they’re in a good spot to make it, they’ll need to score at a rate higher than .66 goals per game if they want to accomplish it.