With the loss by the Flames, the Kings have taken another step toward locking up their playoff spot and a chance to become the latest team to ride a hot streak, or hot keeper deep in the playoffs. As has been detailed extensively, the loss of Williams and Kopitar has made that harder, but hope remains alive. At the moment, only Dallas has played fewer games than the Kings (and Colorado, but they’re out of it anyway), and they’ve actually got games in hand against most of the teams they’re in the race with, and sitting fairly comfortable in the playoffs. With the Flames loss, they’ll need to win every one of their remaining games to have even a very small chance at a low seed in the playoffs.
Still, with Phoenix, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Dallas, Chicago and Nashville all vying for the final five spots the playoff race is far from done. A brief look at the above names seems to indicate a somewhat “Pacific Division” slant to the race, and indeed even San Jose isn’t so far ahead of the race that they can’t be caught. The next 4-7 games will make all the difference, and the Kings will obviously need big games from their stars to remain in strong position. Do the Kings really want home-ice advantage considering how nearly unbeatable they’ve looked away from home? Regardless of what they want, answers will be forthcoming soon.
Up next, the Kings travel to Vancouver (or honestly probably have already traveled to Vancouver) where they will attempt to clinch the season series against the Canucks. It’ll be a tight game, and one that should give some indication of how the Kings will play sans Kopitar heading into the (hopefully) playoffs.