Other than Chicago, all of the team remaining in the playoff picture have three games remaining. As such, this seems like a good time to take a look at the schedule that remains and try to determine where the Kings might end up, and where they might wish they were ending up. The teams we’ll take a look at are the Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, Nashville Predators, Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks.
First the Chicago Blackhawks. The ‘hawks are the only team currently in a playoff spot with four games remaining in their schedule. They’re matching up against Montreal tonight, before taking on St. Louis tomorrow and closing the season out with a home and home series against the Red Wings. Keeping in mind the fact that the Blackhawks are only 1 point ahead of the Flames, and 3 points ahead of the Stars, they are the most vulnerable team in the West to falling out of the playoffs. Their game against Montreal is against a team trying desperately to stay ahead of the Rangers in the #6 seed (to avoid the dangerous Flyers and Capitals) and the games against the Red Wings are obviously going to be a challenge, especially with the Red Wings motivated by hatred of their rivals AND a realistic shot at the #2 seed in the West. In these games I can see the Blackhawks only managing a couple points, but they’ll need probably four of the remaining eight if they want to be comfortable in a playoff spot.
Remaining Games: @Montreal, vs. St. Louis, @Detroit, vs. Detroit
Next up, the Anaheim Ducks. Full disclosure here, I hate the Ducks. I hope they lose all of their games, and fall out of the playoff race. Maybe forever. That said, it looks to me like this will be the first year that both Southern California teams are able make the playoffs. The Ducks have three games remaining, against San Jose at home, and then a back to back against the Los Angeles Kings. It’ll be an interesting stretch run for the Ducks, and the back to back to close out the season may be of ultimate importance, determining not only the seeding, but potentially even the possibility of the Ducks making the playoffs. I see the Ducks falling to the Sharks, and needing at least one win against the Kings if they want to make the playoffs. Otherwise, they could very easily fall just short and extend the streak of one-or-the-other for one more year.
Remaining Games: vs. San Jose, vs. Los Angeles, @Los Angeles
The Nashville Predators have a relatively easy three games remaining, at home against Atlanta, at home against Columbus and away against St. Louis. None of those three teams are heading to the playoffs, and while people like to play up the importance of “spoilers,” there’s no team more difficult than a team scrapping for points and a playoff berth. That urgency just isn’t there with non-playoff teams. I see the Predators taking at least 4 of those 6 points, with at least 99 points, possibly as many as 101 if they manage three straight wins. That means of the teams in the hunt for the moment, it looks to me that the Predators have perhaps the easiest road, and if I were a betting man, I’d be putting my money there. It’s also pretty likely that the Predators will gain at least one seed, if not two, and end up in the #5 or #4 seed.
Remaining Games: vs. Atlanta, vs. Columbus, @St. Louis
The Phoenix Coyotes have the Kings (a hopeful loss), and back to back against the Sharks. That’s a rough draw, especially since the Sharks are going to be battling Detroit for the #2 seed in the conference, so are unlikely to sit back and relax too much. They could feasibly lose all three of those games. Even if they manage a couple points out of those games, they are certainly vulnerable to being passed by the Nashville Predators, and even falling into the #7 or #8 seed if things all fall exactly right (or wrong, if you’re a Coyotes fan). To be fair, I think the Coyotes are unlikely to miss the playoffs entirely, although it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Either the Kings or the Coyotes are going to secure their spot in the game against each other, but in all likelihood, they’ll both manage to make the playoffs. However, if they drop all six points in their final three games, they’re likely looking at an early match up against the Canucks, Sharks or Red Wings.
Remaining Games: @Los Angeles, vs. San Jose, @San Jose
Finally, the Los Angeles Kings. Yea so this is obviously a Kings blog, and we here at Rink Royalty are definitely fans of the Kings. That said, the Kings have a relatively tough road ahead, specifically because the three games remaining are against teams that are all fighting for a playoff spot. Of course it doesn’t help that they’ve been suffering some serious injuries of late. Those games will be season defining, and while playoffs still look likely, seeding is still very much up in the air. If the Kings manage to beat the Coyotes, something they should be able to do at home, they’ll be in good shape to avoid one of the top three seeds. Of course the final two games against the Ducks will be very intense games, and should be very enjoyable to watch (though more so if the Kings are able to pull out a win).
Remaining Games: vs. Phoenix, @Anaheim, vs. Anaheim
Tags: Anaheim Ducks Atlanta Thrashers Calgary Flames Chicago Blackhawks Columbus Blue Jackets Dallas Stars Detroit Red Wings Los Angeles Kings Montreal Canadians Nashville Predators Philadelphia Flyers Phoenix Coyotes San Jose Sharks St. Louis Blues Vancouver Canucks Washington Capitals