Just 17 games into the 48 game NHL regular season schedule, the Los Angeles Kings are nightly observers of the tight western conference playoff picture. After each of their last two wins, the Kings have pushed themselves into a top-eight seed, only to fall out the next day following wins or shootout losses from other conference opponents. This is the kind of intense shuffling we see at the end of a normal season schedule, highlighting that every point is crucial even at this point.
There is a neat website called sportsclubstats.com that uses high-level statistical analysis to calculate playoff odds based on nightly outcomes. Currently, the Kings are projected to have a 76.3% chance of making the postseason. This would rise above 80% were the Kings to win tonight against Detroit. It also projects that the Kings need at least 39 points in their final 31 games to have a 100% chance of making the playoffs. That is the equivalent of a 18-10-3 record.
It is clear the Kings must sustain their current good play if they want to qualify for the playoffs, but a few factors paint an optimistic picture. The Kings heavy road schedule at the beginning of the season means it will be playing a lot at STAPLES Center the remainder of the year, where they are currently 4-1-1. Los Angeles is also winners of four in a row, and six of its last seven games. As displayed last postseason, when this team catches fire, it can be hard to stop.
For those who are standings-watching as much as Head Coach Darryl Sutter admitted in this post by Kings Insider Jon Rosen, sportsclubstats.com offers exact, up-to-date information you cannot get anywhere else. With many important conference matchups every night, keep checking to see how the Kings must play the rest of the year to get into the west’s top-eight.