With their fading playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the LA Kings have entered “must-win” territory.
It wasn’t that long ago that the LA Kings and their fans had visions of making the playoffs dancing in their heads, but it sure seems like it was.
Since March 1st, the Kings have gone 6-10-2, including two crushing two-game series sweeps to their hated rivals, the San Jose Sharks. During this period of less than stellar play, LA has sunk in the standings while both the Sharks and the Arizona Coyotes have gone ahead of the Kings in the race for the fourth and final playoff spot in the NHL West Division. In fact, the Coyotes currently occupy that spot and are seven points ahead of the Kings.
With only 18 games left to play in the regular season, and a lot of ground to make up, the LA Kings now have their backs up against the wall. Coming off an inspiring, come-from-behind win Wednesday night against the Arizona Coyotes, the Kings absolutely have to keep that momentum rolling.
This Friday and Saturday night, the team will travel to San Jose to play the Sharks for the last time in the regular season. If they hope to catch the Sharks, the Kings will need to take at least three of the four points available in this series. An added caveat here is both St. Louis and Arizona have tough two-game series’s this weekend (versus Minnesota and Vegas, respectively). If LA can take two victories and St. Louis along with Arizona falter this weekend, the Kings are right back in the playoff race.
The road doesn’t get any easier from there. After the San Jose series, the Vegas Golden Knights will be visiting the STAPLES Center for two games. The LA Kings head to the Rocky Mountains for two games against the Colorado Avalanche – a team that, much like Vegas, is considered to be favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
To make matters worse, the Kings only have three games left against Arizona and one against the St. Louis Blues – two of the teams they need to overtake to get to that last playoff spot. With limited opportunities to directly take points from teams they are trying to catch, the Kings might also need some help in the form of a cold streak from the Coyotes, Sharks, and Blues.
Want to add some more drama to the mix?
The NHL Trade Deadline is on Monday, April 12th. Names like Alex Iafallo, Dustin Brown, Andreas Athanasiou, and Jonathan Quick are rumored to be available for the right price. The results of this weekend’s series versus the Sharks will go a long toward determining if any combination of these players will have potentially played their last games in an LA Kings uniform.
At this point, there can be no more excuses and certainly very little room for error. San Jose could very well become the LA Kings playoff Thermopylae, although ideally, the Kings rewrite history and win the battle. Either way, we will know by Monday whether there is still playoff hope, or will it be time to #playthekids?