LA Kings: Three things to watch over final eight games

LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) /
1 of 3
LA Kings Gabe Vilardi
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports) /

The LA Kings are likely to miss the postseason, but there are still reasons to watch this team until the very end. Here are three.

Despite Friday night’s thrilling comeback victory in which the LA Kings tied and took the lead in the final five-plus minutes of the game, they are still eight points back of the St. Louis Blues with eight games to go. The Kings’ skid coincided with the Blues’, but the latter has since turned the jets on in the home stretch.

As for the Kings, they’ll have a whole offseason to evaluate the talent that played over this 56-game slate and determine a course of action in terms of free agents and trades to target. But over this final eight-game stretch to close out the year, here are three things to monitor.

1. Quinton Byfield’s development

After a very impressive NHL debut on Wednesday, Quinton Byfield was not as noticeable on Friday night. That’s not to say that he played poorly, but the Kings struggled to get anything going with all the penalties they committed. As a result, the momentum was just never there until the Lias Andersson goal jump-started the team.

Byfield can play in four more games before the first year of his ELC is burned. With eight games to go, I would handle this situation by keeping the 18-year-old up with the NHL roster for the rest of the season. But we could see his games staggered to the finish line so that he still gets his four games without going over.

If the Kings decide to play Byfield in all eight games remaining, you have to wonder why they didn’t call him up earlier in the season.