A regulation loss tonight in Anaheim and the Los Angeles Kings will once again fall outside the playoff picture in the Western Conference.
Currently, the defending Stanley Cup champions are level in points with Calgary but hold the tie-breaker with a game in hand. The Flames, however, have more regulation/overtime wins.
That’s how tight things are as the Kings kick off a stretch of games that could very well decide whether they avoid becoming the first defending champ since Carolina (2006-07) to miss the playoffs.
Of the Kings’ next seven opponents, only the New Jersey Devils are on track to miss the postseason. The Rangers, Wild, and Blackhawks are three of the hottest teams in the league.
While it’s true the Kings have an easier stretch to finish their schedule…
… they’ll still, in all likelihood, need to win six or seven of their final 13 to qualify. And as we saw yesterday in Boston, and see on a lot of nights, there are no automatic wins in the NHL.
Such is the extreme parity in the league that the Kings are simultaneously in real danger of missing the playoffs and, also, an absolute threat to win the Stanley Cup.
“Every year is difficult. It’s not easy,” goalie Jonathan Quick said, per the Associated Press. “It’s a tough league and there’s a lot of parity in both conferences. So I don’t think this year is any more difficult than previous years. And it certainly isn’t any easier.”