The defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings basically experienced a worst-case scenario situation on Monday night, aside from the fact that they avoided major injuries.
As detailed here, the Chicago Blackhawks pummeled them in a 4-1 game that more or less fit that score.
Scoreboard watching won’t provide the Kings with any solace tonight, either, as the Calgary Flames squeaked by the Dallas Stars by a score of 5-3 while the Vancouver Canucks strengthened their grip on the Pacific Division’s second spot by beating the St. Louis Blues 4-1. Yup, that’s pretty much the worst set of results the Kings could have asked for.
Here’s how the most relevant races look to the West bubble teams at the moment. Let’s exclude the Canucks and their 93 standings points for the sake of simplicity:
Calgary Flames (third Pacific spot): 91 points with five games left, 38 regulation/OT wins
Minnesota Wild (top wild card): 95 points with six games left, 40 ROW
Winnipeg Jets (second wild card): 90 points with six games left, 32 ROW
Los Angeles Kings: 88 points with six games left, 35 ROW
No doubt about it, tonight’s four-point swing hurts the Kings and greatly improves the Flames’ outlook. Let’s take a look at remaining schedules for the Flames, Jets and Kings to get a better idea of what to expect going forward:
Flames’ remaining schedule
Thursday: at St. Louis
Saturday: at Edmonton
April 7: vs. Arizona
April 9: vs. Los Angeles
April 11: at Winnipeg
Jets’ remaining schedule
Tuesday: vs. Rangers
Saturday: vs. Vancouver
April 6: at Minnesota
April 7: at St. Louis
April 9: at Colorado
April 11: vs. Calgary
Kings’ remaining schedule
Thursday: vs. Edmonton
Saturday: vs. Colorado
April 6: at Vancouver
April 7: at Edmonton
April 9: at Calgary
April 11: vs. San Jose
Interesting stuff, huh? As you can see from the italicized games, the Flames face both the Jets and Kings before the season is over, so feel free to say that Calgary “controls its destiny” the most of these three teams. Considering the way it all plays out, Jets vs. Flames and Kings vs. their hated rivals the San Jose Sharks could both be season-ending games with huge stakes.
It’s all a reminder that today’s action delivered a huge blow to Los Angeles’ playoff hopes, yet tomorrow is another day. (And so on.)
In other words, buckle up.