Talk about a turnaround: a year after surprisingly fail to make the playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings are the first team in the West to guarantee their place in the postseason.
(As you likely know, the Washington Capitals were the first team to do so in the NHL.)
The Kings clinched their berth in part thanks to beating the Boston Bruins 2-1 on Saturday. The NHL congratulated Los Angeles on that feat:
As much as this is a relief for the Kings after that tough 2014-15 season, let’s of course not forget that the Kings aren’t that far removed from winning a Stanley Cup, as they won it all in 2013-14.
This isn’t to say that the Kings are done working.
The Dallas Stars are ahead of the pack as the first team in the West. The Pacific Division title also is by no means in the bag, as the San Jose Sharks and especially the Anaheim Ducks are legitimate threats to grab that banner from Los Angeles.
So, yes, maybe the Kings can take a moment to pat themselves on the back … but just a moment. The next month could have an impact on how the postseason goes, after all.
(From the Bruins’ perspective, Saturday was a setback, as their loss and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s win firmly places Boston in third place in the Atlantic.)