While the LA Kings‘ playoff odds are still reasonably good – MoneyPuck has them at an 86.4% chance to make the playoffs – the sting of a bad loss to, frankly, a bad team in the Seattle Kraken on Monday is a little unnerving.
Especially considering what lies ahead.
Going into the three-game stretch against Chicago and two against Seattle, it was a great run of games to stockpile as many points away for the end of the month and into April.
Instead, the Kings took three of a possible six points and are just two points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the Pacific Division entering Wednesday’s showdown in Alberta.
And it’s not just Wednesday’s game against the Oilers. Really up until the April 10 game against Minnesota, who is all but guaranteed to make the postseason, the Kings will go head-to-head with divisional opponents in four out of the next five games. Beating Edmonton can create some space between second and third place, while beating Calgary can help to gain ground on chasing first place.
By the same token, a bad stretch of games can have the Kings in hot water.
The Flames do have three games in hand on the Kings, though, so it might be impossible to catch them at this point. Never say never, I suppose.
Here is LA’s schedule heading into that all-important April 10 date when they will have just two games remaining against teams currently occupying a playoff spot.
LA Kings Schedule
- 3/30 @ EDM
- 3/31 @ CGY
- 4/2 @ WPG
- 4/4 vs CGY
- 4/7 vs EDM
As noted, the Kings will have two games in Alberta against Edmonton and Calgary, a back-to-back, mind you, before a trip to Winnipeg against the streaking Jets. From there, Todd McLellan’s group will return home for a two-game set against the Flames and Oilers.
Edmonton has won seven straight games at Rogers Place, but the Kings did beat them 5-1 on their home ice back on December 5. The Oilers returned the favor in Los Angeles in mid-February with a 5-2 victory at Crypto.com Arena.
The Kings have only played Calgary once this season, dropping a 3-2 contest in LA back in early December.
Now for a quick look at the Oilers’ upcoming schedule over that same stretch.
- 3/30 vs LAK
- 4/1 vs STL
- 4/3 @ ANA
- 4/5 @ SJS
- 4/7 @ LAK
- 4/9 vs COL
Obviously, winning all five games would be the best outcome for the Kings. Will it happen? Probably not.
So, if the Kings do the bare minimum and go 1-3-1 (84 points) over the next five, Edmonton can catch them just by going 2-3-1 (84 points) over their next six games. If the Kings go 2-2-1 (86 points), the Oilers would need to go 3-2-1 (86 points). And if the Kings can somehow go 3-1-1 (88 points), Edmonton would have to be nearly perfect, going 4-1-1 (88 points).
For whatever reason, Los Angeles has played much better on the road this season, carrying an 18-9-5 record on visiting ice.
These next three games are crucial, and the Kings can get off on the right foot with a regulation win in Edmonton on Wednesday. Of course, getting some bodies back into the lineup would go a long way toward reaching those goals.