Late season collapse sweepstakes: 2012 Leafs vs. 2006 Kings

Has there ever been a bigger late-season collapse than this Leafs one? | ProHockeyTalk

Since Feb. 6 – when the Leafs were 28-19-6 and on the way to their first playoff appearance since 2003 – they’ve gone 5-17-3 without a single victory at the Air Canada Centre. They haven’t just lost games either — they’ve lost them spectacularly. Five of them by four goals or more. One 8-0. [...] There have been similar, and arguably worse, collapses in other sports. The 2011 Red Sox lost 18 of their final 24 to blow a nine-game lead over the Rays, topping it off with a blown save in the final game of the season. The 2007 Mets blew a seven-game lead with 17 games left. The 1993 Dolphins started 9-2 and finished 0-5 to miss the playoffs.

But what about NHL late-season collapses that resulted in teams missing the playoffs? The 2006-07 Oilers were 28-24-4 on Feb. 11 and went 4-19-3 down the stretch, but they didn’t fall out of a playoff spot. The 2002-03 Penguins fell apart, but their fall started in January, so calling it a "late-season" collapse is a bit of a stretch.

Let's consider the 2005-2006 Los Angeles Kings. This was the Andy Murray team that was one of the best Kings team in franchise history for much of the season, before the wheels fell off, leading to the firing of everyone and the dawn of the Lombardi era.

  • On January 23, the Kings were 30-18-3, 4th in the West, 4 points out of 1st in the conference.
  • On March 7, 2006, they were 35-23-5, tied for 6th, 2 points out of 4th in the conference.
  • On April 13, 2006, they were 40-35-5, in 10th place, 8 points out of 8th, mathematically eliminated from the playoffs with two games to go.
  • (They won the last two games of the season though. Woo.)
  • The Leafs' run has been 5-17-3 since their 53rd game. The '06 Kings managed 10-17-2 from their 51st game until they were done losing and had completely destroyed themselves.
  • The key run for the Kings began on March 11, at which point they were in 6th, a point out of 5th, 5 points out of 4th, with 17 games left.
  • They went 2-10 over their next 12 games.
  • The worst this season's Leafs managed over any 12 games of their collapse has been 2-9-1, from February 7 to March 3.
  • That's not quite as bad as the Kings (but close).
  • And it happened a month earlier than the Kings' cratering, so the Kings get bonus points for being worse later in the season.
The '06 Kings' collapse was not appreciably worse than that of the '12 Leafs, but it was of the same magnitude, and with the same result.

[note to Leafs' fans: six years later, and the only Kings player left from that team is Dustin Brown; if you look at the entire Kings' reserve list from that season, the only ones who are still Kings are Brown and three prospects who hadn't played a pro game yet, Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Quick and Scott Parse.]
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