With a quarter of their season gone, the Kings only have 12 points.
Though Los Angeles remains the top possession team in the league thus far, they have been hit hard by low shooting percentages and inadequate goaltending. Now they need a pile of wins just to make it to the eighth seed again.
Let's look at what they need to do in the 35 games left.
The 55 point target
Quisp mentioned he thought a team would need 55 points to make the playoffs (which follows from the 94 points it usually takes in a full 82-game season). With an unusually high number of 3-point games in the West, though, it could take even more.
Here are some ways they could get there:
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Some first thoughts:
- The Kings should focus on beating out at least 6 teams right now: Colorado, Edmonton, Minnesota, Phoenix, Dallas, and Calgary.
- Though they are a better puck possession team than any of those clubs, they can't count on any of their rivals falling out of the picture in this streak-distorted short season. They need to take care of their own business.
- This Edmonton and Calgary and back-to-back is more important than I thought. Calgary is in the top ten for puck possession thus far, too.
- Anaheim isn't as strong as their record suggests (as Boudreau knows), and their shooting luck won't hold forever -- but they've banked so many points it would take a massive slide to fall out of a playoff spot.
- Detroit is such a strong team, I'm betting they'll make it too.
- I'd really feel safer with 57 points or more.
One final note: the Kings went 13-5-3 (.690 W%) in the final 21 games last season, after the Jeff Carter trade. At that point, they were as strong a puck possession club as they are now. But Quick was stopping pucks at a normal rate, the defense was fully healthy, and Kopitar was 100%.
That means Quick and Bernier need to be sharp going forward, the young defense has to keep holding the line, and veterans have to start scoring.
I think they can do it. Do you?