The Kings are running out of time to make the playoffs. There's no other way to spin it. This was not a good week, and their playoff hopes have taken a tumble. They're not out of it by any stretch, but it definitely got a lot harder. Let's just get right into it.
This Week in Games
(here's all the games involving the Pacific Division from this past week. we'll talk about the LA Kings' games in great detail, while the rest will mostly just be scores, unless there's something that really stood out about them. you'll also get links to Eric's awesome recaps which will expand on everything I'm saying in much greater detail if you missed any of them.)
Monday, March 16th
-Edmonton Oilers 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 1: Well, we can start this off with some comedy at least. The Oilers, who are quite bad if you'll recall, scored 4 goals on the Maple Leafs in the first 11 minutes of this game. This was in large part due to our old buddy Jonathan 'I've given up' Bernier letting in 3 goals on the first 4 shots he faced. Yikes.
-Los Angeles Kings 1, Arizona Coyotes 0: Speaking of teams who are not good, the Coyotes have had the tank going full steam ahead for months now, and remarkably have actually caught the Oilers for the 2nd-worst team in the league (and they're only 3 points ahead of last-place Buffalo! BUFFALO!). But I guess their hatred for the Kings overcame their desire to win the Connor McDavid Derby, because they played a surprisingly tight game in Los Angeles. Which isn't to say the Kings didn't still outplay them- they did, to the tune of a 35-25 edge in just shots-on-goal alone- but Mike Smith stood on his head and the Coyotes were more defensively engaged than I've seen them in quite some time. Luckily the Kings got a first career goal from Andy 'Waifu' Andreoff, and they were able to bounce back from their regulation loss against Nashville to pick up a much-needed two points. (recap) (gamethread)
Tuesday, March 17th
-Winnipeg Jets 5, San Jose Sharks 2: From the Of Course This Happened file, the San Jose Sharks entered what was essentially a must-win game, at least to keep their playoff hopes from dipping below "probably not a chance in hell" status, and immediately fell behind 3-0 only thirteen minutes into the game. The Jets fans serenaded them with a chant of "Who's Your Captain?", which is mildly clever I guess. Sharks fans responded by basically having an enormous freak-out on Winnipeg all over Twitter, because they are literally exactly the same thing as Kings fans (and hilariously, don't seem to ever realize it).
-St. Louis Blues 4, Calgary Flames 0: Hey, St. Louis, mind sharing whatever the hell it is you did to negate Calgary's magical-try-hard-powers with the rest of the league? Thanks guys.
-Vancouver Canucks 4, Philadelphia Flyers 1
Wednesday, March 18th
-Columbus Blue Jackets 4, Edmonton Oilers 3 (SO)
-Anaheim Ducks 3, Los Angeles Kings 2 (OT): Con- the Kings blew a lead in the 3rd period to the Ducks again. Pro: at least it was only one goal this time. Pro: the Kings got a point, at least. Con: they really needed two. So yeah, not good, not a disaster is basically the way to sum up this game. Justin Williams saved us the indignity of losing in regulation at least, converting a nice pass from Muzzin from behind the net and making a brilliant little move to put it around John Gibson and into the back of the net. But Ryan Kesler scored just 45 seconds into overtime to give the waterfowl the victory. (recap) (gamethread)
Thursday, March 19th
-San Jose Sharks 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 1
-Calgary Flames 4, Philadelphia Flyers 1
-Columbus Blue Jackets 6, Vancouver Canucks 2
-Colorado Avalanche 5, Arizona Coyotes 2
Friday, March 20th
-Anaheim Ducks 3, Colorado Avalanche 2 (OT)
Saturday, March 21st
-Columbus Blue Jackets 3, Calgary Flames 2 (OT)
-Vancouver Canucks 4, Los Angeles Kings 1: Look, do you really want to think about this game again? I sure don't. So let's do this really fast: the Kings really needed to win this game, and they lost in regulation. Tyler Toffoli did an amazingly stupid thing and it cost them. Literally the only way you can look on the bright side here is that at least Alex Burrows returned to the game following Toffoli's illegal check from behind, and that was probably the determining factor in Toffoli not facing any additional discipline from the league. Other than that, this was a disaster, in every sense of the word. (recap) (gamethread)
-Montreal Canadiens 2, San Jose Sharks 0: Well, if the Kings are really gonna miss the playoffs this year, at least they'll have some Californian company. Maybe the two teams can get together for a golf tournament? I can see the headlines now: "Sharks get out to huge edge in first 9 holes", "Sharks blow enormous lead on the back 9".
-Pittsburgh Penguins 3, Arizona Coyotes 1
-Edmonton Oilers 5, Philadelphia Flyers 4 (OT)
Sunday, March 22nd
-New York Rangers 7, Anaheim Ducks 2: The hockey gods know just how to cheer me up after last night- by having the Ducks thoroughly embarrass themselves (in game 2 of a back-to-back for the Rangers too!). Thanks, guys.
-Vancouver Canucks 3, Arizona Coyotes 1
This Week in Standings
(5v5 SAC% = score-adjusted Corsi percentage at even strength)
|Team||GP||W||L||OTL||Points||ROW||GF||GA||Diff||Home||Away||Last Week||5v5 SAC%|
|4. Los Angeles||71||34||23||14||82||32||189||179||+10||22-9-7||12-14-7||1-1-1||55.3%|
|5. San Jose||72||35||29||8||78||32||199||201||-2||17-16-5||18-13-3||1-2-0||51.0%|
|6. Edmonton [E]||72||20||39||13||53||15||172||247||-75||12-20-3||8-19-10||2-0-1||47.6%|
|7. Arizona [E]||73||21||44||8||50||16||149||242||-93||10-23-5||11-21-3||0-4-0||47.6%|
[E]: Mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
So there it is, folks. The Kings are two points back of the Flames for 3rd in the Pacific with a game-in-hand, but the Flames have the ROW tiebreaker. With the Jets pulling further ahead (as you'll see below), this is basically the only way for the Kings to get in now. Of course it would help a lot if the clock would finally strike midnight on these Cinderellas, but the Kings can't count on that. They had the definition of a middling week, going 1-1-1, and blowing an opportunity to catch the Flames (who also went 1-1-1). We'll see what happens this coming week, when both teams will play four games.
Below you'll see the Wild Card standings.
|Team||GP||W||L||OTL||Points||ROW||GF||GA||Diff||Home||Away||Last Week||5v5 SAC%|
|1. Minnesota (C)||72||40||25||7||87||37||207||181||+26||20-11-5||20-14-2||2-1-0||51.9%|
|2. Winnipeg (C)||72||37||23||12||86||30||201||189||+12||20-11-5||17-12-7||3-0-0||53.1%|
|3. Los Angeles (P)||71||34||23||14||82||32||189||179||+10||22-9-7||12-14-7||1-1-1||55.3%|
|4. Colorado (C)||71||33||26||12||78||24||191||198||-7||19-14-3||14-12-9||1-0-1||43.0%|
|5. San Jose (P)||72||35||29||8||78||32||199||201||-2||17-16-5||18-13-3||1-2-0||51.0%|
|6. Dallas (C)||72||34||28||10||78||31||224||230||-6||15-14-8||19-14-2||2-0-0||51.6%|
|7. Edmonton (P) [E]||72||20||39||13||53||15||172||247||-75||12-20-3||8-19-10||2-0-1||47.6%|
|8. Arizona (P) [E]||73||21||44||8||50||16||149||242||-93||10-23-5||11-21-3||0-4-0||47.6%|
Yeah, so as you can see, things are not looking good here. WInnipeg went 3-0-0 to put some real distance between themselves and the Kings, as they're now 4 points up. Meanwhile, the Avalanche and the Stars both had good weeks to technically maintain a pulse, but really they're probably already done (as are the Sharks, more than likely, who did not have a good week.)
This Week in #fancystats
(all stats are total attempts, not percentages. thanks to
extra skater war-on-ice.)
Kings 1, Coyotes 0
Corsi: Kings 65-Coyotes 42 (overall), Kings 52-Coyotes 30 (5v5), Kings 32-Coyotes 21 (5v5 tied)
Fenwick: Kings 47-Coyotes 31 (overall), Kings 37-Coyotes 24 (5v5), Kings 21-Coyotes 17 (5v5 tied)
LA Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Sekera/McNabb (tied, +16), Carter (+10). Worst: Shore/Muzzin (tied, +1), Greene/Andreoff (tied, +2)
ARI Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Doan (+1), Chipchura (even), Rieder/McGinn/Arcobello (tied, -1). Worst: Moss (-15), Gagner (-14), Moore (-13)
Ducks 3, Kings 2 (OT)
Corsi: Kings 52-Ducks 49 (overall), Kings 47-Ducks 35 (5v5), Kings 23-Ducks 20 (5v5 tied)
Fenwick: Ducks 37-Kings 36 (overall), Kings 33-Ducks 28 (5v5), Ducks 17-Kings 15 (5v5 tied)
LA Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Brown (+15), Gaborik (+14), Kopitar (+12). Worst: Andreoff (-7), Nolan (-5), Shore (-3)
ANA Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Fowler/Cogliano (tied, +6), Rakell (+4). Worst: Kesler (-12), Maroon/Getzlaf (tied, -11)
Canucks 4, Kings 1
Corsi: Canucks 74-Kings 61 (overall), Canucks 54-Kings 41 (5v5), Canucks 31-Kings 22 (5v5 tied)
Fenwick: Canucks 58-Kings 39 (overall), Canucks 41-Kings 22 (5v5), Canucks 26-Kings 14 (5v5 tied)
LA Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Gaborik (+6), Kopitar (even), Williams/Lewis/Brown (tied, -1). Worst: King/Carter (tied, -9), Nolan/Doughty (tied, -7)
VAN Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Weber (+13), Hamhuis (+11), H. Sedin/Matthias (tied, +10). Worst: Vrbata/Bonino (tied, -11), Higgins (-10)
Next Week in the Pacific
(this is exactly what it sounds like: the next week's schedule for all 7 Pacific Division teams. all times are pacific because, um, duh.)
|LA||@NJ (4:00)||@NYR (4:00)||-||@NYI (4:00)||-||@MIN (5:00)||-|
|ANA||-||@CBJ (4:00)||-||@BOS (4:00)||-||@NYI (10 am)||@NJ (4:00)|
|VAN||-||vs.WPG (7:00)||-||vs.COL (7:00)||-||vs.DAL (7:00)||-|
|CGY||vs.COL (6:00)||-||vs.DAL (7:00)||-||@MIN (5:00)||-||@NSH (2:00)|
|SJ||@OTT (4:30)||-||-||@DET (4:30)||-||@PHI (10 am)||@PIT (4:30)|
|EDM||vs.WPG (6:30)||-||vs.COL (5:00)||-||vs.DAL (6:30)||-||-|
|ARI||-||@DET (4:30)||-||@BUF (4:00)||-||@PIT (10 am)||-|
Okay, so here's where the depth of the Kings' challenge becomes clear: their upcoming schedule is absolutely brutal. Over the next eight days, they'll play five games, all on the road, against the Devils, Rangers, Islanders, Wild, and Blackhawks. Four of those five teams are all likely headed to the playoffs, with only the Devils out of the mix. To say this is their most important stretch of the season is probably an understatement. The good news is things get a little better for the Kings after that: they come home, get two days off, then play very bad Colorado & Edmonton teams at home. So if they can get through this road trip with some level of success- let's say somewhere between 6-8 out of the 10 available points?- they should still be in the race. But if they have an average or worse road trip, things may start looking dire.
The other good news for the Kings is that Calgary's schedule is packed too: they'll play four games this coming week as well, with Colorado (who sucks) and Dallas (who are probably a better team than Calgary, but since when does that mean anything) at home, then tougher road games in Minnesota and Nashville to close things out. Here's hoping for a huge losing streak!
The other teams in the Pacific are pretty much irrelevant to us now, but how about that Arizona-Buffalo game on Thursday? If the Coyotes can manage to lose that one, suddenly what looked like a given- the Sabres finishing 30th overall- isn't one anymore! Greatest tank battles, indeed!
So that's all I've got for you this week. Tomorrow night is a big, must-win game for the Kings, and it also happens to be taking place in my backyard, so I'll be there live to witness what will hopefully be a dominating Kings win. See you next time.