Kings Have 21 Games to Get 18 Points

The Los Angeles Kings are 37-20-4 going into the final 21 games of the season. Their schedule doesn't especially help them or hurt them, which is as it should be. They do travel more miles than pretty much everyone, but since I prefer them on the road, this doesn't bother me. They're young. They can take it.

14 of the 21 games are against conference rivals who are fighting for position and/or their lives. There are three mini three-game "series", against Dallas, Nashville and Colorado, the latter two of which will go a long way toward settling the Kings position in the 4-7 log-jam. Against Nashville and Colorado, the Kings also need wins to prevail in any head-to-head tie-breaker. The Kings have already lost the season series against Calgary, and tied Detroit. Here is a breakdown of all the remaining games:

96 points is almost certainly going to be enough to get the Kings into the playoffs, which would require a record of 8-11-2. 93 points, despite the prevailing wisdom that it won't be enough this year, may yet end up being the cut-off, as teams start bumping each other off. My guess is, the 8th place team will have 95 points, and the Kings will finish with 103 points, 4th place, which means they would open the playoffs at home, likely against one of Colorado, Phoenix or Vancouver. Final standings? How about:

  1. San Jose
  2. Chicago (tougher schedule than SJS)
  3. Vancouver (I think they will beat out Colorado for 1st in the NW)
    Los Angeles
  4. Colorado
  5. Nashville
  6. Phoenix
  7. Detroit (trending up)
    Dallas (schedule is tough, and they're old; also it would be boring for them to make it)
    Calgary (tougher schedule than Detroit, and slightly tougher than Dallas)
    Anaheim (they need 28 points in 20 games, or 13-5-2; I don't think they can do it)
  8. St. Louis
  9. Columbus
  10. Edmonton

Which would give us a first round of:

  • San Jose v. Detroit
  • Chicago v. Phoenix
  • Vancouver v. Nashville
  • Los Angeles v. Colorado/

...from which I pick, Detroit, Chicago, Vancouver and LA. Giving us:

  • Chicago v. Detroit
  • Vancouver v. LA/

...although San Jose could un-choke, in which case it would be:

  • San Jose v. LA
  • Chicago v. Vancouver/

Beyond which, what I want to happen and what I think will happen start to diverge dramatically. So I'll plead the fifth.