This Week in Kings (4/6/15)

The penultimate week of the NHL season has come and gone. Are the Kings finally back in a playoff spot?

For seemingly the last eternity or so, the Kings had a bad habit of getting into a playoff spot, only to be back out of the playoffs by Monday. Of course, I write this column every Monday. So it left me with the sad responsibility of reporting, week after week, that the Kings were not in a playoff spot.

This is called foreshadowing, kids.

Let's get 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/Cole's awesome recaps which will expand on everything I'm saying in much greater detail if you missed any of them.)

Monday, March 30th

-Vancouver Canucks 4, St. Louis Blues 1

-Chicago Blackhawks 4, Los Angeles Kings 1: This was the only Kings game I actually got to watch from this past week. Lucky me. I'm not going to pretend I wasn't a wreck after this game was over; I actually thought the Kings were pretty much dead and buried, and my Twitter account was just a tad bit depressing (and melodramatic) as a result. All of that seems pretty silly now in hindsight. But, in my defense, the Kings were quite awful in this game! Holy crap they were bad. And as the cherry on top of this, uh, feces sundae, Andrej Sekera left the game and has yet to return to the lineup since. Yep, not a good night. (recap) (gamethread)

-Calgary Flames 5, Dallas Stars 3

-Edmonton Oilers 4, Colorado Avalanche 1

-Buffalo Sabres 4, Arizona Coyotes 1

Tuesday, March 31st

-Vancouver Canucks 5, Nashville Predators 4 (SO)

Wednesday, April 1st

-Anaheim Ducks 5, Edmonton Oilers 1

-San Jose Sharks 5, Colorado Avalanche 1: I think you can pinpoint this dominating showing (albeit against a very, very bad opponent) by the Sharks as the exact moment everyone furrowed their brow and said "Hmm, maybe they're not quite out of this thing after all! And look who they've got next! A home-and-home with the lowly Coyotes! Surely there's no way they get less than the full 4 points out of THOSE games!"

Thursday, April 2nd

-St. Louis Blues 4, Calgary Flames 1

-Chicago Blackhawks 3, Vancouver Canucks 1

-Los Angeles Kings 8, Edmonton Oilers 2: Uh, so this game went pretty well I think! Yeah. Look, I didn't get a chance to see this one, other than drunkenly watching the highlights on my phone and laughing uproariously. From that experience, this game was pretty great! I imagine it was even better live, though. Bottom line: the Kings went in to a virtual must-win game against a basement-dwelling team they couldn't afford to lose to, and saying they got the job done would be a hilarious understatement. It sounds easy enough, but as our friends to the north will soon teach us, it's not ALWAYS that easy... (recap) (gamethread)

Friday, April 3rd

-Colorado Avalanche 4, Anaheim Ducks 2

-San Jose Sharks 3, Arizona Coyotes 1: So far so good Sharks!

Saturday, April 4th

-Winnipeg Jets 5, Vancouver Canucks 4

-Arizona Coyotes 5, San Jose Sharks 3: Hahahahahaha. The Sharks needed to beat an awful Coyotes team twice to keep their slim playoff hopes from falling into "only if a meteor hits three cities" territory, and instead they became the first team to lose to the Coyotes in regulation since EARLY FEBRUARY. That's, like, Peak Shorks, I think.

-Calgary Flames 4, Edmonton Oilers 0

-Los Angeles Kings 3, Colorado Avalanche 1: Another must-win game for the Kings against a really bad opponent, another two points in the bank. The Kings tied a franchise record when they allowed the Avs just ten shots-on-goal through 60 minutes of regulation (they last did it in 1994 against the Sharks), so that was pretty cool. But ultimately all that mattered was the win, and the Kings got the job done once again. (recap) (gamethread)

Sunday, April 5th

No Pacific Division games.

This Week in Standings

(5v5 SAC% = score-adjusted Corsi percentage at even strength)

[E]: Mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

[X]: Clinched playoff spot.

[Y]: Clinched division title.

Team GP W L OTL Points ROW GF GA Diff Home Away Last Week 5v5 SAC%
1. Anaheim [Y] 80 50 23 7 107 42 234 221 +13 26-11-3 24-12-4 1-1-0 51.5%
2. Vancouver 79 45 29 5 95 40 229 216 +13 21-15-2 24-14-3 2-2-0 49.7%
3. Calgary 79 43 29 7 93 39 234 208 +26 21-13-5 22-16-2 2-1-0 44.2%
4. Los Angeles 78 39 25 14 92 37 212 195 +17 24-9-7 15-16-7 2-1-0 55.6%
5. San Jose 79 39 31 9 87 35 223 222 +1 19-16-5 20-15-4 2-1-0 51.6%
6. Edmonton [E] 79 23 43 13 59 18 188 272 -84 14-22-3 9-21-10 1-3-0 47.4%
7. Arizona [E] 79 24 47 8 56 19 167 262 -95 11-24-5 13-23-3 1-2-0 47.3%

After all the Kings' struggles this season, somehow they enter the final week of the year with a chance to secure home ice in the first round. They've got control of their own destiny, due to the fact that they'll play both Vancouver and Calgary during their final four games of the season. Should they win out, going 4-0-0, they would finish with exactly 100 points; on the other hand, Vancouver & Calgary both only have 3 games left and would both drop one game to the Kings, leaving them with maximum point totals of 99 and 97, respectively. They'd have to win the Vancouver game in regulation, but things are in their hands here. As unlikely as a 4-0-0 week might sound, at least they've got a shot.

Of course, it likely won't take a 4-0-0 week just to get them to third in the Pacific. They trail Calgary by just one point and have that game-in-hand, plus a head-to-head meeting. If the Kings beat the Flames in regulation, Calgary's max would be 97 points. The Kings would need 4 points out of their other three games to secure the 3rd seed in the Pacific, so obviously going 2-1-0 in the other 3 games would do it, but so would 1-0-2. And again, that's assuming Calgary wins their other two games. They probably won't have the ROW tiebreaker, however, so there's a chance 3 out of 6 points in the other 3 games wouldn't get it done.

Meanwhile, the Ducks have clinched the division, while the Sharks are basically waiting to be mathematically eliminated. To get into the playoffs they would need to win out AND have the Kings, Flames, and Jets lose every remaining game. Not very likely. RIP Sharks

Below you'll see the Wild Card standings, where the Kings will have another way to get in should they fail to pass Vancouver or Calgary.

Team GP W L OTL Points ROW GF GA Diff Home Away Last Week 5v5 SAC%
1. Minnesota (C) 78 44 26 8 96 40 223 192 +31 22-12-6 22-14-2 0-1-1 51.6%
2. Los Angeles (P) 78 39 25 14 92 37 212 195 +17 24-9-7 15-16-7 2-1-0 55.6%
3. Winnipeg (C) 78 40 26 12 92 33 222 208 +14 22-13-5 18-13-7 1-1-0 53.5%
4. San Jose (P) 79 39 31 9 87 35 223 222 -1 19-16-5 20-15-4 2-1-0 51.6%
5. Dallas (C) 79 38 31 10 86 34 248 258 -10 16-16-8 22-15-2 1-2-0 52.2%
6. Colorado (C) [E] 79 36 31 12 84 27 212 223 -11 20-15-3 16-16-9 1-3-0 42.9%
7. Edmonton (P) [E] 79 23 43 13 59 18 188 272 -84 14-22-3 9-21-10 1-3-0 47.4%
8. Arizona (P) [E] 79 24 47 8 56 19 167 262 -95 11-24-5 13-23-3 1-2-0 47.3%

So the Kings are tied in points with the Jets, but they're in the second Wild Card spot due to having four more ROWs. Both the Kings and the Jets have four games remaining, and it's highly unlikely the Jets will catch the Kings for the tiebreaker (or if they did we'd be done anyway, probably). That means that the Kings' final option for getting into the playoffs is simply to just match the Jets in points over their final four games.

As we just mentioned above, if the Kings have a good-to-great week, they'll get in through the 2nd or 3rd Pacific seed anyway, making the Wild Card redundant. So if the Jets go 4-0-0 or even 3-1-0 and the Kings match it, they'll be a top 3 seed in the Pacific. But if the Jets go something like 2-2-0, 1-3-0, or even 0-4-0, and the Kings match THAT, the Kings will get in through the last Wild Card spot. Of course, the nightmare scenario, and the one that sees the Kings miss the playoffs, is the Jets having a week that's even 1 point better than the Kings', while at the same time the Kings' week isn't good enough to catch the Flames or Canucks.

tl;dr: the Kings have a lot of ways to get into the playoffs. They probably just need to win more games than they lose in their last week of the season, but even if they don't they can still get in with some help.

Meanwhile, the Stars in the same "all but eliminated" boat as the Sharks. And wave goodbye to the Colorado Avalanche, a truly awful hockey team who deservedly will miss the playoffs, one year after undeservedly winning the Central.

This Week in #fancystats

(all stats are total attempts, not percentages. thanks to extra skater war-on-ice.)

Blackhawks 4, Kings 1
Corsi: Blackhawks 62-Kings 50 (overall), Blackhawks 54-Kings 44 (5v5), Blackhawks 11-Kings 4 (5v5 tied)
Fenwick: Blackhawks 50-Kings 37 (overall), Blackhawks 42-Kings 33 (5v5), Blackhawks 10-Kings 4 (5v5 tied)
LA Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Brown (+3), Williams/Kopitar (tied, +2). Worst: Martinez (-8), Toffoli/King/Greene (tied, -7)
CHI Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Desjardins (+11), Kruger (+9), Teravanien/Rozsival (tied, +8). Worst: Toews/Hossa/Bickell (tied, -2)

Kings 8, Oilers 2
: Kings 64-Oilers 53 (overall), Kings 55-Oilers 46 (5v5), Kings 8-Oilers 1 (5v5 tied)
Fenwick: Kings 47-Oilers 43 (overall), Kings 40-Oilers 37 (5v5), Kings 5-Oilers 1 (5v5 tied)
LA Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Muzzin/Doughty (tied, +8), King (+7). Worst: Lewis (-5), Regehr/Brown (tied, -4)
EDM Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Lander (+5), Eberle/Davidson (tied, +2). Worst: Yakupov (-8), Roy/Purcell/Nikitin (tied, -7)

Kings 3, Avalanche 1
Corsi: Kings 64-Avalanche 32 (overall), Kings 64-Avalanche 22 (5v5), Kings 21-Avalanche 11 (5v5 tied)
Fenwick: Kings 51-Avalanche 17 (overall), Kings 51-Avalanche 13 (5v5), Kings 17-Avalanche 6 (5v5 tied)
LA Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Regehr (+17), Muzzin/Martinez/Brown (tied, +15). Worst: Shore/Nolan (tied, +4), Clifford (+5)
COL Indv. Player Corsi 5v5- Best: Caron (-3), Hishon (-5), Redmond/Hamilton (tied, -6). Worst: Stuart (-24), Guenin (-19), Everberg (-18)

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.)

Team 4/6 4/7 4/8 4/9 4/10 4/11 4/12
LA @VAN (7:00) @EDM (6:30) - @CGY (6:00) - vs.SJ (Noon) -
- vs.DAL (7:30) - - @ARI (6:00) -
VAN vs.LA (7:00) - - vs.ARI (7:00) - vs.EDM (7:00) -
CGY - vs.ARI (6:00) - vs.LA (6:00) - @WPG (Noon) -
SJ vs.DAL (7:30) - - @EDM (6:30) - @LA (Noon) -
EDM - vs.LA (6:30) - vs.SJ (6:30) - @VAN (7:00) -
ARI - @CGY (6:00) - @VAN (7:00) - vs.ANA (6:00) -

And since this could also end up being important, Winnipeg's final week:
-at Minnesota, Monday 4/6 5:00
-at St. Louis, Tuesday 4/7 5:00
-at Colorado, Thursday 4/9 6:00
-vs. Calgary, Saturday 4/11 Noon

So here it is, folks. The final week of the regular season. Not much more to be said here. As we've already been over earlier, if the Kings take care of their own business, they're in the playoffs. No need to standings watch or hope for help. Just win, boys.

Enjoy the final week of the season everyone! And check back at the Jewels front page tonight, as Jewelcast will be going live around 5:30 pacific. Eric & I will be joined by special guest Mike of Matchsticks & Gasoline to debate who will make it into the playoffs, and perhaps eulogize the San Jose Sharks. Don't miss it!