What’s that? Playoffs? Don’t talk about — Playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs?
Player-X, who is quickly becoming a regular contributor, wrote this article about a subject very near and dear to our hearts. The opinions expressed by our readers in article are not necessarily our own and we reserve the right to give them shit about theirs.
First off, I want to take a moment to really thank Surly and Scribe for letting me post articles on their site. Although I may question their judgment in doing so, I admire their courage in letting my voice join theirs in this way. Actually, in all seriousness, I am very flattered that I have been allowed to publish my thoughts here, as this site is well-respected and deservedly so. I hope it will be a good fit, and I will try to equal their standards. Thank you, guys, thank you very much. And now, to the article…
It may seem early to talk about the King’s playoff chances, but remember, this is January, and it is nearing the time for the annual streak-fest. No, I am not talking about running naked down the halls of a dorm; that was expunged anyway. I am talking about the Kings’ winning and losing streaks.
If anything, this is a very streaky team, and not just in winning and losing games. Even in penalty kills, and shutouts, and winning with a lead after two periods, mad-skill streaks happen there, too. If this team is ever able to sustain a streak and then only maintain an average pace when the streak is broken, they could probably contend for President’s trophy winners… But for now let’s just focus on the wins and losses.
Last year, the Kings’ fateful home stand started December 30, with the Kings losing 6 of 8. Then they had the February stretch of 10 consecutive road games, and went 6-4, beating the Caps, Flyers and Blue Jackets in a row but also losing to awful teams such as Minnesota and the Islanders. Then they had two 4-game winning streaks in March - one, a sweep of a 4-game home stand and the other starting with a 3-game road sweep.
In 2009-1010, the Kings started a streak on January 21 of winning 9 games in a row, sweeping a 5-game roadie (remember that Simmonds backhand thru Brodeur, hitting a hole no more than 1 ½ pucks wide?) and then also sweeping a 3-game home stand.
But also, this is the same team that needed those improbable winning streaks to squeak into the playoffs. The 2009-2010 team that won 9 in a row thru February also lost 5 of 7 in early March, then 4 in a row in late March. Those same 09-10 Kings also didn’t win a single game for the entire second half of February, either. (But that was cuz of the Olympics, just messin’ wit yuzz) The 2010-2011 Kings had those 4-game winning streaks in March, but also had a 2 and 10 record from December 29 thru January 20, and had to finish 22-8-5 for their playoff spot.
My reason for pointing out these streaks, both good and bad, is to highlight the time of year. Forget Halloween; for the Kings, this is witching season. Somebody needs to kill a chicken and dance around a bonfire soon, because this year a losing streak might very well kill any playoff hopes, and a winning streak is more unlikely than in past years.
As of this writing, (before the Calgary game) the Kings have played 26 home games and only 17 roadies; that leaves only 15 homers but 24 roadies. If there is gonna be a streak, it is most likely to be the kind we really don’t like.
Looking at the standings, and more closely at the other contenders, the picture does not brighten. Forget the Conference title; Vancouver leads it now by 9 points over the Kings, and they have 22 home games left and only 15 roadies.
San Jose has 3 more points and 4 games in hand; at least they only have 18 home games and 24 road games to go, so there may be slight hope of a Division win. Very slight, but why not be a dreamer?
As for the playoff contenders, it breaks down like this:
Chicago – 7 point lead, 16 home, 22 road games left
Detroit – 5 point lead, 22 home, 17 road games left
Nashville – 2 point lead, 18 home, 22 road games left
Minnesota – tied in points, 21 home, 18 road games left
PunkAss Dallas – 1 point behind, 20 home, 20 road games left
Colorado – 2 points behind, 17 home, 21 road games left
Calgary – 3 points behind, 21 home, 16 road games left
Phoenix – 3 points behind, 22 home, 15 road games left.
Kings – again, 15 home, 23 road games left.
Without Vancouver and San Jose, there are 9 teams fighting for 6 spots. Only three of those 9 have more road games than home, besides us, and one of them is Chicago. We are not likely to beat Chicago’s point total anyway, so of the remaining 8 teams fighting for 5 spots, only L.A., Colorado and Nashville have more road than home games.
So far, Colorado is 10-9-2 on the road. Nashville is 11-8-1. The Kings are 13-10-3. I see no significant offset to the advantage these teams have on us, with Colorado having 2 more home games and Nashville having 3 more home games remaining than the Kings. A losing streak this year would probably be devastating against these teams, and they are the ones we have the best chance of beating out for a playoff spot.
Calgary and Phoenix are behind us in points now, but Calgary has 6 more home games left than the Kings, and Phoenix has 7 more than the Kings. A losing streak would probably be devastating against these teams, also.
Dallas has a balanced schedule with 20 at home and 20 on the road, but they still have 5 more home games left than the Kings. A losing streak would probably be devastating against Dallas, too.
Even Minnesota, who seems to be returning to the expected place in the standings having dropped from Conference best (I think league best at one point, not sure) still has 6 more home games than we do. A losing streak would probably be devastating regarding this team, too.
There is just no tolerance this year for a 4-game or more losing streak. Of course, it could happen and the Kings could rebound with a prolonged winning streak to offset the losses, but this year is different. There are just too many road games to count on winning streaks to get into the playoffs. If the required total is 96 points, the Kings need, already, 46 points from 38 games; that is gonna be tough enough with all the road games, a losing streak would make it just too much to ask for. If a team needs a record of something like 21-13-4, or 22-12-3, there just isn’t a whole lot of room for 4 or 5-game losing streaks.
Let’s hope the Kings can indeed put together similar late-season winning streaks, and maybe even clinch a position early enough to shift focus a little before the playoffs begin. But if not, steady as she goes will still be fine, as long as the team doesn’t allow consecutive losses numbering above 3.