So You’re Telling Me There’s a Chance
This statement is intended with as much optimism as there was for Lloyd Christmas when he first spoke it.
The average record of teams the Kings face in February: 23-21-6.
Average record [of teams the Kings face after February] = 27-18-5 … Take out the game against Columbus (who the Kings have actually lost to this season), and it goes to 28-17-5, which is one point shy of both San Jose and Pittsburgh. This will be quite the mountain to climb if the Kings have a sub-par February.
Would 5-7-2 qualify for ‘sub-par’? That would be generous.
As a matter of fact, February was almost a catastrophic failure for the Kings. But like so many Edmonton teams of recent past, they may they may have sucked their way into the lottery.. but instead of the Eberle, Hall, or Nugent-Hopkins lottery (any of which will likely prove more fruitful the next ten years) the Kings hit the Jeff Carter lottery.
The team’s scoring woes were so bad, Dean Lombardi was willing to take on a contract that will no doubt be worse in 7 years than Dustin Penner’s current deal. And it will be for a multiple seasons. But enough about week old topics.
The Kings only dodged digging themselves an inescapable grave due to conference foes’ similar futility. The Sharks had a miserable road trip and the Blackhawks couldn’t keep a puck out of their net. Also, Anaheim stumbled after putting together an incredible string of wins to get back into relevancy. Calgary continued to struggle. Dallas and Colorado have been up and down.
These are the only reasons the Kings weren’t sellers last Monday.
The fact that the Kings haven’t completely fallen out of the playoff race despite losing nine games in February coupled with a potentially competent offense going forward, there may be providing a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
So you’re telling me there’s a chance?
Yes. If the team can figure out how to score consistently. Not even the four goal outpourings we’ve become accustomed to. Two goals a night would do just fine IF-
Quick continues playing Vezina caliber hockey. And if Sutter realizes the error of playing him too much.
That shouldn’t be a lot to ask with the average forward salary on this team at $2.75 MM (3.08 without the recent rookie call-ups), when the player carrying the team squarely on his shoulders the entire season is making $1.8 MM. It’s time everyone else stepped it up. Like they keep saying they need to.
And I hate to put pressure on a 22 year old, but if he didn’t want it, he shouldn’t have held out of training camp to be the highest paid player on the team. Drew needs to start making things happen. He is supposed be what Erik Karlsson is. In fairness, Doughty has been very good defensively. But the Kings have Rob Scuderi for that. And Willie Mitchell. And even Matt Greene.
I’m not even saying he needs to score goals. It’s a nice bonus, but Doughty needs to create more offense- start rushes, gain zone entry, make plays from the blue line, set up scoring chances. He should be answering the bell for the offensive vacuum as much, if not more than anyone. He put himself in this position.
It’s not going to be easy, but the road to the playoffs is doable. Unfortunately, as much of a chore that will be with the difficulty in the schedule ahead, just making the playoffs won’t cut it with the fan base in Los Angeles anymore.
To make a successful showing, the Kings will not only need to get in the playoffs, but win a series. To do that, a finish better than seventh or eighth in the West would be far more ideal. Actually, the best option would be to win the Pacific Division. The Coyotes are in control at the moment, as they hold a five point lead and the Kings don’t play them again this season. But they do play the Sharks three times, including a home and home to end the campgain. If the Kings can win those three games, I guarantee they’ll at least come close to winning the division, as well as getting a little revenge for what could have been last April.
Otherwise, a first round match-up against Vancouver or Detroit will only prolong the improbable trek.