Will The Los Angeles Kings Still Make The Playoffs?


 The Los Angeles Kings are currently on the outside looking in, but are they ready for a second-half rally? 

If the playoffs started today, we would be guaranteed a new Stanley Cup champion this season. The defending champion Los Angeles Kings currently sit three points out (58 points, tied with the Minnesota Wild) of the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.

Around this time of the year I start paying close attention to Sports Club Stats, which tracks the playoff chances for every team. As it currently stands, they project the Kings of having a 41.1% chance of making the playoffs. However, in a conference as competitive as the West, the Kings have a significant amount of ground to make up and not much time in which to do it. Then again, this is the team that won their first Stanley Cup as the eighth seed, stormed back from several 3-0 series deficits, and have rallied in the second half of the season before.

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  • So are the Kings falling victim to the dreaded “Cup hangover”? Maybe – but the main culprit for their struggles this season is injuries, the loss of some key players from last year’s Cup team, and the complete mess Slava Voynov has caused. Jonathan Quick has looked much more human in net this season – posting a very average .909 save percentage and a 2.52 goals-against average ( compare those to last year’s .915 save percentage and 2.07 goals-against average).

    The Kings have had trouble away from the Staples Center this season. They have a 16-6-6 record at home and a 7-12-6 record on the road. Fortunately for them, they have a home heavy schedule for the remainder of February — five of their eight games will be played at Staples Center — so some ground could be made up. As for March and April, they appear to have an even mix of home and away games.

    While everyone has been waiting for a second-half rally from the Kings, out of the All-Star break they are 3-3-0 and 3-5-2 over their last 10 – hardly the numbers of a team that is turning things around and getting ready to go on a tear. However, they did earn a big 4-2 over the Atlantic Division leading Tampa Bay Lightning and then followed that up with a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets last night.

    The Kings are having no problem with puck possession this season – their CF% of 53.6 puts them third overall in the league and their even strength CF% of 54.5 currently leads the league. Where they are struggling is turning that puck possession into scoring.

    Their 143 goals for is 16th in the league (they are actually tied with the Philadelphia Flyers and two spots behind the Toronto Maple Leafs). What separates them from the likes of the Flyers and Maple Leafs is that they have the 13th fewest goals against this season (137). (Stats courtesy of war-on-ice.com)

    So can the Los Angeles Kings make the playoffs? If this team has proven one thing over the last three seasons it’s that we should never count them out. Several things have worked against them this season and they really haven’t been able to put things together. A friendly schedule for the remainder of the month, as  well as the upcoming NHL Trade Deadline can quickly turn things around for the Kings. They have a lot of ground to make up in the standings, but the teams currently standing in their way: the Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks, and Calgary Flames, weren’t even projected to be in the playoff hunt this season. I find it much more likely that the Kings rally over the next three months than those teams hold on to their current positions.

    Next: NHL Trade Rumors: Divisional Breakdown

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