LA Kings: Playoff Hopes Swoon with 1-0 Loss to Vancouver Canucks


The Kings lost yet another hard fought game on Monday night, coming up just short in the final seconds, ultimately losing 1-0 to Vancouver. It was the second straight game that the Kings lost to one of the best goalies in the world, while failing to capitilze on a final shift flurry in front of the net. In those two games, the Kings scored just two goals on Tim Thomas, while being shutout by Roberto Luongo on their way falling from third in the Western Conference, down to ninth.

The swing in the standings shows just how volatile the Western Conference race is right now. Just four nights ago, the Kings were seemingly on top of the world after shootout win over St. Louis put them on top of the Pacific Division for the first time the Darryl Sutter Era. At the time, the Sharks appeared to be dead in the water, and the Kings were presumably the favorite to take the division, as winners of six straight. Now? Not so much, as the Sharks are winners of three straight and have reclaimed their traditional perch atop the division.

The back-to-back losses to Boston and Vancouver are nothing for the Kings to be ashamed of though, especially with how well they played for stetches of both games. But with the playoffs rapidly approaching, and a two-game “playoff series” with San Jose looming to end the season, the Kings need ever point they can get.

Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period tweeted after the game that Kings had “burned their mulligan” with the loss to the Canucks, alluding to the idea that the Kings must win out on the their road trip to keep pace with a playoff berth. Bernstein really raises an interesting question here. Just how many more pointless games can the Kings really afford and are the club’s playoff chances that much in peril?

Well, the Kings have six games left and four before the massive home-and-home with San Jose. The Kings are historically terrible in Calgary, where they’ll be Wednesday night, and you’d imagine that Jonathan Bernier will close out the road trip on Saturday in Minnesota, since he owns the Wild. While that would give Jonathan Quick back-to-back starts against Edmonton, with games on Friday and Monday, the Kings have some winnable games ahead of them, lessening the sting of the losses.

Linking back to Bernstein’s belief that the Kings must sweep Calgary, Edmonton and Minnesota, while it’s imperative that the Kings get at least four to five points in those three games, it’s still a stretch to say that the Kings must win all three. The Kings are just one point behind Dallas, with six to go. That one point can be made up a bunch of ways, especially considering that the Kings can control their own destiny when it comes to catching San Jose, and have games in hand on Phoenix, Colorado and Calgary, all of whom surround the Kings in the standings.

Bernstein said a couple of weeks back, that the Kings would need to win nine of the last 13 games to solidify a playoff berth, in other words, needing 18 points. Through seven of those 13, the Kings have 10 points. Sweeping the road trip would give the Kings 16 points with three games left, and go a long way towards clinching a playoff berth, but by no means are the Kings crippled should they drop a point between now and Saturday in St. Paul. Should the Kings get four points on the trip, they would have to chances at home to get the remaining four points needed. If need be, you take that risk and like your chances, no matter who you’re playing.

Say what you will about the home and home with San Jose, the Kings have an ideal schedule heading into the final six, as they have the power to seriously wreck the playoff chances of two teams within two points of them, while having three games against teams that stopped playing months ago. The Kings will be alright. Well, at least until Wednesday night.