LA Kings Playoff Watch: Not Too Early to Start Looking at Matchups


Should the NHL season end today, before Saturday’s games conclude, the Kings would win their first ever Pacific Division crown and be awarded with home-ice against the 2010 Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. How does that sound?

Well, it’s interesting to break it down. The Kings have fared very well against the Blackhawks this year, especially at the United Center, where they won both games. In the four game season series, the Kings went 3-1 against Chicago, including a 4-0 demolition job at the Staples Center back on Februrary 25. It would appear that the Kings have the Blackhawks’ proverbial number, but I’m not so sure that’s true. Yes, Jonathan Quick stood on his head and singlehandledly beat the Hawks back in December, and the Kings have won three in a row against them, but the Kings have never faced the playoff version of Jonathan Toews. Toews, who has been out since February 19 with a concussion, should be back for the start of the playoffs, and knowing his ability to play at the Conn Smythe level in the playoffs, you cannot assume he’ll be hindered if he plays. In the two games Toews played against the Kings this season, the teams split them, with the road team winning both. Assuming Toews plays, the Kings are probably looking at another evenly matched first round series that could very well go seven games. Despite home-ice, that’s a tough draw with Toews and the Blackhawks, regardless of the Kings’ regular season success.

The two other possible draws for the Kings are the St. Louis Blues and the Vancouver Canucks. With the Blues, the Kings would be in an absolute defensive struggle and each game would end 1-0 or 2-1, without a doubt. The Blues and Kings are tops in the NHL defensively, in that order, and as seen last week, a scoreless game going into overtime wouldn’t be a surprising scene by any means. You have to like the Kings chances with the Blues, despite St. Louis’s record, especially if the Blues play with the burden of the President’s Trophy. They allow the Kings to play the game Daryl Sutter wants to play, and offensively, the Kings have more talent. Kings-Blues? Give me the Kings in six, winning Game Six in the third overtime on a Slava Voynov slapshot, to end a long scoreless streak from both teams.

The Canucks are the other possibility, eh? Well, I’d like to think that the Kings have the revenge factor against the Canucks going with them, given the frustrations of the 2010 series. But, the reality is that this isn’t the same Kings team. At the time, the Kings had Bobby Orr 2.0 in Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick was a possible placeholder for Jonathan Bernier, and the Kings didn’t have Mike Richards or Jeff Carter, but instead were skating Wayne Simmonds and Fredrik Modin. Things have changed, and these Kings have beaten the Canucks this year and looked very formidable against them, especially with winning both games in Vancouver. If the Kings get the Canucks, the homer in me gives the Kings the edge to win in six.

Is it logical that the Kings have a very good chances to beat Chicago, St. Louis and Vancouver? Considering the Kings went 3-1 and 2-0 on the road against Chicago and Vancouver this seen, logic would say yes. Knowing the Kings struggles in the playoffs the past two seasons, despite being in position to take both series? Illogical. But what do you say? Who you rather see the Kings face in the First Round of the Playffs? You know, assuming the Kings can hold on to their playoff spot.