35 games left.
I believe the playoff point threshold will be 55 points. I just saw, over at Jewels from the Crown, that Niesy thinks it might be higher than that. That’s possible, but, in my opinion, extremely unlikely. In the several million simulations run every day by Sportsclubstats, 55 points is enough to make it into the playoffs in over 90% of simulations. Below 55 points, the likelihood drops from “almost certainly” to “probably” (at around 54) to “maybe” (at 53) and “probably not” (at 52). That’s for everyone, not just the Kings.
To get to 55, the Kings need a record of 19-11-5 from here on. To put that in perspective, the Kings went 17-12-6 in the last 35 games of 2011-12. It might make you feel better to consider that every one of the teams currently in the 6th to 14th slots are in the same boat, currently separated by two points-blown (the Kings being in the middle of that pack, one point from 6th, one point from 14th).
In other words, if you think the Kings’ odds are bad, then you think everyone else’s (the other 8 teams between 6th and 14th) are equally bad. Which of course means the Kings’ odds aren’t that bad.
The Kings have 23 games before the trade deadline, and another 12 games after it. I am more comfortable if the Kings don’t go into the home stretch having to win most of their remaining handful of games. So my projection builds in the idea that they had better plan on playing their best hockey right f***ing now, so that the required winning percentage can get progressively lower as the playoffs approach. Another way to say that would be, I’m trying to build in breathing room.
29 points before the deadline, over 23 games (.630).
14 after the deadline, over 12 games (.583).
2/19 – 2/25 — 4 games (needed: 3-1-0, .750, 6 points)
- @CGY (2nd of back-to-back)
- COL (dreaded afternoon game)
Although I am generally an optimistic person, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that if the Kings screw up this block of games, they will being peering over the edge of the precipice into the abyss. Our Canadian rivals to the North, back-to-back, an afternoon game (which always brings out the best in the Kings HAHAHAHAHA) and then Anaheim, currently the second hottest team in the league. Wouldn’t they like to put a nail in the Kings’ coffin?
2/27 – 3/5 — 4 games (needed: 2-1-1, .625, 5 points)
- STL (2nd of back-to-back)
I worry the most about back-to-backs at home.
3/7 – 3/21 — 9 games (needed: 5-3-1, .611, 11 points)
This is a fascinating block of games. It features three — count ‘em — three pairs of consecutive games against the same opponent. This run of nine games begins and ends with Dallas, and has three games against Phoenix. Nine games against four opponents. The Kings need (at least) to split each “series” and take two of three from PHX. And one of the splits needs to be a loss in OT or SO.
- @PHX (2nd of back-to-back)
- PHX (2nd of back-to-back)
3/22 – 4/3 — 6 games (needed: 3-2-1, .583, 7 points)
Four in a row on the road, leading up to the deadline. This would be the “please don’t trade me” road-trip.
- VAN (dreaded afternoon game)
- @DAL (2nd of back-to-back)
April 3 (12pm Pacific) – Trade Deadline
4/4 – 4/13 — 6 games (needed: 3-2-1, .583, 7 points)
At this point, if the Kings haven’t met the point-targets outlined above, we will be talking about them having to close out the season with some kind of historic run. Instead of looking at a goal of 6-4-2, picture us praying for 8-2-2 in the last twelve. See? That’s why we need the wins sooner rather than later.
- EDM (dreaded afternoon game)
- @ANA (2nd of back-to-back)
The other thing about this block is that pair of games against the Ducks, to close out that season series. If the Kings have a prayer by this point, we’ll also be talking about the Kings and Ducks in the playoffs together for the first time. At least, I hope that’s what we’re talking about.
4/16 – 4/27 — 6 games (needed: 3-2-1, .583, 7 points)
- @DET (2nd of back-to-back)
This last block of games is book-ended by home-and-home against the Sharks. I think it’s highly likely the entire season will come down to that last game. It could come down to that last game for the Sharks, too. And wouldn’t that be something?
It’s not an exaggeration to say that every game is a playoff game now. And it’s a fact that a losing streak at any point is almost certain to be the kiss of death.