Playoffs? — What the Kings Need to Do, and When They Need to Do It

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)

  • @EDM
  • @CGY (2nd of back-to-back)
  • COL (dreaded afternoon game)
  • ANA

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)

  • DET
  • @VAN
  • NAS
  • 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.

  • DAL
  • CGY
  • CGY
  • @PHX (2nd of back-to-back)
  • @SJS
  • SJS
  • PHX
  • PHX (2nd of back-to-back)
  • DAL

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)
  • @CHI
  • @STL
  • @MIN
  • @DAL (2nd of back-to-back)
  • @PHX

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.

  • MIN
  • EDM (dreaded afternoon game)
  • @ANA (2nd of back-to-back)
  • @DAL
  • COL
  • ANA

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)

  • @SJS
  • CBJ
  • DAL
  • @MIN
  • @DET (2nd of back-to-back)
  • SJS

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.


  10 comments for “Playoffs? — What the Kings Need to Do, and When They Need to Do It

  1. Rockkon
    February 19, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    Thanks for posting this. It’s horrific to see the way the Kings are in such deep shit right now. I really hope they can play their way out of it.

  2. USHA#17
    February 19, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    It will be a close thing with Drewiske is playing at his full potential and Eberly close to his. Maybe a couple of forwards can step up and perhaps Muzzin might come forward like Martinez did last year

  3. February 19, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    Man, missing the playoffs would really screw up a righteous Stanley Cup hangover. I’m interested in hearing from people: How much shine would missing the playoffs this year take off of winning the cup?

    • February 19, 2013 at 11:13 PM

      The notion that a Stanley Cup hangover is acceptable or even real is not compatible with the Kings making the playoffs, much less going deep again. If you’re talking about the players, they cannot rest on their laurels and expect to excel this season (I think the opening game demonstrated that). If you’re talking about us fans, I find that to some extent, I have to forget that the Kings won the Stanley Cup last season if I’m to maintain my interest in whether or not they win it this year.

      As to your question, I don’t think this season is the determining factor. If they come back strong in ’13-’14 and remain competitive for years to come, according to Lombardi’s plan, then history will largely efface a disappointing lockout-shortened ’13. If they don’t, then the success of ’11-’12 will look like a fluke.

  4. February 19, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    I thought the Kings and Ducks both made playoffs in 2010?

    • February 20, 2013 at 2:47 AM

      Kings finished 6th (101 pts), Ducks 11th (89).

      • February 20, 2013 at 5:34 PM

        Ah, wrong year, in 2011, Ducks finished 4th in the conference with 99, and Kings were 7th with 98. I knew there was one year they both made it. And of course so did the Sharks for all three California teams.

  5. February 21, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    I don’t think Sportsclubstats considers refs awarding more power plays/higher scoring/more 3 point games in the West. But even if that’s a trend that fades, I’d rather not have just enough points to reach the 8th seed, especially with Chicago looking like they have a good chance at keeping #1.

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