It really is the Wild West in the National Hockey League, as teams from both the Central and Pacific Divisions are pushing for playoff berths. But as the regular season comes closer to an end each day, one big question remains unanswered.
Will the reigning Stanley Cup Champions spark another historic run to the Finals?
While the top three slots for the Central Division seem solidified, with Chicago five points ahead of Minnesota with a game in hand, the same cannot be said for the Pacific.
The Anaheim Ducks sit comfortably in first with 99 points, while Vancouver, Calgary, San Jose and Los Angeles are battling it out for second and third place. However, despite the race being too close to call right now, there is no doubt all eyes are on the Kings to see if they make it in. Anaheim Head Coach Bruce Boudreau openly said he does not want to see the Kings in the postseason.
“We hope they don’t make it. They’re a great team…they’ve got that blood in them,” said Boudreau.
Over the past three seasons Los Angeles has shown that blood, by not only making the playoffs, but bulldozing through them.
In 2012, the Kings lost their final two regular season games to the Sharks, landing them the eighth seed in the Western Conference. The team went on to take down the first, second and third seeds in the West. After defeating the New Jersey Devils in the Finals, Los Angeles not only won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, they became the first eighth-seeded team ever to win it.
2013 did not bring any silver to the Kings trophy cabinet, but the team did manage to get to the Conference Finals before being knocked out by the Chicago Blackhawks.
In 2014, the Kings made history again, becoming only the fourth NHL team to win a series after being down three games to none. They won three game 7s, all on the road, sending them to the Finals where they beat the New York Rangers in five games for their second Cup in three years.
Many would attribute this success to key moves at the trade deadlines. In 2012, Los Angeles acquired Jeff Carter from Columbus. Carter would score eight goals that postseason, one of them being the Stanley Cup-winner.
At the 2014 trade deadline, the Kings traded for Marian Gaborik from the Rangers, who would go on to contribute 14 goals in the playoffs.
Los Angeles may not have made a move for another offensive talent this season, but those core championship players still remain. If the Kings can find a way to sneak into the top eight in the West, they will have a shot at claiming hockey’s crown for a third time in four years. Dynasty anyone?