According to the metrics, eye test and common sense, the Los Angeles Kings should be considered one of the NHL’s best teams in 2014-15. It’s easy to understand this sentiment. Here’s nearly the same exact roster that won the Cup a year ago. Their possession numbers are fantastic, as is their 22-9-7 record at home. Jonathan Quick, while undoubtedly overrated in some circles, has a solid track record in the postseason. Their depth is to be envied, as well.
And yet, LA is in serious danger of missing the playoffs altogether. A 4-1 loss to the Blackhawks on Monday has put the Kings two points behind Winnipeg for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It’s not an insurmountable mountain to climb by any means, but it’s not exactly a favorable position, either. It shouldn’t be this suspenseful.
Thankfully for the Kings, their remaining schedule is far from difficult: their final six games include two contests against Edmonton, one against Colorado and another against San Jose. Their other matchups — Vancouver and Calgary — aren’t especially tough, all things considered.
Chicago Blackhawks 4, Los Angeles Kings 1
3 things we learned
The Lightning have the Canadiens’ number
Montreal swept Tampa Bay in the playoffs last spring — largely due to Ben Bishop’s absence — but the tide has since turned. By defeating the Canadiens 5-3 on Monday, the Lightning swept the season series, 5-0, and moved within one point of the Habs in the Eastern Conference standings.
Vancouver made a statement by beating St. Louis
The Western Conference is loaded this year, and while they haven’t received much attention, the Canucks could surprise some people down the stretch. By winning 4-1, Vancouver moved within two points of fifth-place Minnesota with six games left in the regular season.
Arizona and Buffalo can be entertaining
The Coyotes and Sabres may be the worst teams in the NHL, but their two meetings this year have resulted in some surprisingly watchable hockey. Arizona took the first contest in an exciting overtime triumph, and Buffalo evened the season series on Monday. Though the Sabres won 4-1, it was a one-goal game until Ted Nolan’s club notched two empty-net tallies.
Stat of the night
Ben Bishop has more points tonight than 161 players who have suited up this season.
— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) March 31, 2015