Throughout the remainder of the NHL season, ‘Dancing in the Reign’ will be recapping each week in the Pacific Division and Western Conference. Track the Kings’ push for a second consecutive playoff berth, see which teams are hot and who’s not, and note on key divisional and conference match-ups. This edition of Sunday Night Scoreboard Watch recaps the week of March 7 with a look ahead to the week of March 14.
The Week That Was: Offensive outlets surging, goaltender turntable in smooth operation, and 4th place, and also 4th place. Could you ask for much more? The Kings bounced back from last week’s faltering finish to the homestand with three consecutive victories on the road. Overall, the Kings added seven points — in seven days, with a 3-0-1 record. The week’s slate both started and ended with the Dallas Stars. The Kings approached both meetings just one point behind Dallas, and almost surrendered extra points in both contests. A late collapse on Monday night did just that, the Stars leaving Los Angeles with two points earned in a 4-3 OT victory. Sunday afternoon flirted with deja vu, as yet another breakdown was briskly avoided at American Airlines Center. After Dallas’ Jamie Langenbrunner tied the score with just :43 remaining, Michal Handzus countered before the final horn with just :21 to play. The 3-2 victory cued the leap over the Dallas Stars in the standings. Redemption was certainly attained Wednesday night, a stellar performance from Jonathan Quick fueled a 2-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings. A huge victory for both the Kings and Quick, ridding any lingering aftertaste of Detroit’s recent visit to Southern California. Anze Kopitar single-handedly delivered the season-ending blow to the sinking Columbus Blue Jackets Friday night. Kopitar notched the second hat-trick of his career, contributing to his monster week with four goals and three assists.
Pacific Division Standings
Pacific Division Notes: The Kings’ seven points maintained pace in the division, and more – as they climb to second place. The San Jose Sharks continue to sit atop the group, picking up points in all three contests this week. Extra time was needed to decide all three San Jose contests, they dropped both Shootouts, and picked up their only victory in Overtime. Not one club in the Pacific Division is showing any signs of excluding themselves from the playoff race, everyone continues to win. The Phoenix Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks went 2-1-0 during the week respectively, and the Dallas Stars posted an honorable record of 2-1-1. As intriguing as it may look, the Pacific Division standings are almost irrelevant at this point. With every team in the division at-pace for playoff positioning in the Western Conference, that goal becomes the bigger picture. Never in the NHL‘s history have all members of a certain division made the playoffs. The 2010-2011 Pacific Division is certainly making a strong case to change that.
Western Conference Standings
TEAM GP W L OT PTS
1. Vancouver 70 45 16 9 99
2. Detroit 69 41 20 8 90
3. San Jose 69 39 22 8 86
4. LOS ANGELES 69 39 25 5 83
5. Phoenix 69 36 23 11 83
6. Dallas 69 37 24 8 82
7. Chicago 69 37 24 8 82
8. Calgary 69 36 26 9 81
- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
9. Nashville 69 35 24 10 80
10. Anaheim 69 37 27 5 79
11. Minnesota 69 35 27 7 77
Western Conference Notes: How attractive is that 4th seed? If the season ended today, the Kings would be looking at the Staples Center advantage in the opening round. Don’t ride the high-horse for too long, as only three points separate home-ice in the playoffs, from not even qualifying at all. Three points – unbelievable. So with that, enjoy it while you can, not a ton of security here. In a realistic mindset, contention isn’t plausible for teams behind the 11th-seed Minnesota Wild. Separation is slowly taking form, with the Columbus Blue Jackets as the newest representative. It’s simply coming down to late-season success. From the third place to eleventh, it’s a matter of winning games. Teams are too close to analyze it any different, the marathon has turned into a race. Consistency has been the trend in the Western Conference. Aside from the Vancouver Canucks‘ five-game win streak, and the Los Angeles Kings‘ three-game win streak, all other clubs in contention are maintaining pace in subtle form. Every point instills huge implications, and regulation victories become the all-important factor, especially for the Kings. The remaining schedule strictly calls for Western Conference opponents, and if extra points present themselves, they can’t afford to be surrendered.
The Week Ahead
- March 14 Through March 21 -
Tuesday: AT Nashville Predators
Bridgestone Arena, 5:00 PM PST
Thursday: VS St. Louis Blues
Staples Center, 7:30 PM PST
Saturday: VS Anaheim Ducks
Staples Center, 7:30 PM PST
The Week’s Outlook: Another Western Conference slate for the Kings this week. They’ll cap off the current four game road-trip Tuesday in Tennessee, and make way back to Staples Center for the next four dates. As for Tuesday, the Nashville Predators aren’t the most desirable opponent to hit the calendar. Coupled with the Kings’ recent troubled history with the Predators, is the fact that they currently sit at 9th place in the Western Conference. A win in their building won’t come easy. The return to Los Angeles welcomes the St. Louis Blues. The Kings have to win this game, there are absolutely no justifications for explaining a loss on Thursday. St. Louis is done, and playoff-caliber teams execute on sullen clubs. When you’re talking the finish to the week, you’re looking at a grand finale. I’d be shocked if the game wasn’t sold-out already. It’s the Anaheim Ducks, it’s a Saturday night, and the implications are fu**ing ginormous. This is hockey at it’s finest, folks. Let’s Go Kings.
- – - – - – - – -
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings, Away Primary: Michael Zampelli
Alexei Ponikarovsky, Los Angeles Kings, Away Primary : Associated Press
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings, Away Primary: Getty Images/Jamie Sabau
Wayne Simmonds, Los Angeles Kings, Away Primary: Getty Images/Victor Decolongon