The Los Angeles Kings have lost six of their last seven games and desperately need to turn things around now before they fall completely out of the playoffs. Now appears to be as good of a time as ever to do so: the Kings do not play on the road again until Feb. 26.
Due to the Olympic break, that is only four games, but nonetheless it gives Los Angeles a much-needed opportunity to put some wins together after their recent 1-5-1 stretch. The Kings are much better at home (16-7-3), than they are on the road (14-12-3). However, the upcoming home stand will not provide any easy competition.
They will kick off the four-game home stand tomorrow against the Pittsburgh Penguins. With 76 points, the Penguins have the best record in the Eastern Conference and the third best record overall in the NHL. The two teams have not yet met this season, but the game is undoubtedly more crucial for the Kings.
While the Kings are 3-6-1 in their last ten games and playing some of their worst hockey of the season, the Penguins are on the opposite end and have gone 7-2-1 in their last ten.
Then, the Kings will take on the Philadelphia Flyers. Though the Flyers only have 58 points compared to LA’s 66, the Flyers are still the seventh seeded team in the East. They are only 3-5-2 in their last ten games and their defense has been a problem for them all season. This is a game that the Kings absolutely need to win. If the Kings’ struggling offense can jump out and score some goals on the Philadelphia defense, they may be able to get some positive confidence heading into the huge Olympic break. The Kings have only scored two goals in the last four games, both by Anze Kopitar.
Then comes arguably the toughest test of the bunch. The Chicago Blackhawks have 77 points on the season and are tied with the St. Louis Blues for second in the Western Conference and NHL. They have played each other twice, with Chicago winning both of them (1-0, 3-1).
The Blackhawks have a very potent offense. In some recent games, the Kings’ defense has even started to become a problem, which is something they absolutely cannot have. This game could be a huge statement game for the whole team, but the defense especially. If the Kings can pull out a win, the confidence on the defensive side of the puck should receive a boost.
Then, the Kings close the home stand with a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets before heading to into the Olympic break. The Blue Jackets currently sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. However, they have been playing their best hockey of the season for the past month or so. They have won seven out of their last 10 games.
The Kings absolutely would like to win at least three of these games. If they can win all four of them heading into an almost three week break, then they will definitely be in a good position to keep it going for the rest of the year. Just two weeks after coming back from the break, the NHL trade deadline will come by. This stretch of games will go a long way in showing how active the Kings will need to be at the deadline.
If guys begin to step up, the Kings may not feel pressed to trade some key pieces for the future for offensive help now. As it stands now, they will need to make a pretty big deal at the deadline if they plan on contending for a title at all this year.