With just six games left on the schedule, the Los Angeles Kings head into the second last week of the season with an opportunity to lock down the fourth seed and home ice advantage for round one of the Western Conference Playoffs.
Win all three games this week and the Kings can go on cruise control for the final week of the season – it sounds pretty simple, but maybe not. While the Kings have won both meetings with much improved Columbus this season – the Blue Jackets come to Staples Center on Thursday night (7:30 p.m. on FOX Sports West). This matchup is sandwiched between Tuesday’s game in San Jose and home on Sunday to Dallas (6 p.m. on FS West), two teams who’ve made life very tough on the Kings.
HP Pavallion, home of the Sharks, has been a house of horrors for LA. The Kings have dropped four straight and seven of their last 10 contests in San Jose and with the Sharks also setting their sights at securing the fourth seed in the West, an LA victory would give the Kings some breathing room over their neighbors to the north.
The Kings close out the week against one of the hottest teams in the league, the Dallas Stars. While it appeared the Stars were packing it in for the season when they traded away Jaromir Jagr and Derrick Roy prior to the trade deadline, Dallas has been on a roll with road victories in Anaheim, San Jose and Los Angeles.
In fact the Stars have taken three of the four contests this season against the Kings, outscoring them 14-6.
Down in Anaheim, the Ducks are off until Wednesday when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets at Honda Center before heading off to western Canada for a four-game, seven-day road trip.
Anaheim will look to take advantage of what could be a tired Blue Jackets team that played the night before in Los Angeles against the Kings.
Anaheim comes into the week having lost their last two contests and scoring only three goals in their past three games, a fact that is not lost on Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau.
“Look at the numbers of the guys who haven’t scored in a long time now. What was our strength at the beginning of the year was that everybody was scoring and now it is a weakness because nobody is scoring,” he said on Monday.
Other than captain Ryan Getzlaf (2 goals and 4 assists), Anaheim’s big guns, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne have a combined 3 goals in the team’s last 5 games.
The Ducks will then conclude the week with games in Calgary and Edmonton, two of the weaker teams in the conference. A clean sweep by the Ducks this week and they lock down the top spot in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference’s number two seed.