The Kings won’t win the Western Conference or the Pacific Division. The best they can do is finish fourth in the conference and second in the division. But with only three regular-season games remaining before they begin their Stanley Cup championship defense, it would be difficult to find a team playing better then the Kings are at the moment.
Their goaltending, with Jonathan Quick,looks as sharp as it did during the playoffs last season. Their defense is sound and hard hitting, having survived and thrived after injuries to veterans Matt Greene (back) and Willie Mitchell (knee). Greene is back in the lineup and although Mitchell is out for the season the acquisition of Robyn Regehr and the emergence of Jake Muzzin has the blue-line corps primed for the playoffs. The Kings also are getting timely goal-scoring from a variety of players, a departure from earlier in the season.
“Honestly, I’m not watching anybody else,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said after a gritty 4-3 overtime victory over the scrappy Dallas Stars on Sunday night. “I just want us to take care of our own business and who we play is who we play.”
As of Monday morning, the Kings were in fourth place in the West and would meet the fifth-place San Jose Sharks if the playoffs were to begin later in the day. The Kings have road games Tuesday at Minnesota and Wednesday at Detroit before concluding the regular season Saturday with a home date against the Sharks.
“The only team nobody should want to play, quite honestly, is the team that’s only lost five games this year, so do everything we can not to play them,” Sutter said referring to the NHL-leading Chicago Blackhawks. “We’ve talked about (home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs), but that’s the end result (of winning the remaining games).”