How difficult has the Kings’ schedule been since January 1?
Los Angeles has played 18 games in the calendar year of 2014. They are 6-10-2 in those games. 13 games were against teams that would be in the playoffs if the postseason began today. Seven games were against teams currently leading their division. The “worst” teams that the Kings have faced in 2014? The Vancouver Canucks and Columbus Blue Jackets have 63 points, while the Phoenix Coyotes have 64. The Canucks, Blue Jackets and Coyotes are either tied for a final playoff spot or one point out.
Teams that the Kings have played in 2014 have combined to claim 1,324 out of a total of 2,106 points for a points percentage of .629.
The teams that the Kings will play over the final 23 games of the regular season have compiled a points percentage of .550.
Nine of the remaining 23 games will be against teams currently in a playoff spot, and only three games – two home games against Anaheim and one game at Pittsburgh – will be against teams currently leading their division. Los Angeles will face teams that are currently in playoff position only four times in their next 12 games.
This is not to say that the level of competition ultimately leads to a team’s success. Teams that are on hot streaks will beat other good teams, and slumps are slumps regardless of the competition. Keep in mind that in 2011-12, the Kings’ six-game March winning streak was engineered during perhaps the schedule’s toughest stretch of the season. Los Angeles beat Chicago, Detroit, Anaheim, Nashville, San Jose and St. Louis – five playoff-bound teams and a road rivalry game – between March 11 and 22 to leap into playoff positioning.
The points percentages above also do not take into account travel challenges or back-to-back games. After facing a very good Avalanche team tomorrow night, the Kings aren’t scheduled to arrive in Calgary until late Wednesday night (or, really, very early Thursday morning), which makes a game against the Flames much more difficult than their .440 points percentage would indicate. Other back-to-back sets include at Edmonton – at Calgary on March 9-10, at Philadelphia – at Washington on March 24-25, vs Phoenix – at San Jose on April 2-3 and at Calgary – at Edmonton on April 9-10.
Of the 23 remaining games, 11 will be played at Staples Center and 12 will be played on the road.
Los Angeles has not yet visited the province of Alberta this season. Three road games remain against Calgary and two against Edmonton. While the Kings play five Pacific Division teams five total times, they will face the Oilers only four times.
Again, slumps, hot streaks, injuries and travel burdens affect teams on a game-to-game basis. But when looking at the remainder of the schedule from purely a points percentage standpoint, the six and a half weeks that separate Wednesday’s game from the season finale against Anaheim on April 12 are against teams that on a whole have found less regular season success in 2013-14 than the teams Los Angeles faced in the six and a half weeks prior to the Olympic break.
Remaining 2013-14 schedule (home games bolded):
Wed Feb 26, 2014 Kings at Avalanche
Thu Feb 27, 2014 Kings at Flames
Sat Mar 1, 2014 Hurricanes at Kings
Mon Mar 3, 2014 Canadiens at Kings
Thu Mar 6, 2014 Kings at Jets
Sun Mar 9, 2014 Kings at Oilers
Mon Mar 10, 2014 Kings at Flames
Thu Mar 13, 2014 Maple Leafs at Kings
Sat Mar 15, 2014 Ducks at Kings
Mon Mar 17, 2014 Coyotes at Kings
Thu Mar 20, 2014 Capitals at Kings
Sat Mar 22, 2014 Panthers at Kings
Mon Mar 24, 2014 Kings at Flyers
Tue Mar 25, 2014 Kings at Capitals
Thu Mar 27, 2014 Kings at Penguins
Sat Mar 29, 2014 Jets at Kings
Mon Mar 31, 2014 Wild at Kings
Wed Apr 2, 2014 Coyotes at Kings
Thu Apr 3, 2014 Kings at Sharks
Sat Apr 5, 2014 Kings at Canucks
Wed Apr 9, 2014 Kings at Flames
Thu Apr 10, 2014 Kings at Oilers
Sat Apr 12, 2014 Ducks at Kings