Back in the dance, Insiders!
The LA Kings have officially clinched a spot in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, courtesy of tonight’s result in Vancouver. The Kings entered the day with two separate clinching scenarios and exited with that ever-elusive “x” next to their name in the standings. The Kings still have five regular-season games remaining and several unknowns still to come with regards to the first round and hopefully beyond, but we know for sure that when the bracket of 16 teams needing 16 wins is officially unveiled, the LA Kings will be a part of it for the second straight season.
Anze Kopitar – It’s nice, it’s obviously a good feeling. Second year in a row for us and that’s a sign that the team is trending in the right direction. We like where we’re at, but we still have five games left, so we’ve got to focus on those and make sure we’re sharp going into the playoffs.
Todd McLellan – I don’t want to say it’s a relief, because we’ve sensed that it’s been coming, but once you get that asterisk by your name, you can breathe a little bit. That’s a hell of an accomplishment for our group.
So What Do We Know
Playoff Tickets Are On Sale!
Okay, they’ve been on-sale, BUT with just about every other detail regarding the playoffs currently unknown, what we know for sure is that the Kings will have a minimum of two home games at Crypto.com Arena and those tickets are available now.
Tickets are available now for all potential round-one games (four in total) by visiting LAKings.com/Playoffs. Groups of 10+ and Event Suites will be on sale to the general public tomorrow, April 3.
So What Don’t We Know
Seeding & Opponent
When the Kings clinched a season ago, everything was known. The Kings would be the third seed in the Pacific Division and they’d be taking on the second-seeded Edmonton Oilers in the first round. With a clinch coming much earlier this year – after game 77 versus game 80 – and a much more competitive division, we don’t know much about the who, what, where and when the Kings will begin their playoff adventure. A look, for now, at where the Kings stand in the standings –
Not sure if that paragraph makes it sound like a good thing, but it certainly is a good thing that things are unknown! The Kings are firmly in the mix with the top teams in the Western Conference and could finish anywhere from 1st through 7th when all is said and done.
With each team involved having at least five games remaining, the Kings could realistically finish in any of the three spots guaranteed for teams from the Pacific Division, as well as the first wild card position, currently occupied by Seattle. The Kings have officially clinched over Nashville and Winnipeg and could not be the second wild-card team. With that level of fluctuation between positions, naturally the Kings don’t know their first-round opponent at this time either.
Four teams – LA, Vegas, Edmonton and Seattle – are currently all still able to finish in those three spots within the Pacific. All are possible first-round foes. A Kings division win would open up Winnipeg, Calgary and Nashville as potential first-round opponents, while finishing in a wild card position would open up Minnesota, Colorado and Dallas. Five games to go and there are nine realistic round one opponents for the Kings. Buckle up!
Also, to be determined.
The 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs are scheduled to begin across the NHL on Monday, April 17. That marks the first possible day that the Kings could play in the postseason. The regular season ends for LA on Thursday, April 13 in Anaheim, with the season finale coming against the Ducks on the road. That leaves a minimum of three days in between that game and the first game of the postseason.
Last season, the regular season commenced on April 28 and a full, first-round schedule was unveiled the following day on April 29. Expect to see that turnaround come just as quickly here this season. As always, the series will follow a 2-2-1-1-1 format, with the higher-seeded team hosting Games 1, 2, 5 and 7 and the lower-seeded team hosting Games 3, 4 and 6. We just don’t know which team the Kings will be at this time.
Circle April 17 on the calendar as the time for things to kick off and target approximately two weeks per series. The NHL has already announced Saturday, June 3 as a tentative start date for the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals, which leaves 47 days to complete three rounds, an average of 15+ days per series, not accounting for rest days in between series.
Coming along with the series schedule will be a broadcast schedule that includes both local and national options. For US-based teams, the first round of the postseason is broadcast both locally by the Bally Sports crew and nationally by ESPN and Turner Sports. The Kings saw their games split locally last season between Bally Sports West (3) and Bally Sports So-Cal (4), while their national games were broadcast on ESPN (1), ESPN2 (3) and TBS (3). Game 7 in Edmonton was on the worldwide leader, with those wider reaching games typically coming later in a series.
All to be determined, as we move close to that April 17 start date.
For now, we enjoy the achievement and move on, because there’s still more to be achieved over the final five games here in the regular season.