Daily News Kings get another chance to clinch postseason berth


They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
Staff member
After a Freeway Flop against the Ducks at Honda Center, the Kings got back in the saddle as they prepared to welcome the Calgary Flames on Thursday.

The confines of Crypto.com Arena have been much friendlier after the Kings returned from their extended All-Star break Feb. 10. Since that point, they’ve had the best home record in the NHL while placing in the bottom third of the league on the road. That’s an about face from their first 48 games, which they started with an NHL record 11 consecutive away wins en route to the fifth-best road mark in the league but a meager No. 27 ranking at home.

On Thursday, they’ll either already be in the playoffs by virtue of the St. Louis Blues losing in regulation to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday or they could have a second opportunity to clinch a berth with a victory, as they did against the Ducks on Tuesday when they faltered in a 3-1 loss.

“Clinching a playoff spot is always difficult, especially if it comes down to the last four or five games of the year, but we’ll have to get it done next game,” the Kings’ Blake Lizotte said afterward.

When asked if there was “reason to be concerned going into the playoffs” playing inconsistently – the Kings lost three contests, including a hapless effort in Calgary, then won three before falling to one of hockey’s three worst teams by record – their interim coach Jim Hiller responded, “No. No, no.’

The adjustments for the next game would be “pretty simple,” he asserted. Hiller also offered an elongated version of the aphorism “we have to get pucks deep.”

“We have to get the puck behind them, when we did, we had success. When we didn’t, they scored two goals and also pushed us back,” Hiller said. “So, that’s a pretty easy fix, it’s just understanding and having the will to do it over and over again.”

The Kings had similar issues in a March 30 match in Calgary where the Flames, a team that feeds off turnovers and rush chances, ate well in the early going and ultimately became the first opponent to put up three power-play goals in a game against the Kings’ vaunted penalty kill.

Apart from their short-handed struggles, there was little novel about that result as the Flames won by the same 4-2 score in their prior clash with the Kings on Feb. 27. The Kings prevailed 5-3 at home on Dec. 27, giving them an opportunity to split the season series Thursday.

Calgary had lost five straight decisions prior to their last matchup with the Kings and proceeded to lose three straight, including one to the Ducks, before beating the NHL’s worst team, the San Jose Sharks, in overtime Tuesday.

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Trade pickups from consecutive summers pace the Flames in scoring. Nazem Kadri sits atop the leaderboard with Yegor Sharangovich in second, and the pair combined for four points against the Kings on March 30. Blake Coleman ranks third but has been even more dangerous against the Kings: He had at least one goal in all three meetings and four total against the black and silver.

Calgary at Kings​

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Crypto.com Arena

TV: Bally Sports West

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