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Los Angeles Kings Are a Dark Horse Contender in the West

Alex Edler Los Angeles Kings Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers

The Los Angeles Kings have been quietly excellent in the last month and a half. They have an .813 points percentage since Feb. 1, which is the best in the league. The Kings appear likely to make the playoffs, but there are still a lot of possibilities for seeding and potential opponents. There are a few teams on their heels as well, and a slump could see them slide down the standings. With less than a month left in the regular season and the trade deadline behind us, it’s an appropriate time to look ahead toward the playoffs.

Kings’ Chances of Winning the Pacific

The Kings are currently tied with the Vegas Golden Knights for the division lead. Vegas has a big advantage in regulation and overtime wins (ROW) over LA, sitting with a 38-34 advantage, and that is the first tiebreaker if they end up with the same amount of points. Even the Edmonton Oilers are ahead of the Kings in that category, with 38 ROW, but they are still behind them by five points. The only other Pacific Division team in contention for a spot in the top three would be the Seattle Kraken, who are one point behind the Oilers.

Related: Kings Depth and Power Play Leading to Success

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Looking ahead at the remaining schedule, the Kings will play Edmonton twice, and Seattle and Vegas once each. These will obviously be critical games to determine the seeding in the Pacific. Last season, LA finished third in the division, and had to play Game 7 on the road in Edmonton. This year, they appear much more likely to get home ice at least for the first round. According to Dom Luszczyszyn’s projections, the Kings have a 33 percent chance of winning the Pacific Division, and also a 33 percent chance of finishing in second (from ‘2022-23 Stanley Cup playoff chances and projected standings’, The Athletic, March 17, 2023).

Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers is watched by Alexander Edler of the Los Angeles Kings (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

According to those projections, the Kings are most likely to face the Oilers again in the first round. This would be an exciting matchup, as both of these teams have scored the most goals per 60 minutes since Feb. 1. They have two of the best power plays in the league, and they will face penalty-killing units that have struggled for most of the season. This is a series that could come down to goaltending, with the consistency of both teams’ netminders very much in question, which could result in some high-scoring games.

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