Los Angeles Kings Can’t Afford To Slide Into Playoffs

LOS ANGELES — For the first time since the 2001-02 season, the Los Angeles Kings are looking like a playoff team, so much so that even if they play just .500 hockey over their remaining sixteen games, they are still likely to earn an invitation to the post-season party.

Heading into the Olympic break, the Kings were hot, earning a 12-2-1 record in their last fifteen games prior to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia. But coming out of the break, the Kings have been a mixed bag, with a decisive 5-1 win at Dallas on March 2, followed by two extremely poor efforts at Nashville (4-2 loss) on March 4 and against Montreal (4-2 loss) on March 6. The Kings responded with a 6-0 blowout over the feeble Columbus Blue Jackets on March 8, but then they suffered a tough, 3-2 overtime loss at Chicago on March 10.

The big question for the Kings with just sixteen games remaining is: even if they qualify for post-season action, will they go in with momentum or will they slide into the playoffs, putting them at a disadvantage right off the bat?

Based on their play over the last six weeks, there is cause for concern, especially when you consider the fact that even during their 12-2-1 run, the Kings often got off to slow starts and had to struggle to come from behind to win.

“The biggest thing for us has been our starts recently,” Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi said. “We’ve shown some real good character and an ability to come back in games. But a few of us have been talking here. When it comes down to the stretch, you’re not going to be able to come back against good teams.”

“The games [heading down the stretch] are going to be huge for us,” Scuderi emphasized. “We can’t make a habit of terrible starts.”

Slow starts continued to plague the Kings after the Olympic break as well.

“The Montreal Canadiens ar...

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