Dave Gove The Hockey Writers
LA Kings Must Fix Mental Mistakes That Have Plagued Them Against Flames
With their loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday the Los Angeles Kings’ chances of making the playoffs have slipped to just 21.6%. Down 50 percentage points from last week and putting the Kings in a position where they need to win their final two games and get some help from other teams to clinch a playoff spot.
Even if the Kings manage to win their next game against the Calgary Flames, who they are chasing, they would still need to win their final game against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday to have a chance at a playoff spot.
The good news is that the two teams the LA Kings can still pass in the standings, the Flames and Winnipeg Jets, have a game against each other left. That means at least one of those two teams will get a loss. Of course the bad news is that one of those two teams will also get a win, and the dreaded three-point game is a very real possibility.
Calgary has had the Kings’ number all season, winning three of the four games the teams have played this season. However, the Kings have dominated the faceoff circle, shot battle and of course the Corsi stats for every game against the Flames this season. Anyone watching the games would notice that it’s been Kings mental mistakes that have cost them games against Calgary all season.
Calgary Has Capitalized On Mistakes All Season
In the first matchup between the two teams this season the Kings let Johnny Gaudreau walk right out in front of Jonathan Quick leading to the second of three goals he had that night.
A week later the Kings played the Flames again and this time we see three Kings players not hustle to get back on a play, leading to a 2-on-1 and eventual Flames goal.
Alec Martinez will always be remembered well by Kings fans for his heroics last year in the playoffs, but we’ll probably want to forget this play in the third game between the Flames and Kings this season.
The Flames are a team that capitalizes on their chances and the Kings need to clean up their mistakes if they expect to beat the Flames in their final meeting. On paper, the Kings have been the better hockey team all season when the two teams meet, but it hasn’t reflected on the scoreboard.
Even in the one game the Kings did beat the Flames this season, they gave Calgary a glimmer of hope midway through the third period when Robyn Regehr turned the puck over in the slot, which lead to an easy goal for Mason Raymond.
These are the kind of mistakes the Kings have been making all season, but it’s been especially noticeable against the Flames, because they’ve led to goals.
If the Kings can dominate their final game against the Flames, like they’ve all season, there is still reason to believe the Kings can make the playoffs. It’s not going to be easy, but if any team is capable of pulling this off, it’ll be Los Angeles. They just need to remain focused and not allow mistakes like these to be made on Thursday night.
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