The Kings will finish the season with 79 points. Just 8 points ahead of last year’s finish of 71 points. Last season, the Kings were 15th in the western conference and 29th in the NHL. This season, they’ve moved up to 13th or 14th in the western conference and 24th- 26th in the NHL. (Games later today and tomorrow will control their final place in the conference and league. Not a significant improvement over last year, most argue. I can see that line of reasoning when you only look at the points and where they’ve finished in the standings. Not a big step forward. A lot of people at last night’s Ducks game were talking about how I should go to today’s Kings game and be sure to say farewell to Dean, since he’ll get fired. I hope not.
Did the Kings make the playoffs this season? No. Did they finish not far behind a playoff spot (as I thought they would)? No. However, they also didn’t finish that close to last in the NHL. Last season, they were tied in points for last place in the NHL, but won the tie breaker with Tampa Bay. This season, Tampa Bay finished in 28th or 29th place (we won’t know what place until later today or tomorrow and how many points ahead of the Islanders will be determined when the Islanders end their season tomorrow). They haven’t made many improvements, though they definitely spent a lot more money. Did they do a better job than the Kings as some suggested at the beginning of the season? Definitely not! Granted, doing a better job than the Lightning is clearly not a good argument for Lombardi being a good GM or for him to keep his job. However, it does show that Dean’s got a level head and is trying to build the Kings the smart way.
For the complete story, see the Defending Dean (Lombardi) HockeyBuzz blog.