This year will be another without both southern California teams in the playoffs. It’ll be great for southern CA hockey to see them play in the playoffs the same year. Maybe next year it’ll happen. In spite of the fact that so many things could end the Ducks’ playoff run (and did), before the game I was having a disagreement with a friend in the press box about whether the Ducks could make it. Sure, before the Colorado/Vancouver game ended in a shootout (not long before the Kings beat the Ducks the same way), it was still possible for the Ducks to make it to the playoffs this year. Most of us knew that wouldn’t happen. I called it in October from the way they were playing and publicly predicted the Ducks missing the playoffs in November. I didn’t believe you could fail the first 30% of your season and still squeak into the playoffs. The Avalanche and Kings helped prove me right tonight.
The West is all sewn up for those in and out of the playoffs. Exact positions have yet to be decided, but there is no question that the Flames, Blues, and Ducks are out of the playoffs and the Avalanche will be playing in them again.
Terry Murray pulled Quick after the third goal by the Ducks and the Kings rallied to win the game 5-4 in a shootout. Kopitar and Johnson scored for the Kings after Perry scored for the Ducks, winning the shootout 2-1. Kopitar came close to ending the game in overtime, but had to go on to use his most famous shootout move to beat McElhinne and win the game for the Kings.
Now the debate turns to where the teams will end up in the standings and what teams will face each other in the playoffs. As usual at this time, there are many possibilities there. The last few days of the season are always exciting. Kings fans are looking forward to seeing their team in the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and many of the Kings are looking forward to their first playoffs of their NHL career.
With their playoff spots secure, many teams are having trouble coming out strong in these last games before the playoffs. Hopefully for Kings fans, tonight’s game against the Ducks will help the Kings to finish the regular season strong so they can build on that performance when the playoffs start.