Sunday, December 6, 2009

Picking up Steam

The dreaded two points. So hard to get. So hard to keep. So important to have for later.

Over the last few months I've been writing about breaking the Kings season down into eight 10-game segments (with two free games at the end). In my original article, published HERE, I explained how the Kings need to average 11 points in each of those segments if they're to return to the playoffs in April.

Getting the points now makes it a lot easier than forcing the team to play way over its head the final eight weeks of the season, just to eek out the 8th slot in the uber competitive Western Conference.

Well, for a team that has certainly been inconsistent the last few years, the Kings started off very consistent this season - reaching 24 points in the first 20 games by posting 12 in the first ten games, then matching that with 12 more points in the second ten games.

Saturday's game versus St Louis completed the third 10 game segment. For all that's been made of Ryan Smyth being out of the line-up, the goal slumps of Frolov and Kopitar, the need for secondary scoring, poor penalty killing, thing that shouldn't be lost on anybody is the fact that this was the best 10 game stretch of the season. The Kings just posted 13 points in the last 10 games.

Everybody can stop and breathe for a second. This team is doing just fine.

A look ahead:

Things are about to get challenging. The Kings play four games in the first week of this segment, including three in four nights (beginning with Wednesday's road game in San Jose). The game log for this segment:

Game 31 - home vs Calgary
Game 32 - at San Jose
Game 33 - home vs Phoenix
Game 34 - home vs Dallas
Game 35 - at Vancouver
Game 36 - at Edmonton
Game 37 - at Calgary
Game 38 - at Phoenix
Game 39 - home vs Minnesota
Game 40 - at Calgary

On paper, this looks to be an ugly stretch - Calgary three times, six road games, the aforementioned three games in four nights (which actually stretches into five games in seven nights, games 32-36)...and they're all games vs. Western Conference opponents.

There's also a quirk in this part of the schedule. After the Kings three game trip through Western Canada in mid-December they have an EIGHT day layoff before playing in Phoenix on 12/26. The time off can always help heal up some players, yet rink rust has to be a concern too.

However, there could be some good news ahead with Rob Scuderi possibly returning soon. Plus, Ryan Smyth should be back in the line-up by the end of the month too.

Regardless, points are points...and the Kings only need 11 of them to keep pace. Somehow, someway, they've found a way to get things done through 30 games.

So watch out Calgary. Los Angeles is coming for you on Monday with a trio of unsung heroes - Brad Richardson, Wayne Simmonds and Randy Jones. Never heard of 'em? Don't worry, they're doing their thing on the down low and picking up steam as they go.


To read last month's article recapping games 11-20, click here.

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