It’s not going to be easy for the Avalanche to make the playoffs as a wild-card team. They are chasing teams like the Sharks, Stars, Wild and Kings for the last wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
The Avs played the Kings last night at the Pepsi Center, and they received a valuable lesson on how hard it is going to be for them to surpass the defending Stanley Cup champions for a playoff spot. The home team took a 4-1 loss to a red-hot Kings team that has won six in a row.
The Kings have one of the two last wild-card spots, and they would get the last playoff spot if the season ended today. It’s hard to bet against these guys when it comes to making a playoff spot. The Avs’ best chance of making the playoffs is if the defending champs go on such a roll that they get the fifth seed. With the Kings, it’s hard to count them out when it comes to their chances of getting the fifth seed.
These Kings are resilient. That’s the best thing a hockey aficionado can say about that team. This is a team that struggled for most of the season, and now they are in a position to make the playoffs. This is a team that rebounded from a 3-0 playoff series deficit to beat the Sharks in the first round last year. This is a team that rallied from a 3-2 playoff series deficit to beat the Ducks in the second round round last year. This is a team that rallied from a 4-3 deficit in Game 7 to beat the Blackhawks in overtime to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
That’s why it shouldn’t have been surprising the Kings are at it again. That’s why it shouldn’t be surprising that the Kings scored three goals in the second period that keyed their win last night after trailing 1-0 to the Avalanche in the first period. When a team knows how to come from behind to win, it becomes a skill.
When the Kings make the playoffs this year, no one should count them out when it comes to their Stanley Cup championship chances. They can win it. They have the skill, grit and leadership to win it all. Plus, they have the goaltending. That’s why they have won the Stanley Cup two of the last three years.
All the Avalanche can do is envy the Kings. There’s no question Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic and Adam Foote do. Those guys played during the Avs’ glory years. They know what it takes to win a championship. They know the Kings players have this toughness of not knowing when to say when. They know it’s not just about skill. It’s about knowing what to do when the going gets tough, and the defending Stanley Cup champs flourish in that situation.
For the Kings, it seems like they enjoy being in deficits. They like to do things the hard way. They are not good when everything comes easy to them. How else can anyone explain what they have been doing since last year’s playoffs?
The Kings have been inconsistent this season. They have gone through a Stanley Cup hangover for the first few months, and understandably so after logging so many minutes for 16 playoff games last year. Plus, their players traveled around the county along with going places around the world to show off their Stanley Cup.
It was going to take time for them to get their legs back on track. The Kings knew that. They have been there before when they defended their Stanley Cup two years ago. They understood the season is a marathon, not a sprint.
If nothing else, the Kings are applying what they learned in defending their championship this time around. They did not had that experience couple of years ago when it’s all new. Even when they defended the Cup first time around, they played in the Western Conference Finals in 2013.
If the Kings can win this season, it would mean they are a dynasty to win three Cups in four years. It’s hard to build a NHL dynasty. The Avalanche can attest to that during their heyday.
It would be impressive if the defending Stanley Cup champions play in the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time in four years. It would speak well of how they are built and what they are made of.
It’s been a great run for this Kings team. It’s been fun to watch. There’s so much to like about them.
It will be interesting if they can repeat.
The Kings are going to be an interesting story come springtime.
They are in the process of creating more chapters of what can be a great run in the second season.
Last night is a glimpse of what they can do.
Follow or Contact Leslie Monteiro: @LightRodWriter