Tonight’s tilt between the Calgary Flames and the Los Angeles Kings will go down as one of the most pivotal and revealing games about the 8th-seeded playoff team in the Western Conference.
The Kings are coming in with a two-game skid while bowing down to the 9th seed, allowing the Phoenix Coyotes to stay in the hunt at 8th.
Meanwhile, the Flames have dropped down to 11th, but remain two points behind the ‘Yotes.
Calgary is itching for a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but failure will go further for the Kings than the Flames.
Rogers Sportsnet, however, is calling tonight’s matchup a desperate one for the Flames. Calgary is 5-0-1 in its last six home games, and will host the Kings.
However, so far, the Vancouver Canucks are the sole Northwest Division representative in the playoffs so far. Meanwhile, the Pacific Division contenders have clustered the field, and the Kings could catapult closer from a 9th seed to a 3rd seed, held by the San Jose Sharks.
Additionally, the Kings were pegged as one of the Conferences top contenders in pre-season rankings. However, early slumps led to the firing of bench boss Terry Murray, who led the Kings to 13-12-4 out of the gate this season.
There’s stock in the new coach Darryl Sutter, offseason acquisition Mike Richards and mid-season acquisition Jeff Carter.
If the Kings tumble tonight, it may lead to an eventual elimination officially from the playoffs.
And, if so, will questions arise this summer about the effectiveness of Sutter, or, for that matter, Richards and Carter, again?