Seven-game trip looms large for Kings
LOS ANGELES — It’s good for the Kings that they play 15 of their final 22 regular-season games at Staples Center. First, they must deal with arguably their most important segment of the season – a seven-game trip that begins Friday at Florida.
The Kings were a point out of third place in the Pacific Division prior to taking on the visiting Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night. With a third-place divisional finish comes a guaranteed playoff berth, so the last thing the Kings need is to come back from their trip several points out, then have to chase.
Defensemen Alec Martinez and Derek Forbort addressed the situation at practice Tuesday in El Segundo.
“Yeah, I mean, obviously this road trip is huge,” Martinez said. “Regardless of whether we were going on the road the next seven games after tomorrow or if we were at home, or any other combination thereof, this is moving day. These points are really important this time of year.
“This is really where a true separation happens. We’ve gotta take a good focus. We’ve got a tough trip ahead, we’ve got a lot of tough opponents.”
The Kings will follow Friday’s game at Florida with games at Tampa Bay, Carolina, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Chicago and Winnipeg. Four of those teams (Florida, Carolina, Buffalo and Chicago) are currently out of playoff position in their respective divisions and conferences, but Tampa Bay leads the league in points with 75, Pittsburgh is in second place in the Metropolitan Division and Winnipeg leads the Central Division with 73 points.
Indeed, a tough task.
But the Kings do have a very respectable road record of 15-10-2, something noted by Forbort.
“We’ve been a pretty good road team all year, so I think we know what we have to do to win on the road and we know we’re more capable […]