The Los Angeles Kings are in Calgary tonight to face the Flames. They have locked in a spot in the playoffs, but the Pacific Division champion is still up for grabs. Right now there is a three-team dash to take the top spot in the division, between the Kings, the San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks.
At the moment Anaheim leads the division with 98 points, but the Kings are just one point behind. The Sharks have 94 points. This is a very tight race to the division title and home ice advantage through at least some of the playoffs.
Los Angeles and Anaheim have been trading the lead lately, staying within one or two points of each other. Since the Holidays, the Ducks went on a binge of winning, come from nearly the bottom of the standings to leading the division. It’s one of the best regular season comebacks in the NHL.
What’s kept the Ducks and Sharks so close to the Kings, has been L.A.’s inability to win in long streak, losing to teams that have been eliminated from the playoffs. Games the Kings should be winning at this time of the year. They have lost six of their last eight games, losing to Winnipeg, Arizona, Minnesota and on Monday, the Vancouver Canucks.
They also lost to the Sharks and the Dallas Stars in that stretch. The Stars are leading in the Central Division and San Jose is nipping at L.A.’s heels in the Pacific Division.
For the Kings there are nine games left in the season, including tonight’s match up in Canada. On Thursday the Kings will face their closest rivals in the division — and their most contentious rivalry — the Anaheim Ducks.
For the fans, a game between these two teams is nearly as big as the Stanley Cup Final. The two arenas where they play, the Honda Center in Anaheim and Staples Center in Los Angeles are just 30.5 miles a part. Over an hour drive in Southern California’s infamous traffic. Our sports reporter Claudia Gestro can tell you about the traffic getting to and from the games.
Below are two of her video reports about the Kings; the last time the Flames and Kings met on the ice in Los Angeles (March 31) and when the Ducks and Kings faced off in the Freeway Face off on March 5.
Anaheim beat the Flames 8-3 at the Honda Center March 30 and they beat the Stars four days later with two short-handed goals. In between those two games they lost to the Vancouver Canucks at home, 3-2.
Tonight they face the Winnipeg Jets at home before making the short trip to downtown Los Angeles. Both the Kings and the Ducks need to win tonight. The division title is on the line.
Claudia Gestro contributed to this article, including all the photos and videos.
Photo above: The Calgary Flames and the Los Angeles Kings on March 31.
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