The Los Angeles Kings' playoff outlook is in constant flux with three games left in the regular season, and it is not a given that they will even make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Kings sit in first place in the crazy Pacific Division of the wild Western Conference. Taking a look at the standings on NHL.com, we can see how convoluted the division is. Anaheim is out, but four of the five teams in the division still have a chance to win the division and grab the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Without delving into all the playoff possibilities, we can see by looking at the standings that there are only three seeds the Kings could possibly get. The Kings could still get the third seed by winning their division. In the NHL playoff system, division winners are get the first three seeds regardless of their point total.
Even though the Kings have a lower point total than the Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks, the Kings would be seeded third should they be able to hold on to the top spot in the division.
Los Angeles could also get the seventh or eighth seeds should they fall out of the division lead but are still able to hold onto one of the playoff spots.
Since the No. 1 seed plays the No. 8 seed, No. 2 and No. 7 play and No. 3 faces No. 6, we know that the Kings can only play the first, second or sixth seeds.
Vancouver and St. Louis have first and second locked up so they could both be first-round opponents if the Kings slipped to seventh or eighth in the conference. Detroit, Nashville and Chicago could all end up in sixth so these teams could also be first-round opponents if the Kings hold onto the No. 3 seed.
Therefore, there are five possible first-round opponents for the Kings: Vancouver, St. Louis, Detroit, Nashville and Chicago.
In the following slides, I will power-rank these teams from No. 5 to No. 1 from the team which I perceive to be the best matchup (less tough) for the Kings to the team I think is the worst matchup (most tough) for the Kings.
I will analyze those teams' goals per game (GPG) and power play (PP) ranks, goals against average (GAA) and penalty killing (PK) numbers and goaltending. I will also examine the teams’ penalty in minutes (PIM) and fighting major (FM) rankings to determine their toughness rank.
Finally, I will take into account the results of the season series and will make an analysis for a potential series between the Kings and that team and make a prediction for the series.
Note: All rankings listed will be among these five teams unless stated they are NHL rankings