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Maybe they took their foot off the gas or perhaps they were just saving some energy for the playoffs. Whatever the case, the Kings let the division title slip out of their hands and now have a tough first-round matchup with a Sharks squad that has looked strong.
The Kings have struggled with consistency down the stretch, but this has kind of been the way the end of the regular season goes for them. They probably don't care as much about the division title as they do being well prepared for the first round.
After losing four of their last five games, the Kings' grip on the Pacific has loosened once again. Only one point separates them from the Ducks now.
Aside from a tough loss to Nashville, the Kings have been rolling. They've already clinched a playoff spot and still remain in the driver's seat to win the Pacific. Whether they finish the season strong or not, they're one team no one wants to see in the playoffs.
Picking up big wins over the Capitals and Blackhawks at this stage of the season was a good reminder that the Kings are built for this time of year. The closer the playoffs get, the better they usually play. They'll be tested with a tough upcoming schedule.
The Kings lost their grip on first place following a pair of losses to the surging Ducks. However, those were their only two losses over their last eight games. Anze Kopitar continues to be an offensive force for the team.
The Kings didn't have an overly effective trade deadline, bringing in Rob Scuderi and Kris Versteeg. They probably could have used an extra defenseman, but there wasn't much out there. Now they have to try to stay one step ahead of the Ducks.
Going 3-3-1 on their recent seven-game road trip has allowed the surging Ducks to erase the Kings' comfortable lead in the Pacific Division. Perhaps they need to be exploring the market for an extra defenseman to get a little stronger for the playoff run.
Losing Jonathan Quick to injury has been tough on a Kings team that has had a hard time stringing wins together of late. Suddenly, the gap between them and second place in the Pacific has shrunk to five points.
The Kings have been 7-5-1 since the turn of the year. It's not an overly inspiring figure, but it hasn't hurt them either. Anze Kopitar, however, has been incredible over the last two months with points in 15 of his last 18 games. He is leading the Kings with 46 points overall.
Preseason Power Rankings
A pair of ugly losses to start the year is a bigger cause for concern for the Kings than it might be for other clubs. Nine goals against over the first two games is a dreadful way to come back from the disappointment of 2014-15.
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