Blues-Kings Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 22, 2012
Maintaining their spot among the top eight teams in the Western Conference remains the primary focus for the Los Angeles Kings. Avoiding a first-round matchup with the West-leading St. Louis Blues might also be worth thinking about. Hoping to better their playoff position, the Kings look to extend their season-best winning streak to six games when they host the Blues in a potential postseason preview Thursday night. Los Angeles (36-25-12) has won five in a row and eight of 10 to grab hold of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. If the current conference standings were to hold up, the Kings would face St. Louis (46-20-8) in the first round. However, Los Angeles is one point behind Pacific Division-leading Dallas. The difference between first and second in the crowded division - which has its top four teams within three points of each other - is third and eighth in the conference. Though the Kings know they have a chance to possibly take over the Pacific lead with a win Thursday, they simply want to focus on extending a season high with a sixth straight home win. "I don't know if you want to wait until the end of the year to play like this, but we're doing it now," said forward Anze Kopitar, who has four goals and three assists in the last four games. "It's nice to see us in the playoff picture, but we know there's still a lot of work to be done. We're definitely showing signs." Kopitar and Mike Richards each had a goal with two assists in Tuesday's 5-2 home win over San Jose. The Kings have outscored their opponents 21-10 during the five-game overall winning stretch. "You can feel the room coming together," defenseman Willie Mitchell told the Kings' official website. "We've got a lot of work to do. If we get in (the playoffs), we can be a pretty scary team." Los Angeles has not made things easy on the Blues while going 2-1-0 against them this season. Though Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves in St. Louis' 1-0 victory in the teams' last meeting Feb. 3, the Kings snapped a four-game home skid in the series with a 5-0 win Oct. 18. Jonathan Quick made 27 saves in that contest and stopped 32 shots in last month's defeat at St. Louis. He has a 1.96 goals-against average during his personal four-game winning streak. Kopitar has two goals and an assist against the Blues this season while Richards has one goal with two assists. St. Louis has already clinched its first playoff berth since 2009 and leads second-place Vancouver by five points in the West, but the Blues have lost three of four since opening a seven-game road trip with a 2-1 win at Columbus on March 11. Jaden Schwartz scored his second goal in as many NHL games Wednesday and David Backes added his team-leading 22nd, but St. Louis blew three one-goal leads en route to a 4-3 loss at Anaheim. The Blues fell to 37-1-1 when scoring at least three goals this season. "Points are crucial for us, and we've got to bear down and be better in those situations," defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said. "It's a little uncharacteristic of us to blow three one-goal leads, let alone one. We've been so good at that this year." St. Louis' David Perron has four goals in his last six games overall, but Backes has been held without a point against the Kings in 2011-12.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Pierre-Paul won't need to wear club on hand this season

Report: Four cities remain in contention to host 2017 NBA ASG

Doc Rivers: Clippers have plan to let Paul Pierce retire as a Celtic

Another young 49er, Kaleb Ramsey, retires from NFL

Saints GM: Drew Brees’ contract situation is not a ‘distraction’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Tim Tebow: ‘I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in’

Olympic athletes warned about Rio's 'human crap' waters

T.J. Ward: Broncos defense doesn’t care who’s playing QB

Tokyo already dealing with rising costs for 2020 Olympics

Bears first-round pick Leonard Floyd carted off practice field

Report: Bills and Tyrod Taylor continue to talk extension

Diamondbacks nearing Daniel Hudson trade

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

What would George Costanza have traded to get Bonds and Griffey?

Gabby Douglas can make USA Gymnastics history at Olympics

Week 3 will determine the Big Ten's reputation this season

Cam Talbot thinks the Oilers are close to making the playoffs

The new era of WWE SmackDown has liftoff

Vlade Divac: Cousins ‘most dominant player in the world’

Wild offer to make Prince's 'Let's Go Crazy' new goal song

Canucks don't dismiss acquiring player with past issues

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ordered to pay $900K to auction house

Six potential landing spots for Nick Foles

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker