The defending Stanley Cup champion Kings officially clinched a playoff spot -- and a chance to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since 1998 -- when the Detroit Red Wings lost to the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout Saturday night in Vancouver.
It will be the Kings’ fourth consecutive postseason appearance, their longest streak since they qualified seven straight times from 1987-93. Playoff tickets will go on sale Friday -- the Kings will release specifics on the process this week -- and the march to Lord Stanley’s Cup will start April 30.
At least one member of the Kings is ready to start growing his playoff beard: Dustin Penner (@dustinpenner25) tweeted this shortly after the clinching became official.
But there’s still a lot that remains to be determined.
The Kings, who face the Dallas Stars at 6 p.m. Sunday at Staples Center, are fourth in the West at the moment. If they stay in the top four they’ll have home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 1992. They’ve opened their last 15 consecutive playoff series on the road, including all four last season, when they won the Cup as the No. 8-seeded team.
If they earn one point on Sunday, the Kings will be assured of at least the No. 7 seed. If they win in regulation and Minnesota loses in regulation to Calgary on Sunday, the Kings will clinch at least the No. 6 seed.
After they face Dallas on Sunday, the Kings will have three games left. They’ll be at Minnesota on Tuesday and at Detroit on Wednesday before wrapping up the lockout-shortened, 48-game schedule at home next Saturday against San Jose.
It was actually a double clincher for the Kings, as their top affiliate, the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs, clinched a spot in the American Hockey League playoffs.