What we learned from the Kings' 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday:
1) Most players and coaches will insist they don't pay attention to the standings, but the Kings acknowledge that they're keeping track of where they are. And they like what they see: Their 12-point lead atop the Pacific Division is, according to the Kings (via the Elias Sports Bureau), the largest division lead they've had in franchise history. And the Kings made their NHL debut in the 1967-68 season.
"You're always conscious of where you are in the standings," defenseman Alec Martinez said. "Going into the last road trip in particular, when you are where you are in the standings, you want to really focus on your divisional games. You want to create separation any time you can.
"Every game is huge, but really, at the end of the day when you look at the schedule ... it's really divisional games that get you a spot in the playoffs."
2) Left wing Dwight King has made a big impact in the three games he has played since he recovered from a broken bone in his leg. Playing Saturday alongside Trevor Lewis and Dustin Brown, King looked like he had never been away.
"It's me being fortunate that I've been around enough and have played with Lewie and Brownie for some time before this season," he said. "We just kind of talked things through and so far it's going well." If he can continue to produce, that would help ease the lack of balanced scoring from the left side.
And no, he wasn't expecting to produce two goals and three points in his first three games back. "I don't think anybody really planned that kind of outcome," he said, "but I'll taken 'em and hopefully just keep going."
3) The Kings' best players have been their best players during this five-game winning streak. Center Anze Kopitar had an assist on Drew Doughty's game-winning power-play goal on Saturday, giving Kopitar an assist in five straight games. He has a goal and nine points in that span. Doughty's goal was his seventh this season, six of them on the power play. He has two goals and five points during the win streak. And goalie Jonathan Quick has given up only seven goals in the last five games.
Strength in goal, up the middle, and on defense are key for any successful team, and the Kings have shown that. They've also gotten at least one power-play goal in each of the five games in this streak and got two goals with a man advantage in the first game of the streak, a 4-3 victory over Arizona.
Those developments, coupled with their determination not to leave clinching a playoff berth until the last few games of the season, have put them in a strong position for the moment. Remember too that center Jeff Carter was injured during the first game of the winning streak and hasn't returned. But his teammates have clamped down defensively and put some distance between themselves and the rest of the Pacific Division pack.