The LA Kings have 13 regular season games left in the 2016-17 season. Right now, they find themselves four points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but that path isn't all that likely.
With no head-to-head games remaining against the St. Louis Blues, the Kings are at the mercy of the hockey gods. And with the Blues facing the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes a combined six more times this season, it becomes rather unlikely that they will fall apart down the stretch.
Instead, Kings fans should be setting their sights on a different opponent to catch and pass for a playoff spot.
While the Edmonton Oilers would seem to be the less likely team to catch, their remaining schedule, including three games against the Kings, is far more difficult. That makes them vulnerable.
How can the Kings close that eight point gap?
By beating them. Three times.
No overtime. No shootouts.
That would leave the Oilers with three games against the Vancouver Canucks, two games each against the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche, and one game against the Boston Bruins.
If the Oilers went 5-5-0 in those games, that would give them a record of 5-8-0 over their last 13 games. Those 10 additional points would mean the Oilers would finish with 91.
In our scenario (where the Kings beat the Oilers all three times), the Kings would need to get just 13 points out of their other 10 remaining games.
If the Kings can pull out victories against the Buffalo Sabres, Winnipeg Jets, Canucks and Coyotes, they would just need a combined five points from their games against the Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks and three games against the Flames.
That's an 8-2-3 record in their last 13 games. The same record the Kings had in the last 13 games of the 2011-12 season.
It won't be easy … but it's not impossible.
And it all starts with a victory Thursday night against Buffalo.