The Kings' journey shouldn't have been so difficult, shouldn't have been a constant struggle to score goals, win at home and stay in the top eight in the preposterously tight Western Conference standings.
But after bouncing between 10th place and third with several stops in between, they're one point from clinching an invitation to the NHL's postseason party. How they got here matters less than the fact they're here and have so many possibilities within their grasp.
"I don't think when we looked at the start of the season that this is the kind of year we thought we were going to have," forward Brad Richardson said. "I don't think anyone in hockey would have thought that. But that's what makes hockey a great game: You never know what's going to happen."
If the Kings earn one point against San Jose on Thursday — or if the Dallas Stars lose to the Nashville Predators in a game that should end at about the time the puck is dropped at Staples Center — the Kings will earn their third straight playoff berth. They could gain the Pacific Division title, No. 3 seeding and home-ice advantage in the first round by Friday if they win Thursday and the Phoenix Coyotes lose at St. Louis in regulation time Friday.