The prototypical stay-at-home defenseman had to … well, stay home last year.
"I was in L.A. But it was tough because the team didn't want me around the rink. I get that, I get that part of the program," said Mitchell, who missed all of last season because of knee issues.
"Because I couldn't help the team out. It was where the guys would look over their shoulder, 'Oh, if we had him,' instead of focusing on what we've got and moving forward.
"You want to watch and then you don't want to watch the games. It was eating me up inside. It's not like you can go out for dinner either because if someone sees you out for dinner, it's like, 'What's this guy doing out for dinner? His team is playing.'"
Mitchell was talking on the phone from the
His return is one of many reasons the Kings have reversed this series, so far, from the one in 2013. They had trailed the Blackhawks 3-1 and then lost Game 5 in double overtime, and Chicago went on to win the Stanley Cup.
This time, there is the looming factor of a healthy
Additionally, Kings goaltender
"That's my job to play against the top two lines and slow them down as much as possible with
For their part, the Blackhawks overcame a 3-1 deficit in the second round last season against the
"We were in the same position last year," Chicago forward
"It's tough with the position we're in right now, but at the same time we still feel good about our team in here and we all know we've done it before. You have to have that confidence of trying to win the next game and see what happens."
After Game 4, Sutter said the Kings needed to be better five on five. The Kings have been fairly disciplined during this series, and when they have taken penalties they've killed them off, giving up only two power-play goals in 13 opportunities.
"When they [the Blackhawks] are taking penalties, we need to capitalize on them," Doughty said. "Our PK [penalty killing] was really good again. Special teams was huge. I think we need to clean up five on five."
The early penalty kills in Game 4 set the tone for the Kings.