There was a chance, slim though it was. He would not give up. They would not give up.
"We had expectation of winning the Cup again. That was our expectation this morning. All game long," the laconic goaltender said. "Until they scored that empty-netter that was our expectation — we were going to get in and we were going to win again. So it's just disappointment, that's the feeling."
The empty-net goal was scored by Calgary's
It also made official what had long been apparent: the Kings, though still capable of occasional brilliance and of physically punishing opponents, lacked enough depth and consistency in enough areas to leave them on the outside in a conference that will welcome spirited, eager teams from Calgary and Winnipeg to the postseason party after long absences.
"First and foremost we have to look inward," team captain
"I think it's just about ourselves in a lot of situations. That's part of the process here, taking a look at yourself and evaluating yourself. We know what our team's all about. And we know this is not good enough for our group. Regardless of what other teams are doing, we should be there every year."
Not since the
During the Kings' remarkable run of two Cup titles in three years — two more than their fans ever expected to see — and a run to the West final in between, they played 64 playoff games and sent a sizable delegation to the Sochi Olympics.
"A ton of hockey really," said defenseman
Doughty said the workload isn't a valid excuse for their downfall but it is a reality. So was their lack of scoring: they rank 20th with 216 goals and none of the teams behind them currently holds a playoff spot. No player had a career year;
Look, too, at the disparity between their home record, 24-9-7 entering Saturday's now-meaningless finale against San Jose, and their 15-18-8 road record. Coach
"We played hard. I got no complaints about anything to do with our team," Sutter said. "Give the Calgary Flames lots of credit. Now, I get to pull for them."
Altogether, it added up to the Kings silently filing off the ice at the
Again, not enough.
The sticking point is that if they had gotten in and gotten a good matchup — say, against the