Gather 'round for a history lesson, of bright playoff campaigns gone bad . . . and gone south, fast.
Sunday night's debacle at San Jose wasn't the first time the Kings have given up seven consecutive goals in a playoff game. It happened during, of all things, the Wayne Gretzky era when his former team, the Edmonton Oilers, beat the Kings, 7-0, in Game 1 of a second-round series in 1990.
That team featured Gretzky, Luc Robitaille (now a team president), Rob Blake (now a Kings assistant general manager), Larry Robinson and goalie Kelly Hrudey. Robinson and Hrudey were on hand for the Sharks' 7-2 win at the SAP Center in Game 2 on Sunday, Robinson as a valued assistant for the Sharks and Hrudey as a member of the CBC's broadcast group.
No one expected that high-flying era to resurface, especially not against the Kings, an expertly tuned, defense-first machine with a well-fortified structure guarded by an elite goalie, Jonathan Quick, the playoff MVP when the team won the Stanley Cup in 2012.
But in two starts Quick has given up 12 goals in five periods. In contrast, he allowed 10 goals in six games in the first round against St. Louis last year in the playoffs, and 10 goals in seven games against the Sharks in the second round.
The Kings face the Sharks on Tuesday night at Staples Center in Game 3, trailing 2-0 in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series. They reassembled Monday and mostly stayed on message.
Center Jarret Stoll said the team had already "parked" the loss on the flight home Sunday night. Quick spoke about needing to "clean up" some things but declined to be specific.
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter, however, was more than willing to be specific. He praised the Sharks' bottom six forwards, spoke of the shortcomings of his fourth line and was critical of the defense, at least those folks not named Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov.
Sutter said Doughty and Voynov have "basically carried our defense."
"I thought that our third and fourth line and our fifth and sixth defensemen could match up better against their third and fourth line," Sutter said. "It hasn't happened yet.
"At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what the score is, does it? Been there, done that. . . . As I said, our role players, if we can show the tenacity that their role players are showing, then we have a chance. Otherwise, we don't."
San Jose fourth-liners Mike Brown and Raffi Torres have combined for three goals. The Kings' top line of Marian Gaborik, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams has combined for no goals and two assists, both by Kopitar.
Sutter opted to go with seven defensemen and 11 forwards in Game 2 because a couple of players were under the weather and banged up. He said Doughty was healthy.
"The problem has been when they've put [in] guys who work hard, who are trying to prove something going forward out there. We haven't matched up against that," Sutter said. "That's clear. That was a problem for us last year too. We didn't have a fourth line last year. It's been a moving target this year and it's been a moving target the first two games."
Near the end of his media session, Sutter casually mentioned that they had a decision to make before Game 2, whether to go with Quick or rookie Martin Jones. He insisted that going with Jones had been a real possibility, but that could have been some playoff psychology at work.
"He [Quick] still hasn't been as sharp as he'd like. I'm telling you what he's telling me," Sutter said. ". . . I think trading chances with a team that's a high-end offensive team is not a good idea. That's not a team function, that's a three- or four-guy thing. Either they're going to buy into playing the right way and playing the way you have to play or we're going to have trouble beating San Jose."
Said Quick: "I don't know if it's not feeling sharp. It's just [that] I'm not doing the job. I feel fine. When I'm going into the games, I feel good. I think it's going to go the way we want it to go, but it hasn't."
Quick's resilience has been well-documented. Not only has he had the ability to rebound after a rough outing, but he also has done so after a costly stickhandling misadventure or two. The Sharks mentioned that when asked if they were managing to get into Quick's head.
"I think he's frustrated with the amount of goals going in," Sharks forward Tommy Wingels told San Jose reporters. "Whether he thinks he can play better or he had no chance on those, obviously you don't want to give up that many goals. Maybe that's creeping into his head.
"There's a reason that Jonathan is an Olympian, and has won a Stanley Cup before. You have to be mentally strong, especially as a goalie. From what everyone says about him, I think he's very comfortable in that situation."
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