Facing the game that can put them within one victory of a berth in the Western Conference final or push them within one loss of an early vacation, the Kings will have plenty to say to each other before they take the ice to face the Ducks at Honda Center in Game 5 of their playoff series.
The coaches and the players who are part of the leadership group are likely to speak in the locker room, but it’s unlikely that anyone will deliver a rousing “Rocky” kind of speech.
“Our responsibility as captains and as coaches… is to reinforce or make sure that they’re clear on how we have to do better or those sorts of things,” Coach Darryl Sutter said after the Kings’ optional morning skate.
“Especially a lot of young guys, as series go along, you reinforce what they do well.”
Right wing Justin Williams has been known to speak from his heart before crucial games, and he very well might share his thoughts again before Game 5. If he does, it won’t come from a script.
“It’s just spontaneity, just saying something. It’s certainly not something planned,” he said.
“It’s a big game, obviously. There’s always subtitles to every series that you play. We know what we’re in for. Nothing needs to be said about it.”
Williams said the high caliber of the teams that are still vying for the Stanley Cup means there’s little to separate any of them. “I feel a lot of who’s going to win this year is going to come down to will and ultimately who wants it,” he said.
The Kings are hoping to prevail in the will department, especially by doing what they can to put pressure on Ducks rookie goaltender John Gibson. The 20-year-old stopped 28 shots by the Kings on Saturday in the 2-0 win that brought the series even at two games each, and the Kings said they intend to challenge him more in Game 5.
“It seems like he’s going to be a great goalie for years to come, but let’s not anoint him yet,” Williams said. “This is a playoff series and a lot goes into it and we’re going to put our pedal down tonight and see what happens.”
Defenseman Drew Doughty was emphatic Monday morning about the Kings’ need to pull together. “We need everyone to step up to the plate. It’s gut-check time now,” he said. “We’re not up 2-0 anymore. So it’s a new series.”
That’s the same kind of message he anticipated voicing before the game. Along with the heavy responsibilities he handles on the ice, he has taken on a spokesman role among his teammates and with the media as he has matured.
“We have a lot to say and we know we need to get everything out of every single guy, whether it’s the leaders speaking up and just calling out someone to play better, that’s what we need to do,” he said. “I know everyone’s just ready and focused for this one…
"I’ve got to be one of the leaders on this team. I have been for a little bit now. I’m still young but I’ve been here a while now and I’ve been in a lot of situations like these. So I definitely need to step up to the plate and have my best game tonight, too.”Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times