Whether prompted by the Canucks’ media relations department or speaking spontaneously, Vancouver defenseman Shane O’Brien sort of apologized for grandstanding after he fought the Kings’ Wayne Simmonds on Friday near the end of the 7-2 playoff rout that put the Canucks in position to end the Kings’ season Sunday at Staples Center.
O’Brien raised his index finger and gestured to the crowd, palms up, as if to request more applause for his pugilistic feats. Kings Coach Terry Murray criticized him and called him a clown. O’Brien’s employers reportedly didn’t like it much, either, and called him in for a chat before he spoke to the media in Vancouver on Saturday.
“I wasn’t trying to show anybody up or anything like people keeping saying and talking about,” he told reporters in Vancouver before the Canucks flew to Los Angeles. “It was a big game, there was some emotion, the crowd was standing and next thing I know I was raising my hands in the air.
“It was probably a little immature and uncalled for, but at the same time, I don’t know, for those of you out there who have been in a fight sometimes you don’t think before you act -- I’m pretty good at that. I’ve got to start thinking before I do stuff. I’ve done a lot worse in my life.”
He also complimented the Kings’ coach.
“Terry Murray is a great coach, he’s done a good job over there, and we’re looking forward to Game 6 and closing it out there,” O’Brien said.
Asked if the Kings might target him for retaliation, he resisted throwing fuel on the fire. “I don’t know about that. I just know we had a really good effort Friday night and we know the hardest game to win is the fourth one,” O’Brien said.
Murray said he appreciated O’Brien’s pseudo-apology but Simmonds wasn’t moved.
“I don’t really want to comment. I’m just going to let that go by and focus on this game,” Simmonds said. “Honestly that doesn’t mean anything to me. We’ve got to try and build momentum off of that, just let them know it’s not going to be that easy, that’s for sure.”
Get over it
The Kings insisted Saturday that they’ve put Friday’s hapless performance behind them.
What choice did they have, with Game 6 staring them in the face?
“It’s a challenge but it’s playoffs and in the playoffs you have to forget about the last game,” center Michal Handzus said. “It doesn’t really matter if you win or lose--you have to forget about it and get ready for the next one. It’s a clichÃÂ© but it’s true.
“We know we didn’t play well [Friday] night and the one thing is forget about it and the other thing is learn from it. We’ve got to forget about it and refocus and learn from our mistakes because we did too many.”
And those mistakes were ...
“We were a little passive and we didn’t spend enough time in their zone, and that’s our game, be aggressive and get a good forecheck and play a puck-possession game what we play all season,” Handzus said. “We didn’t do that and we’re going to do that [Sunday].
“In our zone our defensive coverage wasn’t good. We give them too much room. They are very good players when they have room.”
He’s not ready for the season to end. “No way. No way,” Handzus said. “We want to keep going. It’s going to be a huge game and emotional and we’re going to put everything on the line, that’s for sure.”
Simmonds agreed that the Kings won’t be depressed about their Game 5 loss when the puck drops for Game 6 Sunday night.
“If you can’t get up for this you’re crazy. This is do or die,” he said. “This could potentially be the last game of our season so we’re going to come out scrapping and we’re going to leave it all out there on the ice, that’s for sure.”