In theory, four points are waiting to be gobbled up in the next 48 hours. In reality, the Kings need to confirm that they’re hungry for the buffet.
If there’s a figurative reset button at their practice facility, the Kings will press it a bit harder this time around. A dud loss, a 7-2 clunker against the St. Louis Blues, places additional pressure on them for a back-to-back set against the Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes.
Those teams occupy the last two places in the Pacific Division, but those types of opponents are sometimes the most difficult.
“They can be because they have nothing to lose, nothing to play for, so they’re loose and can be dangerous,” Dustin Brown said. “But if you’re prepared and ready to play the right way, it shouldn’t make a difference. The games mean a lot more to us than they do to them, and we have to show that.”
The Kings didn’t show much Saturday in a loss that had more to do with a lack of commitment than Xs and O’s, all during the heat of a playoff race. They practiced Sunday with new lines and a new focus. Asked how much he hated being scored on as a player, Kings coach John Stevens said, “Hate’s not too strong a word” and related that to his players, namely Brown, Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter, in rebounding.
“I think the strength of our team and this organization has been built on people who feel like that,” Stevens said. “I think Kopi and Brownie and Jeff, go down the lineup, [it’s] our players who have always been our most committed without the puck. I think that’s why a game like [Saturday], where our top guys were on the ice in a lot of the situations, really stings them. We’re confident they’ll respond in a real positive manner.”
“One of those games you throw in the trash and go on,” Brown said. “We’ve been through it before. Those games are disappointing. But we have two games in front of us to get four points.”
Stevens moved Tanner Pearson up with Brown and Kopitar on the top line Saturday and he stayed with that in practice. Carter skated with Tobias Rieder and Trevor Lewis while the other lines were a mish-mash of the other forwards.
“We’re trying to just gauge our team, where they’re at, who’s playing well, what complements each other, situational ice time,” Stevens said. “Practice today was just about getting some reps in, maybe look at a couple of different things. What we did today doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what we do tomorrow, but we’re certainly going to take a look at it.”
UP NEXT VS. VANCOUVER
When: 7:30 p.m., Monday
On the air: TV: FSW; Radio: 790
Update: Vancouver’s leading scorer Brock Boeser is out with a back injury and was one of seven Canucks on injured reserve going into Sunday. Former Kings winger Jussi Jokinen landed in Vancouver at the trade deadline and is the fourth player in NHL history to play for four teams in one season.