Kings’ coach wants team to want more than making playoffs
SAN JOSE -- The Kings got out of San Jose and declined to glance back Saturday night, not dwelling on blown third-period leads against the Sharks and the absence of intensity at crucial junctures.
They squandered two-goal leads twice in three days against the Sharks, once in Los Angeles and the other at HP Pavilion in a 3-2 overtime loss to San Jose in the regular-season finale. Their slide in the standings means a first-round playoff series against the league’s No. 1 team, the Canucks. Game 1 is Wednesday in Vancouver.
“It’s playoffs now. You don’t shake up anything,” Kings center Jarret Stoll said. “We know we have a good team. We prepare for Vancouver and we’ve played them well. We’re not playing the San Jose Sharks. We’re playing the Vancouver Canucks.”
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter noticed a difference in his team, starting Thursday night before the Sharks game. The Kings learned shortly beforehand that they were in the playoffs because Dallas had been eliminated from contention.
He noted they were “satisfied” with being a playoff team.
“Now my responsibility is to make sure they’re not satisfied anymore,” Sutter said.
Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi had spoken, even before the finale, about the sharp edge of desperation gone missing after so many weeks of being on the brink. Captain Dustin Brown concurred.
“I don’t think we were nearly as sharp,” Brown said. “We’ve blown two leads and we haven’t done that in a long time, back to back like that. We’ve been on edge for a while. I don’t know if it’s a letdown. We maybe weren’t as focused to the details.
“But I don’t think it was a lack of effort or any of that. Who knows? At the end of the day, it really doesn’t make a difference.
“We had an opportunity to win the division and we kind of blew it. You just hit the reset button now and you get ready because it’s a brand-new season now.”
This is a rematch of the first-round series between the Kings and the Canucks two years ago, which Vancouver won in six games. Of note, the Kings had a 2-1 lead in the series but blew a third-period lead in Game 4 at Staples Center, the turning point of that first-round meeting.
How much have the Kings grown since the 2010 playoffs?
“Probably the biggest thing is the experience,” Brown said, “not only the playoff experience. But it hasn’t been easy for this team; a lot of it is we put ourselves in tough situations, but we’ve managed to persevere and find a way into the playoffs, each and every year.
“That goes a long way and we’ve been playing playoff [type] games for two, three weeks. It’s just a matter of taking the next couple of days and getting one, rest, and two, prepared to play the Canucks.”
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