Kings no longer "fragile"
Watch the Kings for any length of time and you’ll see that unlike in previous seasons, they don’t fold in the face of adversity. That helps to explain the Kings’ three comeback wins on their just-completed 5-0 trip, and it’s a state of mind they’ll need to sustain as they begin a stretch of five home games in the six games leading up to the Olympic break.
Before their trip to Detroit, Toronto, Columbus, Boston and New Jersey, the Kings had a seven-game homestand and were a mediocre 3-4. The 14-9-2 home record they took into Tuesday’s game against the New York Rangers at Staples Center ranked only 11th in the West, and it’s an area they’d like to improve.
With his team carrying a six-game winning streak Coach Terry Murray planned only a few minor lineup changes: he reinstated forwards Raitis Ivanans and Brandon Segal and took out forward/defenseman Peter Harrold and winger Teddy Purcell. But the most important changes have come not in personnel but in attitude, and they’re team-wide.
“I think last year when we went through some difficult times like that, there showed a consistent fragile state of mind,” Murray said. “We just felt on the bench maybe too often that, ‘Oh, this is too hard. We just kind of have to get through this and get ourselves ready to play the next game.’
“We started to figure it out last year, that you still have an opportunity to dig in and play. And this year even moreso, there’s leadership in there that says the right things, does the right things on the ice, talks about it at the right time, and the young guys are just soaking it all up. They want to improve their game. They want to be contributors to a team in the National Hockey League and develop their game and they’re absorbing everything that’s being said out there.”
Murray also said he wasn’t concerned about his team experiencing a letdown in its first home game after such a successful trip.
“I’m going to address it here tonight,” he said before the game. “The players in the room know the situation…We have awareness to what happened and we just need to continue to play.”
Goaltender Jonathan Quick, riding a career-high six-game winning streak, was scheduled to start against the Rangers. During his streak he has had a 2.11 goals-against average and .928 save percentage.
More later at www.latimes.com/sports