Ryan Smyth: 'It's gut-check time' as Kings try to end skid
The Kings released some details Saturday about the sale of playoff ticket strips and individual playoff tickets, which is normal procedure for a team that's in a playoff position.
Given the way they've played lately -- they entered Saturday's game against the New York Islanders at Staples Center with a record of 3-4-1 since the Olympic break -- you have to start wondering if the Kings will even make the playoffs.
They've stopped scoring and stopped playing the complete and team-oriented game they played for most of the season. They were sixth in the West entering Saturday's game and had at least one game in hand on their pursuers, but the gap from sixth to ninth had shrunk to four points.
"It's gut-check time," Ryan Smyth said after Saturday's game-day skate at El Segundo. "It's looking in the mirror. It's finding yourself and performing to the best of your abilities. Each guy brings something different to the table and it's putting our egos aside and going out and winning.
"If you're working hard your opportunities are better, so it's a matter of working through it and sticking together. You go through a little adversity in your seasons or careers and this is it. It's a matter of fighting through it."
And it's as much an emotional hurdle as a physical one, Smyth said.
"I don't think we're playing with enough urgency. We've got to find a way to overcome that and come together," he said. "We're a little spread out, disjointed.
"I think we've got the personnel in here to do it. If anything, we added a couple of players who are veterans [Fredrik Modin and Jeff Halpern]. It's just a matter of the will, the will to win. And the fight. it's not easy. Nothing comes easy in life. If you work at it it gives you an opportunity, and that's what you want -- an opportunity. Right now we're in a playoff position and we're not playing desperate enough to hold onto it, so we've got to make sure that we play shift by shift, period by period and don't look past the New York Islanders."
Coach Terry Murray had said Friday he was considering a change on defense to get Davis Drewiske in, but he decided to stay with the status quo, which will have Rob Scuderi paired with Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson with Sean O'Donnell and Randy Jones with Matt Greene.
"In the end it was the six that have been playing big games, important games for us," Murray said. "To put a player in right now with us not playing our game as well as we have been, it might be a little unfair to do that."
He did take tough guys Raitis Ivanans and Richard Clune out of the lineup and will replace them with Halpern and Scott Parse.
Parse was to play alongside Smyth and Jarret Stoll. "I'm excited to be in" Saturday night, he said. "I'm playing with good players and I've got a good opportunity here. Hopefully we work hard and do the right things and have a good game."
A few notes: The Islanders' leading scorer, with 26, is left wing Matt Moulson, who played 29 games for the Kings in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. He had six goals and 10 points in those games, a far cry from what he has produced with the Islanders. The Kings let him walk as a free agent this summer.
"Outstanding," Murray said of Moulson's performance this season. "He actually scored a couple times here with us.... He always showed, in the few games that he played here, a pretty good sense on the offensive part of the game. Now he's getting his opportunity.
"What's he doing? He's getting his opportunity to play on a consistent basis. At the start with [John] Tavares. They had very good chemistry going right from the very beginning. I know he's moved around a bit recently but he continues to go to the net. He's got a good stick around the net. He scored against us in the Island [on Oct. 12] just on a low-slot rebound, get-it-back-to-the-net attitude."
One last Moulson note: he will become the brother-in-law of Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick this summer when he marries a sister of Quick's wife, Jaclyn.
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-- Helene Elliott