Kings need quick turnaround--and a turnaround for Jonathan Quick--before they can celebrate
In two of their last three games the Kings have unwittingly been a footnote to history.
In losing last Thursday at Vancouver they allowed the Canucks to clinch the President’s trophy and top overall seeding in the playoffs. On Monday their 6-1 loss at San Jose allowed the Sharks to clinch a fourth consecutive Pacific division title.
Neither experience was a happy one for the Kings.
“It’s not fun at all, especially Vancouver. We’ve had a pretty good rivalry against them the last little bit,” forward Brad Richardson said. “It’s never easy seeing that team beat you or clinch the league.”
The Kings hoped to do some clinching of their own Tuesday night. To secure a playoff spot they need to gain two points or to have Dallas fail to get two points in its last four games, and the Stars are at home Tuesday to face the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Kings next play Wednesday, when they face Phoenix at Staples Center.
“There is no conversation. Quick’s our No. 1 goaltender. He’s the guy that we’re riding,” Coach Terry Murray said after the team practiced Tuesday in El Segundo.
“We get to the last two games here we’ll see how it is, but my plan going back quite a while was to get Bernier in one of those two games. We’ll see if I follow through.”
Murray tinkered with his defense pairs toward the end of Monday’s game but went back to pairings of Rob Scuderi-Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez-Matt Greene, and Willie Mitchell-Jack Johnson. He did swap right wings on two lines, putting Dustin Brown on the right with Ryan Smyth and Jarret Stoll and placing Oscar Moller alongside Dustin Penner and Michal Handzus.
While most players said they tried to forget Monday’s rout, Mitchell said knowing that the Sharks rejoiced at the Kings’ expense motivated him.
“If we want to take the next step as a hockey club to get to the next level and be one of those teams that are celebrating winning their division or the President’s trophy, we’ve got to find ways to beat those teams in a high-pressure situation,” Mitchell said.
“That’s part of developing, part of a young team getting older and getting more familiar with those games and being calm under pressure and not panicking, staying with your same game plan no matter what happens. Those are learning experiences and you don’t learn them without going through them in life and we’re going to use them to grow as a team."
Mitchell said the Kings’ bench “started to get a little panicky” when the Sharks began flying in the second period, and must get better at maintaining its poise.
“It’s something that we’ve got to get out of that habit. Just because a team scores a couple goals doesn’t mean you have to panic,” Mitchell said. “We were playing pretty well at the start considering how hard they were playing. They came out playing really well.
“That’s part of growing, part of learning, but part of growing and learning is being aware of the game you played before. But you also have to realize it’s just kind of a hiccup over the course of the season and you get prepared and play the next one.”
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Photo: San Jose Sharks center Jamal Mayers (10) skates with the puck in front of Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) during the first period at HP Pavilion April 4, 2011. Credit: Jason O. Watson / US Presswire