Kings' Young Guns aiming for continued playoff success
After defeating the Sharks at San Jose on Saturday to extend their first-round playoff series to a sixth game Monday night at Staples Center, the Kings say they’re calm and have a game plan that will get them to a seventh game Wednesday at HP Pavilion.
“We got our confidence up. We got the last one,” right wing Wayne Simmonds said. “I think we’ve just got to come home and kind of picture it as an away game and just play the same way and keep it simple, the same way as we do on the road.”
The Kings are 2-1 at San Jose but 0-2 at home after losing Games 3 and 4.
“Everyone feels good. We’re confident in ourselves,” Simmonds said. “We’ve had our bad games and we’ve had good games this year and I think we’ve learned from what we haven’t done right in all those bad games and we’re ready to do it right now.”
Simmonds has teamed with rookie left wing Kyle Clifford and center Brad Richardson to form the Kings’ most effective line in the series. Together they’ve accounted for six goals and 13 points, with Clifford and Richardson sharing the team lead with five points each.
They have smarts, jump, physicality and the willingness to pay the price to make a play — everything, it seems, except a nickname like the Triple Crown line or so many other lines have had throughout NHL history.
Readers sent in suggestions following my column on this trio, and after passing those suggestions along to the players, they now have a nickname: Young Guns. It's a reflection of their age — Richardson is 26, Simmonds 22 and Clifford merely 20 — and the Western-themed nicknames they gave each other during the season.
“That works for me,” said Clifford. “I like that.”
Said Richardson: “I like that. And it was a good movie. Works for me.”
Some other suggestions from readers were Baby Boomers, Barrage a Trois, Kingstown Trio and All the Kings Men. Thanks to all who shared their ideas.
Whatever the trio’s name, what’s most important for the Kings is that all three continue working as diligently and effectively as they have in the first five games.
“I think we just keep doing the exact same things that we’ve been doing,” Simmonds said. “We’re getting the puck in our zone then just getting to the red [line] and getting it deep immediately, and that seems to be working for us. So I think we’re just going to keep on doing what we’ve been doing.”
Richardson said the mood was good after Monday morning's meetings and optional game-day skate. "I would say confidence. There’s no reason not to be," he said. "We won our last game. They have a lot of pressure on them. They’re the ones that are supposed to win this series.
"They’re obviously the favorites going in but we’re confident in our game. We feel good. So we’re just going to go out and have fun and try and get back and play that game that we've played the last game and the couple games before that."
Check back soon for more, including thoughts from Kings captain Dustin Brown on what he and his teammates learned from facing playoff elimination at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks last year in the sixth game of that series. They lost that game, 4-2, last April 25.
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Kings left wing Kyle Clifford, left, celebrates with center Brad Richardson and right wing Wayne Simmonds after scoring a goal against San Jose on April 19. Credit: Kirby Lee / Image of Sport / US Presswire