Kings feeling no pressure to claim Cup in second chance

782552.jpg

Kings feeling no pressure to claim Cup in second chance

NEWARK, NJ In all four playoff rounds the Los Angeles Kings have burst out to 3-0 leads against the Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues, Phoenix Coyotes and the New Jersey Devils.
In three of those four series theyve dropped Game Four, and had to dispatch their opponents in five games. In the second round series against the Blues they just steamrolled them in four games.

So theres a pattern here for a dominant Kings bunch to follow, and the pattern would dictate that Jersey might be in trouble in Game 5 at the Prudential Center coming off a 3-1 victory that helped extend the series. At least thats the Kings theory and theyre sticking to it while head coach Darryl Sutter insists theyre feeling no pressure.

I think there was a letdown after not sealing the deal in Game4 with our home crowd, admitted Kings Captain Dustin Brown. Everyone wakes up the next morning and understands the situation we're in, not only the opportunity but the responsibility to be better in Game 5.

It's been a long, long playoff obviously. Emotionally and physically you're going to be tired. It's a matter of finding the next gear. I think it's pretty much an even playing ground when you consider fatigue because each teams have gone through three series and are battling as hard as they can. It's really about just finding the next gear. The team that does normally wins.

The Kings would close out their playoff run at 16-3 in four postseason rounds if they can win their first Stanley Cup title in nearly 50 years as an NHL franchise, and thats the kind of dominance that rarely rears its head in the NHL these days.

Thats 1988 Edmonton Oilers kind of dominance through the playoff field, but Sutter said his team hasnt changed with another chance to clinch their Cup.

You know what? We haven't changed. I haven't seen a big change in our team emotionally for almost two months now, said Sutter. I think we've been able to handle different situations. I think they've learned, because of the breaks we had before Series 2 and before Series 3, the breaks they had, they had to learn to get their space.

They had to get back to being focused and reloaded. They've done a good job of that. You leave it to your veterans, reinforce it with the kids.

Instead Sutter was focusing on June 9 as Farmers Day in the rural Alberta farmland where he grew up, and would include recreational activity like coolers in the park. That simple farmers thought puts things into perspective for the Kings coach headed into the biggest game of the franchises history with yet another chance to grasp hockey greatness.

Backes: Bruins were ‘wounded’ after ugly Detroit loss

Backes: Bruins were ‘wounded’ after ugly Detroit loss

BRIGHTON, Mass – It certainly sounded like there were some things that made the Wednesday night loss in Detroit a little different for the Bruins.

The Bruins media corps conducted postgame interviews in the hallway rather than in the visiting dressing room after what must have been a combustible atmosphere immediately following the shootout defeat. 

There was also evidence of anger in the visitor’s dressing room at Joe Louis Arena, according to reports, with a door off its hinges when the media was able to get a look inside the dressing room area.

David Backes confirmed something was different about the loss after blowing a pair of three-goal leads, and failing to follow up their dreadful no-show vs. the Islanders with a winning performance against another bad team in Detroit. The B’s forward said the plane ride home from Detroit was solemn and quiet, and that it was clear the Bruins team was “wounded” after a crushing loss.

“Both [losses] can be great lessons if we learn from it, and neither was very enjoyable. That was probably the quietest I think our guys were all year on that plane ride home from Detroit,” said Backes. “To me, that’s a great sign that it hit us in the heart, and it hit us where it really mattered. We’re thinking about how we can turn the tide and thinking about we can be victorious the next time out.

“We had the lead, and in a lot of instances you’re expecting, as you should, to come out of there with two points. We’re at the time in the season where wins need to be garnered and taken home.

“There were a lot of aspects where we should have grabbed the game back. When you feel like you’ve had a lot of opportunities to take the game and you don’t do it, it’s not a good feeling. I was reflecting on that during a very quiet team plane ride back from Detroit, and it seemed pretty clear that the whole team was feeling wounded. I think it’s a good sign that guys were feeling that way, and that means they’re going to do everything in their power to not have that feeling again.”

The words are encouraging from a 32-year-old natural leader in Backes, who has seen good times and bad as captain of the St. Louis Blues in his 10-year NHL career. But the proof is ultimately on the ice where the Bruins have games against the Blackhawks and Penguins coming up and face some very stiff tests coming off a couple of losses against the worst teams in the East that exposed Black and Gold fragility at this point in the season. 


 

After knee injury, Beleskey set to return for Bruins vs. Blackhawks

After knee injury, Beleskey set to return for Bruins vs. Blackhawks

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins, looking for a spark after terrible, back-to-back losses to the New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings, are hoping the return of Matt Beleskey from a knee injury can help provide the inspiration. 

The blue-collar left winger has missed the past 23 games with a torn MCL in his right knee suffered in early December against the Buffalo Sabres, but now he’s easing back into the lineup on the fourth line in Friday night’s showdown with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Beleskey was skating with Dominic Moore and Austin Czarnik on the fourth line at morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena and should be expected to throw a few hard hits and play with some intensity in his return.

“I’m ready to go and excited to get back out there,” said Beleskey, who has been skating with the team for roughly a week after giving the knee sufficient time to heal. “I’ve just got to keep it simple and do what I do well: Be hard on pucks, take the body and just try and find your groove. You don’t want to expect too much in your first game back, but you just want to be able to contribute.

“’I’ve been saving [the pent-up energy] for a while, so I’m ready to get back out there and hopefully provide a spark for us.”

The Beleskey return also provides the player with a bit of a reset button after a slow start to the season that saw him with two goals and five points along with a minus-6 rating in 24 games played for the Black and Gold prior to his injury. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairs against the Blackhawks based on morning skate today:

Marchand-Bergeron-Vatrano

Schaller-Krejci-Pastrnak

Spooner-Nash-Backes/Hayes

Beleskey/Blidh-Moore-Czarnik

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-Liles

 

Rask