Haggerty: Kings need to focus in for Game 6

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Haggerty: Kings need to focus in for Game 6

So the Kings have utilized the excuses and the alibis, and now openly admit there were distractions in the first two games in which they had chances to win the Stanley Cup.

Thats all well and good for a young team thats still figuring out what it takes to ultimately hoist that Cup over their heads, but even the buxom Taylor Stevens shouldnt be able to distract Los Angeles in Game 6.

This is LAs game to win, and if they dont then theyre going to be in all kinds of trouble headed back to Jersey for a potential winner-take-all Game 7 on Wednesday night. Mike Richards has been through the Cup Finals experience before, but has never come out on the winning side. He was one of LAs better players in a Game 5 that saw many of their best players (Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown) get weighed down by a Devils defense and their own expectations.

But even Richards admitted that Kings players have done a little too much imagining about their Cup moments before actually securing that fourth win against the Devils.

"Maybe. It's something that you have to handlesomething you have to go through, said Richards, who had the last big shot that Marty Brodeur stopped during a last minute flurry in the third period of Game 5. Obviously we would have liked to have won one of the last few games, but we're in a situation where we can still be better.

We have to be better to beat their team because it seems like they're getting better, too. We just have to bring our best game in Game 6.

Several Kings players mentioned the distraction of family and friends in Los Angeles that wanted to be in attendance for Game 4 and were ready to celebrate if the Cup moment was on hand. Those are the kind of real life distractions every pro athlete faces in the big moments that most outside the dressing room dont spend much time thinking about.

We don't want any distractions. I think a lot of us before Game 4 were distracted with family members and friends, the Cup coming in the building, said Doughty. A lot of things we have to put aside.

Family always comes first for everyone, but at this point of the year, the team has to come first. We're a family in the room and on the ice. Right now we're number one in everyone's mind.

The shining beacon of hope for the Kings: They have not yet played as well as they can in the Cup Finals against the Devils. The first few games appeared to have a level of rust as Los Angeles hadnt played in eight days, and now New Jersey is once again gaining momentum as they gain familiarity with their opponent. Jonathan Quick was excellent before faltering early in Game 5, and Anze Kopitar picked his spots before Jeff Carter, Richards and Dustin Penner factored largely into the middle portion of the series.

Drew Doughty has been close to dominant throughout the series, and the Kings grit players have shown up in every game.

But the entire team hasnt been powering the bus in any of the games during the series. There have been LA passengers. For example Kopitars no show in Game 5 where he was no more than a forceless phantom on the ice.

That cant happen with 60 minutes of good hockey separating hunger from elation.

We've lost a few in a row, but we could have easily won those two games, too. The Cup is going to be in the building again for Game 6. I think that's enough motivation.

At this point of the year, you don't feel the bumps and bruisesyou don't get tired. You have so much adrenaline running through your body; you want it so bad that you just put it all aside.

With the Kings 0-2 when the Stanley Cup has been polished and ready in the building, perhaps Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi can make a call to Peggy to make sure that the Stanley Cup is a little tardy arriving to LAs barn.

None of the Kings players need to see Phil Pritchard giving it the white glove treatment headed into the third period, but they might just want if a Cup winner is crowned shortly after that.

Julien: 'The less said and the more shown' is good for Bruins right now

Julien: 'The less said and the more shown' is good for Bruins right now

BRIGHTON, Mass – Claude Julien met with the media after Tuesday’s morning skate and there was a bit of a long pause between questions at one point early in the session.

“I understand because everything that needs to be said has already been said, right?” cracked the longtime Bruins bench boss, who was in good spirits after morning skate despite the turmoil around him.

It’s clearly less about words and more about results right now for a struggling team that’s lost a season-worst four games in a row in gut-punching fashion and has fallen out of a playoff position despite teams above them, Ottawa and Toronto, holding five games in hand on them. 

The Bruins are in a freefall at the worst possible time and at this point, Julien wants to see positive action and winning results from his team rather than the empty talk with the media.

“We want to respect our game plan, execute it well and that normally helps you. We’ve been a little bit all over the place, especially in the last game,” said Julien. “That’s what we addressed yesterday, moving forward.

“I haven’t used the All-Star break as a motivation. We’re basically looking at these last two games, and what we have to do in these last two games. I think we’re well aware of what’s waiting for them after that. The players normally know when the breaks are. That’s not for us right now. I’d like to see our focus on what we need to do [against the Wings] to right the ship. We’ve talked about it a lot, and I think right now the less said, and the more shown is probably the best thing.”

With two games left until the All-Star break, one has to wonder what Julien’s fate will be if the Bruins drop both games to Detroit and Pittsburgh before the group breaks up for All-Star weekend. 

A good showing might be enough to keep Julien calling the shots for the Black and Gold down the stretch this season. But the sense is that more of the same fragile, losing efforts from the Bruins in these final two home dates, a familiar look from this group over the past three seasons, could spell doom for the winningest coach in Bruins franchise history.

One thing is for sure: Words aren’t going to do anything for Julien, and instead it’s about cold, hard results for the coach and the Bruins players who are nose-diving in the middle of the regular season.


 

Rask skates, expected to play tonight vs. Red Wings

Rask skates, expected to play tonight vs. Red Wings

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins held an optional morning skate on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena with little more than a handful of B’s players skating, but the most important player to Boston success, Tuukka Rask, was taking part after missing practice on Monday.

Rask missed Monday’s practice session while getting checked out medically following his exit from Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh due to vision issues. He said on Tuesday that it was all related to migraines that have cropped up a couple of times in his NHL career. The Bruins No. 1 netminder also said he was good to play on Tuesday night against the Red Wings with just a couple of home games left until this weekend’s All-Star break.

That was the kind of good news embattled coach Claude Julien was looking for as Boston looks to end its season-worst, four-game losing streak.

“We’ve got good news so far, so that’s nice to see,” Julien said of Rask, who has started 13 of Boston’s past 14 games dating to a Dec. 27 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. “Obviously it was because of the migraines, so hopefully we won’t see much more of that.”

In other Black and Gold health news, both Colin Miller and Kevan Miller have been cleared to play, and are expected to rejoin the B’s lineup with John-Michael Liles and Joe Morrow headed for healthy scratches. Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings as the Red Wings arrive for a divisional tilt after a shootout loss for Boston last week at Joe Louis Arena:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Krejci-Backes

Schaller-Nash-Beleskey

Spooner-Moore-Hayes

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

K. Miller-C. Miller


Rask