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.

Bruins fall into second wild-card spot as Leafs win again

Bruins fall into second wild-card spot as Leafs win again

Things went about as badly as they could have for the Bruins on Wednesday night, resulting in them waking up Thursday morning as the second wild-card team . . . and just a couple of missteps from being out of the playoff structure entirely.

The Toronto Maple Leafs took down the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-2, and the New York Islanders came back to beat the New York Rangers, 3-2, so both teams gained ground on the idle B’s. Toronto has passed the Bruins by a point for third place in the Atlantic Division with a game still in hand, and the Isles are just two points behind the Bruins while also holding a game in hand.

According to Hockey Reference’s web site the Bruins still have a 78.3 percent chance of making the playoffs, but that number dropped significantly from where it was prior to the back-to-back losses to Toronto and Ottawa earlier this week.

The Bruins remain very much in control of their destiny, but they need wins against Tampa Bay on Thursday and (especially) against the Isles in Brooklyn this weekend.

All of this is because the Bruins have hit their first bump under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, a three-game losing streak that eroded the playoff cushion they enjoyed over the teams chasing them. It's raised some blood-pressure levels locally, since the B’s have missed the playoffs in each of the last two years due to late season collapses (going 3-8-1 in their final 12 games last year, and losing 9 of their final 14 two years ago).

“You have to obviously look forward. [You] definitely don’t dwell on the past and don’t look at the past two years,” said Patrice Bergeron following the loss to Ottawa on Tuesday night. “It’s not even something we should think about at this point. It’s about us finding ways and us obviously being better and finding ways to win games. We’re playing good hockey, but not good enough to get the result.”
 
They'll attempt to get back on track tonight against the Lightning, who come to town just five points behind Boston and also badly in need of a win as they're riding their own three-game losing streak.

Krug: Bruins collapse 'is not going to happen this year'

Krug: Bruins collapse 'is not going to happen this year'

BOSTON – Having lost three games in a row for the first time under Bruce Cassidy at time of year when you can’t drop into losing streaks, Bruins fans clearly want some sense of surety when it comes to the B’s making the playoffs.

Well, they got an ironclad guarantee from Torey Krug after he was the best B’s player on the ice in a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden. Krug has been a part of the teams that collapsed in each of the past two seasons and the puck-moving defenseman said things are going to be different this time around with nine games to go.

“I haven’t thought about it, I haven’t talked about it. It’s a different feeling this year. [A collapse] is not going to happen this year. I know we’ve got a lot of pride in this room,” said Krug, who elevated his game and scored on a nifty, Bobby Orr-esque one-man rush up the ice in the third period. He also had a team-high seven shots on net and led the B’s in ice time in the loss. “The guys that have been through it. There’s no other option except making sure we stay on course and take care and do our jobs.

“You feel like you played pretty well and things didn’t go your way. You make a big mistake and it cost you. You got to realize what’s done is done, and we have an important task on Thursday [vs. the Lightning]. We’ve got to come to the rink with no other option except winning that game. That’s the mindset we’ve got to have.”

The Black and Gold are still in a pretty good position when it comes to the playoffs, even if their lead over Toronto in the Atlantic Division is precarious right now. But it ultimately comes down to Boston summoning against Tampa Bay and the Islanders what they didn’t, or couldn’t, against Toronto and Ottawa, and making good on Krug’s defiant words following a bitter defeat.