There’s no sense denying the fact that the Los Angeles Kings are unhappy about being eliminated from the playoffs. Still, just moments after the Calgary Flames crushed their hopes, some reactions give you the sense that the team hasn’t lost sight of some resounding accomplishments.
Head coach Darryl Sutter was mainly talking about the effort on Thursday when he praised his team to LA Kings Insider, yet it felt like he could have been discussing the season at large.
“We played hard. I got no complaints about anything to do with our team,” Sutter said. “Give the Calgary Flames lots of credit. Now, I get to pull for them.”
The Kings carried themselves like a team that has won two recent championships, even giving the Flames some kudos (beyond Sutter, who has some simple reasons to root for a franchise he toiled for years ago):
Even Kings bloggers seem to have some nice perspective on the situation.
Well, sort of.
Again, don’t get things twisted; the team is obviously upset about this letdown.
Still, you get the impression that the Kings still believe that they have the makings of a contender going forward. Assuming, of course, that there aren’t big changes this summer.
“As a defending Cup champion I don’t think there’s any way that you shouldn’t make the playoffs the next year,” Drew Doughty said to the Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott. “It’s disappointing especially because of the group we had. Or have.”
A tight salary cap situation would indicate that the Kings probably will stick with this group, minus some key pieces (perhaps including Mr. Game 7, Justin Williams). Even if the message comes with a heavy heart, one cannot help but feel as if the Kings are really saying “We’ll be back.”
This made things interesting for a bit between the L.A. Kings and Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.
Down two goals just before the midway point of the third period, Kings’ defenseman Drew Doughty blasted a slap shot from center ice on Oilers goalie Richard Bachman. The puck somehow squeezed through Bachman’s legs, into the net, getting the desperate Kings back within a goal in a crucial game for the defending champs.
It wasn’t enough, however, as the Oilers held on for the 4-2 win, putting the Kings on the brink of elimination from playoff contention.
The Edmonton Oilers have a chance to get some revenge on the Los Angeles Kings for last week’s embarrassing 8-2 defeat at Staples Center.
You see, the Kings are in Edmonton tonight, and a loss for the defending champs would deal a serious blow to their playoff hopes.
“They embarrassed us last time, and frankly, I thought we looked like a junior team out there,” said Oilers forward Rob Klinkhammer, per the Edmonton Sun. “It was ugly. We just have to come in with a chip on our shoulder, play hard and play the right way. We can’t feed their game, they are super hungry, they’re making a push for the playoffs and they are a great team. We have to have our best game if we want to have a chance.”
Another factor in Edmonton’s favor, besides revenge, could be fatigue. The Kings played last night in Vancouver, where they lost 2-1 in a shootout. Drew Doughty logged almost 30 minutes in that one. Jonathan Quick was similarly busy in goal, where he faced 38 Canuck shots. There’s even been speculation Martin Jones could get the start tonight.
Of course, while the Oilers haven’t played since Saturday, they’re not counting on a diminished opponent.
“If we have the same effort that we had the other night in L.A., it’s going to be the same result,” said Taylor Hall.
Los Angeles, still battling for a playoff spot, has made life harder on itself with back-to-back losses on Saturday and Monday. The Kings will try to rebound Thursday versus Edmonton, but they might have to do so without the services of defenseman Andrej Sekera. The 28-year-old was hurt late in the second period of last night’s contest against Chicago.
“He fell on my leg, and I felt something went wrong, and that was the night for me,” Sekera told LA Kings Insider.
The Kings gave the Carolina Hurricanes a first-round draft pick and prospect Roland McKeown to acquire Sekera on Feb. 25. His presence has been a factor in Drew Doughty going from nearly 30 minutes per contest to an average of 27:26 minutes in March.
Sekera has a goal, four points, a plus-four rating, and has averaged 19:12 minutes per contest in 16 games with Los Angeles.
He’ll be evaluated today.
How bad are things for the Kings after Monday?
Drew Doughty is undeniably one of the best defensemen in hockey. Just 25 years old, he’s already hoisted the Stanley Cup twice and won a pair of Olympic gold medals.
But one thing he hasn’t won is the Norris Trophy.
Why is that anyway?
Well, one possibility is that he hasn’t deserved to yet.
Or, maybe he has, but playing in Los Angeles has hurt his chances with Eastern-based voters.
Or, maybe he’d have a better shot if he scored more points, like recent winners Erik Karlsson, P.K. Subban and Duncan Keith.
Regardless, while he’d love to win the Norris one day (“there’s no doubt about it”), he’s “not going to do anything different to try” and win an individual award.
Related: Keith edges Weber, Chara for his second Norris Trophy