Ryan Smyth has been there before.
It was Game 1 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals, his Edmonton Oilers against Justin Williams’ Carolina Hurricanes. The Oilers led 4-1 after two periods in Raleigh before losing 5-4. The series went the full seven games before Carolina won.
“It really set the shifting of that game, in my opinion, in their favor,” said Smyth, one of the Kings’ veteran leaders, with Williams sitting a few feet away in the team’s locker room after practice. “But we battled hard. We stayed in the series. We obviously pushed it to (Game) 7.”
Willie Mitchell has been there before, too.
Down three games to one to the Colorado Avalanche in the 2003 playoffs, his Minnesota Wild won three straight to advance to the second round.
“Sometimes individuals have to go through that in order to know how to handle it,” the Kings defenseman said. “The roles have been reversed the other way. We won 4-0 up in San Jose, it was the same thing. It’s a learning experience for some guys on this team who haven’t been through that.”
The Kings’ 6-5 loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 3 of their first-round series Tuesday was nothing new to several of the teams’ veterans. The Kings, Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators are the youngest teams participating in the playoffs (average age: 26.9).
Head coach Terry Murray complimented the older players Wednesday, when the Kings went back practice trying to put Tuesday’s debacle behind them.
“After the game, the guys were talking as I walked in to address the team. I try to leave them a couple minutes before I do that, so they can get stuff off their own chest,” Murray said.
“There were guys that were pissed off. They’re saying the right things. That’s the way a locker room should be. They’re challenging each other to be better the next game.”
There was certainly an effect on the faces of players the day after. Many were even smiling.
The reason was simple, defenseman Matt Greene said.
“I bet every guy today was coming to practice wishing they were playing a game,” said Greene, who was also on the losing end of Game 1 of the 2006 Finals. “You want another chance to go back out there and redeem yourself.”
More notes in tomorrow’s editions, including Bill Ranford’s take on Jonathan Quick’s game, and the (lack of) lineup changes in practice Wednesday.