The concept of puck luck is not a new one. Teams have always wailed about the injustice of pucks striking goal posts or crossbars instead of twine. The Kings tried to wave away such talk Sunday afternoon, one day before taking their third crack at winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in their inglorious 45-year history.
Hard work, not luck, is what will bring them a championship.
Or so they said on the eve of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center.
“I mean, hey, you just move on,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “It’s like I told the players, you can tell them they played good or you can tell them they played bad. It doesn’t really matter, right? It’s about the next game. We know how hard we play and we know how to re-create that.
“It’s not about winning and losing. Even last night, I know it’s a series, we lost the game. But to me it’s not about winning and losing, it’s about getting that sort of an honest performance from your group. Do that, you’re satisfied.”
–Facing serious adversity
The Kings’ regular season unfolded with one large hurdle to clear after another, including a mid-season coaching change, injuries and too many losses to remember. The playoffs have been a different story, at least until the last few days, anyway.
“I think we had a lot of it this year with the coaching change, battling to get to the playoffs,” left wing Simon Gage said. “That takes a lot of character to get through that. We know how to deal with it. It seems in the playoffs, we had it a little bit easier than people think. At the same time we had to go into Vancouver and win Game 5, and Phoenix (and win) Game 5. Now we have another challenge in front of us. It’s going to be the first time we’re in the series 3-2. It will be a first challenge for us and we’ll take that, for sure.”
–Too many distractions?
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said rather candidly that he and his teammates didn’t handle their preparation for Game 4 well, falling victim to the needs and desires of family and friends before trying and failing to secure the Cup last Wednesday. He vowed things would be different this time.
“We don’t want any distractions,” Doughty said. “I think a lot of us before Game 4 were distracted with family members and friends, the Cup coming in the building. 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 (dressing) room, on the ice.
“Right now we’re number one in everyone’s mind.”
–Changes? What changes?
Sutter didn’t want to touch a reporter’s question about what, if any, changes he might make for Game 6, saying simply, “I don’t think I need to discuss it if we were.”