LOS ANGELES -- During last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs, Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter veered from routine and held morning skates at Staples Center instead of the team's South Bay practice facility. He wanted his team to get a feel for a "big-game day."
Though the Kings played in many high-intensity games on the way to the Stanley Cup last spring, they never had to play a game facing elimination. In that respect, Sutter will get what he wished for Tuesday night in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinal series against the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN).
"This is for a chance for us to defend what we have," Kings forward Justin Williams said. "There's certainly butterflies. There's everything that you can imagine. Every play's magnified and every play will be magnified, and you don't want your last game to end on a loss. You want to have good memories of the way you played in your final game.
"[The Cup run] came as a surprise last year. But this year there's a big target. There's a sense of satisfaction if someone knocks off the defending Stanley Cup champs. We don't want that to happen."