-- The Los Angeles Kings
say they've completely forgotten about the gut punch they took on Friday night in Detroit, when a late one-goal lead and two standings points vanished in a matter of minutes before the final horn.
The Kings have moved onto their next game on Sunday night against the Chicago Blackhawks
-- literally and figuratively speaking.
"We don't have any other choice," Los Angeles star center Anze Kopitar
said after the Kings' optional morning skate at the United Center. "There's 14 games left and we're not in a position where we wanted to be, but we're still very much alive. We've got to look ahead. We can't worry about what happened on Friday or last month. We have to look ahead to [Sunday night] and focus on that."
That's because the Kings (31-25-12) come into the day's action 11th in the Western Conference, but just two points behind eighth-place Colorado for the last playoff spot. Calgary also has 74 points, while the San Jose Sharks
have 75 in ninth. Only four points ahead of the Kings in seventh sit the Phoenix Coyotes
, so these last 14 games ought to provide quite a bit of drama.
"We've been seventh to 11th since I've been here and two or three points either way," said Kings coach Darryl Sutter
, a former Blackhawks player and coach who joined L.A. mid-season as Terry Murray
's replacement. "It doesn't really change anything. You try to put an emphasis on each game and each game kind of takes on a life of its own. A couple teams have separated themselves at the top. A couple teams have separated themselves at the bottom. Everybody else is pretty much the same. It comes down to head-to-head [games] and move on."
Head to head against his former team has gone pretty well for Sutter thus far. He's faced the Blackhawks twice -- once at home and once here at the United Center -- and won both backed by shutouts from goalie Jonathan Quick
In fact, Quick has faced the Hawks in each of the previous three games this season and allowed just two goals against 84 shots. Chicago will have to find a way to get him off his game on Sunday night, and it won't be easy -- Hawks captain and top-line center Jonathan Toews
out for a 10th straight game with concussion symptoms.
"We've had a couple games against [the Kings] where we haven't been able to get any offense going," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville
said. "Our special teams last game weren't very effective and that's got to be a priority. We know we've got to get traffic and look for scrappy goals against this team because they play well, they check well and they play tight in their own end. That's basically got to be our thought process is getting through that area and then finding ways to score."
Chicago hasn't scored on the power play in its last two games, despite trending up with the man-advantage recently, so getting that unit working again is high on the list of things to do. Quenneville said he's probably going to see how newly-acquired defenseman Johnny Oduya
looks on one of the points of the power play, but in general is looking for his team to get in Quick's way more often.
"Whether it's 5-on-5 or on the power play, we've got to get traffic, we've got to get through and penetrate that slot area kind of like we did against the Rangers [on Friday night]," Quenneville said. "Whether it's screens, tips, deflections, second opportunities or ugly goals ... that's what we've got to look for."
will start in net for the Blackhawks (37-25-7), who are sixth in the West standings with 81 points. Toews, who skated for the fourth straight day, won't play. Neither will Hawks defenseman Steve Montador
, who skated for the first time in a week but is unavailable with an upper body injury that's believed to stem from a concussion.
Quick is expected to get the start for the Kings.