The Los Angeles Kings
are well aware of their position in the Western Conference playoff race.
But they're not willing to look behind them when they face the Calgary Flames
on Wednesday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome -- a team the Kings hold a one-point advantage over with a game at hand in the wild West.
"We're fully aware of that," defenseman Drew Doughty
said. "We're not too worried about where they are. We just have to worry about ourselves. No matter who we're playing, we have to win every night at this point of the season. Tonight's pretty much a four-point game. It's a must-win game."
couldn't disagree with Doughty.
"It's not just the damage we can do, it can set ourselves up for a good finish," he said. "It's obviously a big game for both clubs. It's going to be an emotional, high intensity game."
Coach Darryl Sutter
isn't worried so much about the team across the ice as earning the victory and the two points that come with it.
"It's two points," Sutter said. "Again, it's really important for everybody. There's the top teams, then there's the teams that have a chance of winning a division, then there's a bunch of guys fighting for seventh and eighth place. Either you're seventh or eighth, or you're not. It's pretty simple."
Though the Flames are nipping at their heels, Kopitar said there is no extra motivation to all but bury the Flames by handing them a loss this late in the season.
"This time of the year, you really don't need it," he said. "Every game is like a playoff game. It's obviously really nice if you can separate yourself from the other teams, and that's what we're trying to do tonight."
Doughty hopes the Kings can show a little more.
"There's no doubt in our minds that we're a better team than them and we just have to show that," he said. "We have to come out hard in the first period, take it to them and let them know we're going to be the hardest-working team out there."
And if they're successful, the ninth-place Kings will find themselves back in a playoff position.
Here's the projected lineup for the Kings:
- Anze Kopitar
- Justin Williams
- Mike Richards
- Jeff Carter
- Jarret Stoll
- Trevor Lewis
- Colin Fraser
- Jordan Nolan
- Drew Doughty
- Slava Voynov
- Matt Greene