Boston, MA- The Los Angeles Kings are hoping to use tonight's game against the Boston Bruins to catapult their confidence for the remainder of the six-game road-trip by defeating the Eastern Conference's elite squad.
"The Bruins are one of the top teams in the league," said defenseman Jack Johnson. "If we want to make the playoffs we've got to beat teams like them to get in and stay afloat. This is a big game for us."
The Kings trail Edmonton by seven points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 13 games left to play, but with one of the league's youngest team's head coach Terry Murray says that this experience will help his team in the future.
"We're a young hockey club that is headed in the right direction," said the Kings first-year head coach. "It's very important that you approach these games with a playoff mentality and take something from this that's going to be there for you in the future.
Kings captain Dustin Brown
untied his skates and talked excitedly about the future for this club, knowing that the present could still lead to LA's first playoff appearance since
"It's the first-time since 2002 I've been in LA that these games meant something," said Brown who leads the Kings with 242 hits delivered to opponents. "It's also a big learning experience and growth period for this team. Not only for this season, but for years to come."
Jonathan Quick is expected to return to the lineup today.
The Boston Bruins once insurmountable Eastern Conference point edge is all but gone with the New Jersey Devils breathing down their necks for the top spot, trailing by only four points with a game in hand.
The B's have lost 12 of 18, including a 6-4 setback on Sunday in Pittsburgh.
"The intensity is one thing, I think the focus on team play is another," said Bruins second-year head coach Claude Julien describing the recent slide. "You make too many mistakes, the puck ends up in your net and I think we have to rectify that."
Boston will be bolstered by the return to the lineup tonight of fourth-line center Stephane Yelle who along with defenseman Aaron Ward are the lone Bruins to hoist the Stanley Cup.
"It's just the little things," said Yelle who has 18 points in 66 games for Boston. "We've been inconsistent in doing the little details of the game, night in and night out. We have 11 games left and that's what our focus needs to be."
Kings rookie forward Teddy Purcell is making the most out of his most recent call-up to the NHL with seven points in his last eight games (3-4-7).
"So far I think I've been pretty consistent," the 23-year-old said. "I know what it takes a little bit better this time and I've prepared myself better and know what it takes to make myself successful."
Kings coach Terry Murray has been pleased with how the University of Maine product has played a more complete game since his call-up on on February 24th.
"He has scored and that's what he has to do on a consistent basis, give us points," said Murray. "He's also playing a more complete game and he's digging and understanding that the board battle is an important part of the game."
Tonight Purcell will be paired on the top Kings offensive line playing right wing with Dustin Brown on the left and Anze Kopital centering.
"To be paired with those guys, who're elite guys in the league, is pretty special," said Purcell who has played 38 career games and has 5 goals and 12 assists.
WESTGARTH FIGHTS TO SAY IN LA
Princeton pugilist Kevin Westgarth is in a different boat than many other former Manchester Monarchs trying to make the jump into the NHL.
Westgarth isn't going to impress Kings brass with hat tricks or fancy stick work.
He needs to intimidate opponents with his fists and hits.
"Playing on the fourth-line, you're there to provide energy and create that physical presence," said the 6 ft 4, 245 lb Westgarth who knocked the Philadelphia Phantoms Garrett Klotz unconscious in a bout in January.
The 25-year-old says he won't watch video on potential bout opponents like the Bruins Milan Lucic or Shawn Thornton, but will rely on his veteran teammates scouting reports.
"I'm not a big research guy," said the Ivy league school grad who has nine penalty minutes in seven games with LA, but had 146 PIM's in 55 games for Manchester in the AHL this year.
"I like to know who will go and it's a great to play with veteran guys who've been around the league. Matt Greene has been a great help. Derek Armstrong is another guy who'll let me know who's a lefty or who will try to get the jump on you."
Compiled by Chris Ryan | Special to LAKings.com