Skip to main content

Kings all business as they head for Chicago

by Curtis Zupke

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Fewer than 40 hours will have elapsed from when the Los Angeles Kings eliminated the Anaheim Ducks in Game 7 to the puck drop against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final.

That didn't stop the Kings from conducting a morning skate at their practice facility Saturday, using whatever adrenaline was left over from their second-round series win Friday night before they boarded a plane for Chicago. Game 1 is Sunday at United Center (3 p.m. ET; NBC, TSN, RDS).

"I think you just have to reset quickly," Kings center Jarret Stoll said. "You have no other choice, no other option. We're excited. We got a little extra added energy [Friday] night after that win. The boys were coming in this morning, and the tunes were going and it was a happy room in here. We're looking forward to getting on the plane and heading into Chicago and preparing for a Game 1 win. It's been our whole mindset with this group the whole way through, going into tough buildings and winning and battling it out."

Sunday will be the 15th Stanley Cup Playoff game in 33 days for the Kings. They are coming off back-to-back seven-game series and have won eight of 11 games since they were down 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks in the first round.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter carried a bag over his shoulder when he greeted reporters, a sure sign he wanted nothing more than to get to their destination as quickly as possible. This is old hat for Los Angeles, which started every series on the road in its 2012 Stanley Cup run and lost the first two games on the road against the St. Louis Blues in last year's conference quarterfinals, only to come back and win the series 4-2.

"I'm not sure about the energy part of it, but I know how we handle losses and how we handle wins and how we handle travel, so you know they're going to be honest in their preparation," Sutter said. "You can trust that part of it. It will be certainly about their putting forth their best effort, I know that."

Los Angeles could get defenseman Willie Mitchell back in the lineup at some point in the series. Mitchell participated in drills Saturday, an encouraging sign. He has been out since April 28 with a lower-body injury Sutter revealed is "a muscle injury related to a knee injury."

"He was buzzing around out there," Stoll said. "Jeez, I told him to save some for [Sunday] if he's in, hopefully."

Sutter was more cautious, although he tends to guard injury updates closely.

"I think we could see him during the series," Sutter said. "It can't be one of those deals where you get a guy for five minutes. You need to know that you've got him for the whole game. So until the trainers and doctors and player tell me that, then that's pretty much what you do."

Los Angeles might be better prepared health-wise this time around against Chicago. Last postseason, they did not have center Mike Richards for the series because of a concussion, and Stoll was returning from one.

Los Angeles lost the first two games to the Blackhawks and was eliminated in five games. As resilient as the Kings are, defenseman Drew Doughty said a deficit won't work against the defending champions.

"Against a team like this, if we go down 2-0, 3-0, it's going to be really hard to come back," Doughty said. "They're ex-Stanley Cup champs for a reason. They have a great team. They have very good players on that team. They're coached well. We definitely can't put ourselves in a hole."

Chicago will have had four days off to rest its banged-up players. That's not a good recipe from Los Angeles' perspective.

"You don't have a choice," Doughty said. "You've just got to do whatever it takes to get back, reset, start focusing on a brand new team. Forget about the win [Friday] night already. We really had no time to celebrate or anything like that. You just have to do it. It's the bottom line. If you don't do it, you're going to lose the series. I think all of our guys are ready to reset. We have a few days in between games throughout the series, so we should be fine."

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.