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Kings feeling mixed emotions with playoff race on

by Dan Rosen / NHL.com

WASHINGTON -- Have the Los Angeles Kings reached the point in their season where their sense of urgency to pick up points turns to desperation?

Kings coach Darryl Sutter says no; some of the Kings players say yes.

"Yeah, we're 50 games in, we're outside of a playoff spot, so desperation is in," forward Justin Williams said.

Sutter, though, refuses to associate urgency with desperation even though the Kings are three points out of a Stanley Cup Playoff spot with 32 games to play. He does not view them as one in the same.

"You have to be careful in pro sports," Sutter said. "Desperation is usually when guys slit their own throats. We'd prefer not to do that. I've never been associated with a team that does that."

Slit their own throats? Sutter clarified.

"That's what you call desperation," Sutter said. "We're not saving a country or saving a life, we're playing a game. I don't know that desperation has to do with a hockey game."

Point taken, but what if it's put in the context of where the Kings are in the standings and what lies ahead? They'll be chasing a playoff berth primarily on the road with 20 of their remaining 33 games away from Staples Center. They are 5-10-6 on the road this season; only two teams have worse road records than the Kings.

Sutter still wouldn't bite on it being a desperate time.

"We're playing Washington tonight; we're not playing anybody that's behind us or ahead of us in our standings," Sutter said. "We're playing the Washington Capitals. We'll deal with that. That's how you have success over and over and over, is you don't let anything from the outside interfere with what you're trying to do. If you do that well enough you win more than you lose, and that's kind of what we've done."

The problem is the Kings haven't won more than they've lost this season. They have 21 wins in 50 games. They haven't won two in a row since Dec. 18-20. They were 3-4-4 in January.

"We play desperate when we're on top of our game, but I don't think this situation we're in should add any desperation," Kings forward Jarret Stoll said. "I think a lot of people would think that. Nobody is panicking."

But they are starting to worry to the point where there are at least some players starting to talk about desperation, starting to believe they need to play with more of it.

"There are times when we don't have enough emotion or enough invested in games right now," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "That's on a personal level and a collective level and it's something easy to fix."

They can't wait any longer to fix it, or desperation will turn into despair.

"We know what we need to do, and it's getting invested in the games," Brown said. "It's getting to that point of the year where we're looking at the standings everyday and if you're not ready to go then you're not helping us."

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