It’s safe to say that Mike Richards and Jeff Carter won’t be overconfident heading into Game 4, with the Kings holding a 3-0 series lead over Vancouver. Two years ago, in the second round, Richards, Carter and the Philadelphia Flyers lost the first three games to Boston. Then, the Flyers won Game 4. And Game 5. And Game 6. And Game 7. (Incidentally, it was Simon Gagne’s overtime goal in Game 4 that kept the Flyers alive.) The Flyers became only the third NHL team to rally from a 3-0 deficit, and went on to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. Richards was asked today if he could apply anything from that experience, to guard against having the Canucks pull a similar comeback…
RICHARDS: “We can’t change anything. We obviously know we can be better. I think we can have the puck a lot more. You just have to play your game. You can’t take for granted the situation that you’re in. You have to expect the best from them. They’re going to be a hungry team and you have to bring that same hunger and match their desperation.’’
On the other hand, Richards and some of the Kings also know something about closing out big upsets. In the 2000 playoffs, Darryl Sutter coached the San Jose Sharks, the Western Conference’s eighth-seeded team, to a seven-game series win over top-seeded St. Louis before the Sharks lost in the second round. In 2006, Matt Greene and Jarret Stoll played for the Edmonton Oilers, the Western Conference’s eighth seed, which upset the Detroit Red Wings — the President’s Trophy winners — in six games. The Oilers reached the Stanley Cup Finals and lost to Carolina. In 2010, the previously mentioned Flyers were the seventh seed when they reached the Finals.
Asked about comparisons between the situation of the ‘06 Oilers and this Kings team, Greene said there weren’t many.
GREENE: “It’s a different team, a different kind of scenario. The thing that you can draw on is that no one is really out. As long as you get into the playoffs, then you can cause some damage from there. You’ve got to have confidence in your team. I think that’s what we have right now. It’s a group that has been together, and we added some good pieces, with Richards and Carter, and we got Kopitar back this year. We’re confident in our team, but the only inspiration you draw from Edmonton is that it can happen.’’
Then, there are the 2004 Calgary Flames, coached by Sutter, who reached the Stanley Cup Finals as the sixth seed in the Western Conference before they lost to Tampa Bay. Any comparisons to these Kings?
SUTTER: “This team, I’d say, is probably much younger and, through the whole roster, there is probably less playoff experience. We have guys who have won Cups and been to Finals, about seven or eight guys. That (Calgary team) was a more veteran team, a role-player team, but at the same time it was a goaltender team.’’