The Kings will switch up their game-day routine for Game 3. Instead of having their morning skate in El Segundo and driving to Staples Center in the late afternoon, the team will stay at a downtown hotel tonight, have their skate at Staples Center and then return to the hotel until it’s time for normal pregame preparations. Darryl Sutter is known to prefer to have his team skate at the home arena when possible. From my experience, most teams hold game-day skates at the arena, but some don’t. Phoenix, for instance, moved its skates to its practice rink this season. In the Kings’ case, the utilization of El Segundo is two-fold: Staples Center is usually busy, and the practice rink is much closer to most of the players’ homes.
It’s unclear as to why exactly Sutter chose this moment to make the change. He has made a couple references to Sunday’s early start time, but I’m still not clear as to why that impacts Thursday morning’s plan. In any event, the Kings will be trying to do what they did against Vancouver, which is to win Game 3 at home after winning the first two games on the road. The St. Louis Blues, no doubt, will come out flying, just as the Canucks did in their Game 3. The Kings won that game 1-0, largely because of Jonathan Quick. Today, I asked Dustin Penner about the Kings’ need to retain their momentum from the two wins in St. Louis, and how to accomplish that.
PENNER: “I think just building a routine. We’ve gone through a routine now in the playoffs, outside of the ice. We’re staying in a hotel tonight. We’re going over the video and doing the same type of things, to just train your mind to be prepared. We’re trying to take all the guess work out of it, and we’re just focusing on all of the smaller details, like one shift at a time, instead of one game at a time.”
Sutter was asked for the reason why he moved the skate…
SUTTER: “We just haven’t done it this year. That’s one of things we talked about when I came here, was never being able to be at your own home rink. It’s just hard to do, because of the basketball schedule. It’s an opportunity for us to do that, especially with the game Sunday at noon. That’s a different start time, a little different preparation.’’
As to the need to sustain the momentum from the two games in St. Louis, Quick said Game 3 will be its own entity, and suggested that what happened in the first two games won’t matter much.
QUICK: “Momentum, it changes minute to minute during the game. To be honest with you, I don’t think we had the greatest second or third period. Obviously we won the game, so it’s easy to say that the momentum is on our side, but I think they outplayed us there in the second period. We took a ton of penalties. They created some momentum of their own there. When they drop the puck there for the start of the game (tomorrow), it could go either way. Somebody could come out harder than somebody else. The momentum is going to shift a few times throughout the game, and you’ve just got to be able, when the other team has momentum, to weather the storm. And obviously when we get it, we have to capitalize on it. That’s what the game is about.’’