Is this the NHL or the NFL? If the Kings and Phoenix Coyotes end up starting their Western Conference Finals series on Sunday, the Kings will have played three games in a 13-day span. Darryl Sutter is trying to ease the players back into action, while eagerly awaiting news of what day and time the Kings will play (it’s possible that we might find out tonight, if the New York Rangers win). After a day off Monday and a half-team optional practice Tuesday, the entire team practiced for approximately 45 minutes today and will practice again tomorrow morning. The Kings intend to leave for Phoenix the day before Game 1, whenever it is. Today, Sutter talked about ramping up the intensity in practice again, and players talked about not getting too full of themselves after two playoff rounds.
SUTTER: “(It’s) just trying to get them back. Some of the guys have had two-and-a-half days, and they needed it, some of them. At the same time, you’ve got to get them right back into it. And you’ve got to be careful too. Always, the worst thing, when you have a long break, is to lose somebody (to injury).”
Justin Williams, who won the Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006, said the Kings’ confidence is high right now, but should be tempered. Dustin Penner, who won the Cup with Anaheim in 2007, agreed, while captain Dustin Brown talked about the Kings’ need to properly manage their time off.
WILLIAMS: “Sure. You win eight of nine, and your confidence is going to be high. At the same time, I don’t think guys are looking too far ahead. Come playoff time, it’s teams that are playing well that are moving on, and teams that are sacrificing. Phoenix has certainly deserved everything they’ve gotten so far, as we do.”
PENNER: “You have to try to stay in the moment. Even though you have a sense of accomplishment, you have to try to kind of, a couple hours after clinching that series sweep, you’ve got to throw all that out the window, that hard work, and start over again. That’s the mentality you need, even though it creeps in sometimes, because you get more media attention and more people talking to you, (saying), `You guys are really good,’ etc., etc. You’ve got to block that out. You can’t really appreciate it until after you’ve truly done something.”
BROWN: “Everyone talks about the big break, but both teams are going to have it. We had one more day of rest than Phoenix. I think it’s a good thing, in the sense that we get to rest. It’s up to the individuals to prepare themselves. … From a player’s standpoint, it sounds funny but once you have a date for your first game, it changes a little bit. When you’re thinking, `Oh, we’re playing this weekend sometime,’ it doesn’t really help.”