May 9, 2012 5:30 pm

Kings rely on playoff-tested players

The Stanley Cup-championship experience on the Kings’ roster has been well-chronicled, and much of it is recent: Colin Fraser in 2010, Rob Scuderi in 2009, Dustin Penner in 2007 and Justin Williams in 2006. Add to that players such as Jeff Carter, Matt Greene, Mike Richards and Jarret Stoll, who have been to the Cup Finals and lost, and the Kings have a few players who are not in uncharted waters. Reaching the conference finals is a big step, and the Kings have been getting a lot of pats on the back — in print and over the air and, literally, from excited fans — but they’re only halfway to their goal. Taking time to smell the roses right now doesn’t do anything for anyone. Kings captain Dustin Brown, who is making his first-ever trip to the third round, said the built-in knowledge of players who have been on deep playoff runs is a benefit to these Kings…

BROWN: “I think those guys definitely help. I also think that a lot of these guys have been playing together a long time, and we kind of understand that this is the most successful we’ve been, but it’s not where we want to end up. Those guys definitely help to bring that to the forefront, and understanding that we haven’t done all that much, in terms of where we want to go and what we want to do.”

Williams’ 2006 Hurricanes weren’t exactly underdogs — they were the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference — but Williams was asked if he saw any parallels between these Kings and those Hurricanes…

WILLIAMS: “I think every championship team definitely has similarities. You have a goalie who is playing well at the right time. You have a healthy squad. And you have guys who raise their levels, come playoff time. I think we have all those factors, right now, that every championship team needs. In saying that, we’ve won two rounds. That’s it. There’s four teams left, and we’re happy about that — well, there’s five right now, but eventually there will be four teams left, and we want to be the last one standing.”

Then there’s the amazing Ray Whitney, who turned 40 yesterday. Whitney had a great regular season for Phoenix this year, with 24 goals and 53 assists in 82 games. He was even better in the 2006 playoffs with Carolina, as Williams’ teammate, when Whitney had nine goals and six assists in 24 playoff games. Williams was asked what he remembers of Whitney from that year…

WILLIAMS: “He wasn’t 40, putting up a lot of points like he is now. [grins] He was a big part of our team in ’06, and he’s certainly a huge part of their team right now. He’s going to demand a lot of our attention. We’re going to have to be hard on him, because he’s a guy who can certainly have an impact on the series.”

Darryl Sutter has been to the Finals as well, as Calgary’s coach in 2004. He was asked about the benefit of having players with championship experience, who can set an example for younger teammates as playoff games get even more intense…

SUTTER: “Hopefully they’ve sort of been doing that, because in each game there is more emphasis. Not each series but in each game, in terms of what experience brings. You look at the two teams, the guys with experience and a lot of playoff experience. That has impacted both teams, for sure. So, I don’t know about guys who have won, but guys who have been to conference finals and guys who have won rounds, but that definitely makes an impact. … It’s about composure. I’m not into all that sexy, philosophical, dreamy stuff, right? Because it’s all a bunch of (B.S.), quite honestly. If you play Game 1, and somebody slaps you in the face, then it doesn’t matter (whether), `Oh, did you win a Stanley Cup? Did you get to the conference finals?’ That’s what it’s about.”

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