Kings look to eliminate outside distractions
The Kings now have a second opportunity to win the Stanley Cup on home ice. The first chance came last Wednesday, and it ended in a Game 4 loss. Before that game, Kings players talked about how they would maintain focus and wouldn’t allow outside distractions to impact them. In hindsight, it doesn’t appear as though that was totally the case. Drew Doughty gave some interesting insight today when he talked about the challenges the Kings faced before Game 4, in terms of friends and family getting prematurely excited about the situation. Often, these folks — understandably excited — don’t understand what a distraction they can be to players. That said, it’s the players’ jobs, as professionals, to set that aside, and Doughty discussed how the Kings intend to change their preparation for Game 6.
DOUGHTY: “I don’t think (playing in) Jersey was as big of a distraction as it was for Game 4. With the Cup being in the building and everything being at home, I think a lot of guys were distracted by flying their family members in, their friends in, making sure everybody was taken care of. We’ve talked a lot about it in the room. We can’t be doing that. Family is always first in everyone’s minds, but right now, at this point of the year, it has to be hockey first. All we’ve got to think about is getting ourselves ready, individually, to play our best hockey. After that, things will come a lot easier.’’
Question: It’s just about turning off the phone, that sort of thing?
DOUGHTY: “Exactly. You just deal with ticketing, and things like that, days before things start. From that point on, it’s all about the next game. It’s Game 6, Game 6. That’s all we’re thinking about.’’
On the New Jersey side, coach Peter DeBoer has been a media master, publicly pontificating about how the pressure is all on the Kings. A smart man, and a good motivator, DeBoer even talked today about how his team drew motivation, before Game 4, from driving to Staples Center and seeing “10 limos parked on the road, ready for the after-party.’’ Now, if DeBoer and the Devils truly encountered, on their bus ride from the hotel at 2:30 p.m., 10 limos parked on the street for a (presumptive) late-night after-party, I’ll drive the Devils’ team bus for them tomorrow. More realistically, DeBoer is trying to shift media pressure onto the Kings by painting his team as the scrappy little underdog with nothing to lose. His players are believing it, which only increases the importance of Kings such as Doughty and Anze Kopitar putting aside distractions.
KOPITAR: “We all know how big this is. It would certainly be nice to finish it off at home and get it done. … It would be really nice, but it’s going to take a big effort from everybody to finish it off.’’
DOUGHTY: “We’ve got to put all that in the back of our minds. It’s not about that. It’s about playing as a team and winning as a team. Whether we win it in L.A. or we win it in New Jersey, it really doesn’t matter to us. We just want that thing so bad, and we’re going to do whatever it takes.’’