May 20, 2014 3:28 pm

On contending with a wonky Conference Final schedule

Having arrived Saturday evening, Tuesday was the fourth day the Kings spent in Chicago. By this time last round, they had already returned to Los Angeles after conceding a pair of road games.

It is an understatement to say that there was a quick turnaround between Game 7 against the Ducks and Game 1 against the Blackhawks. The Kings officially advanced at 8:47 p.m. local time on Friday, which meant that only 39 hours and 33 minutes had elapsed between the two series, which doesn’t take into account travel, morning skates, or the preparation in the gap between the second and third rounds.

“It’s obviously how you handle it,” Mike Richards said. “You probably have some emotions and momentum and stuff going right into the next game, but for whatever reason that really wasn’t the case. It just seemed like we were waiting to see what they did instead of going out there and playing our game.”

Chicago beat Los Angeles 3-1 in an evenly played Game 1.

“I thought we did a good job of carrying the emotion over from the Anaheim series, and I think there were a few areas we’ve got to clean up and just go from there,” said Kyle Clifford, who skated on a line with Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams during line rushes at today’s practice.

“We had a lot of guys that had good chances,” Clifford said of his Game 1 performance. “We created some offensive time. They had good chances too, so it’s just a matter of who’s going to capitalize more on ‘em.”

Neither Richards nor Clifford were on the ice for any of the game’s four goals. Richards won 10-of-19 faceoffs in 18:07, issued one hit and attempted two shots, one of which was an attempted from the left circle in the first period that was denied by a fine Corey Crawford glove save. Clifford issued two hits in 12:04 of ice time and was denied on an odd-man rush by a Crawford save on a quality opportunity.

There was a wonky schedule in last year’s Western Conference Final as Games 1 and 2 were played on back-to-back days. The first three games of last year’s Western Conference Final were part of a three-games-in-four days stretch that involved a flight back from the Central to the Pacific Time Zones.

Though this year’s series began abruptly, the teams have a cool down period that could benefit the team that has already played 15 games this postseason. Following Sunday’s Game 1, Wednesday’s Game 2 is the only game played in a span of five days. Game 3 will not be held until Saturday night at Staples Center.

“I think any time you can get some rest through a series and throughout the playoffs is always a good thing,” Richards said. “It’s just how you handle it, and how you use the two days to get ready for the next game.”

Los Angeles was 9-4-2 in the regular season and is 0-2 in the playoffs with two full days between games.

“It’s always nice. You get a little break and just regroup,” Clifford said about the spacing early in this third round series. “We’re just getting ready for tomorrow.”

Mike Richards, on whether he looks forward to the playoffs:
For sure. That’s why everybody plays. The excitement around it – just walking into the buildings, you just feel the energy, and I think that just goes with obviously playoff hockey, but it’s just exciting to play, and everyone’s ready for it, and it’s the little battles inside the battles that you try to win. It’s just exciting. Obviously the prize at the end is something to shoot for, so there’s always a goal. But it’s something that it doesn’t matter a lot or if you’ve one it once or you haven’t won it at all, it’s always that thing that you’re shooting for. That’s why everyone plays the game. You don’t grow up just thinking about playing an NHL game. You grow up thinking about winning the Stanley Cup.

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