The Kings’ first flight north to San Jose was on April 16. Game 7 against the Sharks took place exactly one month ago today, and as of tomorrow two weeks will have elapsed since the team traveled to Chicago for the first time.
As Darryl Sutter noted yesterday, it’s not only the physical grind that can wear on teams, it’s the mental challenges – and the Kings appear to have the experience necessary to combat any natural misdirection of focus that comes with an extended playoff run.
“It’s not just say, ‘Let’s have energy.’ If we did that in this room, and we said that – that’s not the way it works,” Sutter said yesterday. “The playoffs, the farther you go, it’s a mental battle. You look at the teams that are still playing, we’re seven weeks past teams that haven’t done nothing, that played their last games. That’s where your experience and your leadership and your being able to play through injury and being able to set that stuff aside to try and give a quality performance [comes into play].”
Speaking of “mental” challenges, forgive Dustin Brown for thinking of brains – those juicy, delicious brains.
“I think it’s kind of hard to explain. But at this point in the year you’re in a bit of a zombie mode, to put it best,” he said. “When it comes down to it, you’re really focused at the same time. It’s kind of an oxymoron, but it’s one of those things where it’s definitely a grind physically and emotionally and mentally. But when push comes to shove, guys are ready to play at this time of year.”
Dustin Brown, on the team’s preferred style of play:
Puck management, the key to our game is checking their top players, or checking all their players, and controlling the puck and making good decisions with the puck. When we do that, our style of play the – the grind, the cycling, all of that stuff – it allows us to do that. If we don’t manage the puck, turn the puck over, then it allows them to play the game they want to play.
Brown, on whether playing with Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik has affected his play:
It just allows me to do my thing really. With those two guys, Kopi especially with the puck possession, it just allows me to drive the net and get to the net. As a result, you score goals.