This might be a case of simplifying things too much, but it seems to me that there’s been a certain ebb and flow to the Kings’ season. They played well, briefly moved to the top of the Western Conference, then dipped before and after that eight-day December break. Then they rose again, to fourth in the West, and have now dipped again in this post-Olympic period.
Part of it is natural — teams are going to go through “up” and “down” periods over the course of six months — but the timing was curious to me. I wondered if Terry Murray thought that his young team might be showing a tendency to get complacent when it rises higher in the standings…
MURRAY: “I don’t look at it as complacency. I think it’s an understanding of how this league works today. There are 16 playoff teams and today, mathetically, what are there, two, maybe, that are out of it? So everybody is going to bring that kind of a game. When you play one of the greatest sports franchises in history, in all sports, Hockey Night in Canada, they’re [Montreal on Saturday] going to bring the attitude that they’re going to throw everything at you and try to get themselves into a better position in the standings in the Eastern Conference.
“That’s one example, one team, but that’s the same with every team that we have to prepare ourselves for. Playoff attitude begins March 1. It almost goes right back to the start of the year. It’s very intense, it’s very hard. It’s an understanding that you have to compete at the highest level and everything is important, everything matters. We come into the game understanding that it matters, but we just didn’t do it fast enough, quick enough and hard enough.”