Had any players on the Los Angeles Kings been interested in watching some late-season hockey that directly impacted their postseason fortune, the St. Louis Blues hosted the Anaheim Ducks on a game broadcast on Prime Ticket across the Southland Friday night.
The Blues, among the teams the Kings are trying to catch in a battle for a Wild Card berth, scored 12 seconds into the game against Anaheim, reclaimed a lead 25 seconds into the third period, and in a tied game late in the third, claimed a win on a Joel Edmundson wrister with 20 seconds remaining in regulation. With a 4-3 win, they moved three points and three regulation wins ahead of the Kings and dropped L.A.’s chances at making the postseason to 40.5%, according to SportsClubStats.com.
It was an entertaining and important late-season game. It was also a game that hockey players, on a night off some 66 games into the season, largely weren’t inclined to watch.
“We’re aware of it, but I mean, I guess I can only speak for myself, but I don’t scoreboard watch,” Alec Martinez said. In other words, don’t expect players to be forgoeing their afternoon nap on a game day so they can sit on the couch to watch Nashville play at San Jose, another game that carries important implications.
“I mean, I’ll check the standings every morning probably, but it’s not like I’m looking at the score of the games while they’re happening,” Dustin Brown said. “Kind of just wake up in the morning, see where you’re at and go from there.”
The players are reminded of where exactly they’re at when they arrive at the rink. Standings boards are updated every morning and placed around the team areas at both Staples Center and Toyota Sports Center, and it’s not uncommon when a period of particular urgency arises for the standings to be printed out, highlighted, and taped to the wall in the dressing room.
But players aren’t going to arrive home after a hard practice, plop down on the couch and feast on a diet of Eastern Conference games followed by Western Conference nightcaps. As training has intensified and the schedule has become invreasingly year-round, a mental recess on off-days is paramount in maintaining a healthy equilibrium over the course of 82 games. This, of course, doesn’t necessarily apply to watching the Olympics, or when the players’ alma maters may be playing important basketball or football games.
While some players don’t read the press clippings, there are others who stay on top of league comings and goings.
“I don’t know if it’s watching games, but I’d say the one guy who kind of always knows what’s going around the league is Carts,” Brown said. “But I don’t know if he sits at home watching games or he just reads all the TSN or wherever you get hockey info. I know a lot of guys have the TSN app. I don’t have any of that stuff, though.”
Coaches, while they’re not necessarily going to be scanning the out of town scores on Staples Center reader boards, are, obviously, more inclined to watch live games during their time at and away from the rink. And if there’s an eastern team playing Anaheim the night before they visit Los Angeles, there’s a good chance the staffs’ eyes will be affixed to a television.
“I obviously know the task at hand and there are certain teams that we have to catch, but I think sometimes if you watch the scoreboard too much it’s going to get the best of you, so I think you’ve just got to take it one game at a time and focus on what we’re doing in here because, quite honest, other than the teams when we play them, there’s nothing that we can do about those games,” Martinez said.
“All we can do is worry about ourselves and our own, so obviously we know the task at hand, but we’re up for it.”