Kings used breaks to their advantage in playoff run
By Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Stanley Cup Playoffs are often deemed a grind -- eight weeks of intense, desperate hockey.
For the Los Angeles Kings, a combination of standout performance and quirky scheduling has made the journey to Game 2 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final a little less arduous than what is typically expected.
“It is just the way it goes. There’s not a lot we can do about it,” Kings forward Jeff Carter said. “I guess it gives us an extra day to rest up and heal up some bumps and bruises. It’s been great for me. Anytime you can get an extra day in between, it is going to help out a lot of guys. We’ve had a few breaks like this, and it has been big for us.”
Added captain Dustin Brown: “We’ve had this a lot actually back in the earlier series with the Clippers and the Lakers being in [the NBA playoffs]. We’ve had a lot of two days in between games, so we’re used to it. It is a little more difficult maybe sitting around when you’re not at home, but it is part of it.”
There were two days between Games 1 and 2, which was the seventh extra day off during a series the Kings have had since the postseason. For some perspective, the Boston Bruins had five such days last Spring en route to claiming the Stanley Cup.
The Bruins played 25 games during their run, and that included contests on back-to-back nights against Montreal in the first round. Los Angeles will play only its 17th game of this postseason Saturday night.
Add in the extra time off in between series because Los Angeles has won the first three rounds in five games or less, and the Kings have had plenty of time to recover from minor injuries and prepare for the next contest. Carter is one guy who was playing through an injury at the end of the regular season, but said Saturday morning that he feels better now than he did at the start of the postseason.
“Yeah, I feel great now,” Carter said. “I think obviously the playoffs are a grind. It is a long run, but if you have an extra day or two you can rest up and heal up that helps in the end.”
The Kings had an extra day off before Game 4 against Vancouver and a very rare two extra days before Game 5 because of back-to-back Coldplay concerts at Rogers Arena.
The options were either back-to-back games or the extra days. Los Angeles also had an extra day off before two straight games in the second round against St. Louis.
Because of the commitments required in the Cup Final, the Kings came to New Jersey earlier than normally would have before Game 1 of this series. Friday was the fourth day here for the Kings despite only playing once.
“We’re basically just hanging out in New Jersey right now,” forward Jordan Nolan said. “We’ve gone to [New York City] a little bit, and trying to stay relaxed while focusing on the task at hand. We had a nice meeting [Friday] night with some video, and now we have a big game [Saturday].”
While all of the down time can help in the rest and physical health departments, it also means more time to think about the next contest. The Kings haven’t let the extra time derail their momentum.
“It has just been staying focused,” Brown said. “We’ve tried to get away and do a couple of things as a team. It is pretty easy to come back here and get focused. It is the Stanley Cup Final. I don’t think guys need an extra attention or push. I think we’ll stick to our routine and get ready to go.”