Kings have been there, done that in elimination games

The Kings celebrates their 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 of their series on Wednesday...

The Kings celebrates their 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 of their series on Wednesday night in Los Angeles. (USA TODAY SPORTS)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:15 PM ET

ANAHEIM - Ice water in their veins or horseshoes in their pants? It depends on one’s perspective.

The Los Angeles Kings have faced elimination five times this post-season, managing to keep their playoffs alive on each occasion. It’s a situation they seem to thrive in.

“I think it comes with the attitude of the players,” Kings winger Justin Williams said. “It’s just the chemistry and the makeup of the team that makes you believe. There’s nothing else around. You don’t shrivel when push comes to shove. You want to get your peacock feathers out and you want to prove you can do it and you want to have the puck on your stick while you do it.”

Game 7 on Friday against the Anaheim Ducks marks the sixth time the Kings are playing with their season on the line.

They lost their first three games of their first-round series against the San Jose Sharks before storming back to win the next four. The Kings then staved off elimination Wednesday with a 2-1 win to force the deciding game against the Ducks.

Having won the Stanley Cup in 2012, the Kings are still a championship-calibre team. And championship teams are hard to kill off.

“I don’t know if it changed after you won the Cup, I think you get to know (your players) through the playoffs,” Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said. “You get to know guys who thrive in situations or want the challenge. It’s a tough hill to climb. Every game becomes tougher as the playoffs go along. That’s what happens, it sorts out your leadership group, it sorts out where your young players are at.

“We continue to do that. That’s what sort of out of place a bit. We put a lot of young guys (in). Everyone says, ‘Well, you won the Cup three years ago,’ We did but you’re putting a lot of young guys in or playing them differently where you see if they can handle it or can’t handle it. That’s where you see ups and downs in their game.”

So far, the Kings have risen to the challenge. Having been able to force the series to seven games, they believe, they have put the pressure back on Anaheim, who are the higher seed in the series.

The Ducks finished first in the Western Conference during the regular season, 16 points better than the Kings.

“I think both rivals, especially the one team that had 116 points (Ducks), would probably prefer not to play a Game 7,” Sutter said. “But the other team (Kings) was prepared to play a Game 7, because we knew they were a tough team to beat and if we could get it to seven that meant we’ve done good things.”

The Kings are going into the game with an underdog mindset, not expected to climb out of a 3-0 series hole against the Sharks and finishing below Anaheim in the regular-season standings.

“I’d say we are, 16 points is a lot over the course of a season with how tight the league is now and how close the games are,” Kings centre Jarret Stoll said. “They’ve had a great regular season last season and this year. They lost a tough Game 7 to Detroit last season at home. We hope to give them that same fate this season.

“That’s obviously the goal. They’re a great team, they have a lot of great things going on over there. I’d say the pressure is on them. A lot of pressure is on their goaltender. A lot of pressure is on their entire team to win on home ice.”

The Ducks are going into the game with rookie goaltender John Gibson, who took over in Game 4 of the series.

They’re also playing at home, which hasn’t been much of a factor in this series.

“Home ice hasn’t had a dramatic effect on the home team at all in terms of we think we’ve played just as well in Anaheim as we have in L.A.,” Sutter said. “I’ve said this a lot in the last few years, with all the new buildings, there’s not a lot of big change in glass or boards or ice. Back in the old days where there was different size surfaces, different type of boards, all those things, the benches. Now it is so generic that other than the crowds, it doesn’t matter where you play.”

 

EVERY GAME 7 IS DIFFERENT

LOS ANGELES — There is plenty of Game 7 experience on both sides of the puck.

For many on the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, it’s not their first rodeo.

Going into Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinal, both teams will be counting on their past experiences to get them through this one.

“I say every playoff series and every playoff game has its own subtitles, its own entity,” Kings winger Justin Williams said. “I’ve been behind in a Game 7, I’ve been ahead in a Game 7. I’ve been behind going into the third period of a Game 7. I hope we get the first goal in Game 7 (Friday) but if not, no big deal, we’ll write a different story.”

The Kings have already played a Game 7 this post-season, completing an epic comeback against the San Jose Sharks in their first-round series.

“It’s a different series, different teams, different buildings, all that kind of stuff,” centre Jarret Stoll said. “You have to focus on your start, worry about getting a good start, try to establish your full team game as quickly as possible.

“Home ice isn’t a factor in this series. I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of fans there. We’ll get excited and ready to go. Just play our game that’s gotten us a lot of wins on the road over the course of the regular season and the playoffs.”

Meeting for the first time in the playoffs, the series was expected to go the distance. Whoever seizes the moment, will come out of it.

“These games are fun,” Stoll said. “There’s always a little bit of nerves, but I think for every game there should be a little bit of excitement. Game 7s are fun. They’re fun for everybody, players, coaches, fans, the media, it’s what it’s all about.” 


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