In recent years, the L.A. Kings have been one of the best teams in hockey. So even though they lost seven of 11 to close the season, they still have a chance to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Why is this team always so dangerous?
“Well, the first thing that comes to mind to me is this: As I look back on my playing days, I wish I could have been around a group like these guys,” Kings analyst Jim Fox said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Their approach and their preparation and that mindset, their mental toughness that they have is very apparent. Whether you’re up or down, they just seem to find a way to play very well. Even last year when they didn’t make the playoffs – they missed out in the second-last game of the season – they were right there. But teams were talking, ‘You don’t want to play them.’ It’s the same type of thing (this year) – and it’s their style, too. They play an aggressive, rugged, gritty style, so regardless of whether you beat them or if they beat you, you’re in for a battle. When the playoffs come around, that’s why people consider the Kings always in the mix, always in the talk, because they do have a style that doesn’t really change that much. There’s few highs and lows and they just keep coming at you.”
The Kings (48-28-6) host the Sharks (46-30-6) in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series Thursday at 10:30 p.m. ET. Darryl Sutter is seeking his third Stanley Cup championship in the last five years.
“He sets the tone,” Fox said. “He’s the leader as the coach. He sets the tone. I’m not familiar with many coaches that, on game day, his attitude, personality – they completely change. He becomes a player again. He just focuses in and I think that rubs off on the players. So you can be prepped with the X’s and O’s and the power play and the penalty kill and where you’re supposed to be, but his ability to get them mentally ready to play and mentally ready to sacrifice their bodies – he feels that’s more important than anything else. It’s a well-prepared team, it’s a well-coached team – they do a phenomenal job. But it’s just that feel on the day of the game, and it even increases when you get to the playoffs.”