Darryl Sutter, Kings ready for battle in the ‘Cage’
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Darryl Sutter’s now infamous slip up from Thursday might have some truth to it. The Kings, down 3-1 in the first round Western Conference Playoff series against San Jose, are back in the Bay Area to face the Sharks in a crucial game at the Shark Tank, or the "Cage", as Sutter called it following the Kings’ 6-3 win Thursday.
To stave off elimination once again, the Kings will need their best octagon skills against a Sharks team that would love nothing more than to turn Los Angeles into a giant punching bag in front of their intense home crowd.
"The rink is built where the crowd is really top of you, so it makes the atmosphere pretty spectacular in a playoff match," said defenseman Drew Doughty. "I don’t know why he referred to it as that, but either way, it’s just another away game and a game we have to win."
The biggest key to Saturday night’s game will be possession.
The San Jose forecheck had been an increasingly difficult battle for the Kings to fight throughout the first three games. The Sharks dominated the puck possession and in some ways, beat the defensive-minded Kings at their own game.
"We can avoid turnovers and keep possession of pucks as much as possible," Doughty said. "That will obviously keep them off the forecheck and they’re going to get some. So when they dump that puck in, our D needs to be going back hard and forwards need to get back quick to be support for the D-men and just quick plays and get it going up on the rush."
We’re a desperate hockey team here
-- Kings defenseman Drew Doughty
Thursday, it looked like the Kings could do no wrong. It was almost as if the first three games had never happened. The sense of urgency was at an all-time high and Doughty said it may be even higher now as they prepared for game 5.
"We’re a desperate hockey team here," Doughty said. "We need to win four games in a row and you need to take it one game at a time. I think you’re going to see the best of every single player tonight.
"We want nothing more than to win this game tonight and that’s all we’ve been thinking about since the last game."
Other morning skate notes:
– No line changes are expected for the Kings. Morning line rushes remained the same from Game 4.
– While several of these late-series playoff games have come down to the wire, the Kings’ Thursday win was a scoring onslaught in favor of Los Angeles. But Sutter gave no indication as to whether or not he expects that to carry over to Saturday night’s game.
"I don’t know. Hopefully we score one more than them," Sutter said. "I think what we’re seeing in the playoffs, though is that scoring’s been up a little bit in the eight series, but if you look at it, save percentages are down, so I think everybody’s looking for the bigger save or fewer shots against."
– Sutter’s press conferences, though typically brief, have provided some entertainment in the form of his "Sutterisms" recently. Thursday night there was the "Cage" comment after he had picked up something from off the floor of the NBA visitors’ locker room – where hockey postgame press conferences are conducted – and talked about vacuuming.
Saturday morning, it was the March of Dimes. The Silicon Valley March of Dimes walk was held in downtown San Jose prior to both teams hitting the ice.
"It’s always nice to wake up to marching dimes," he said, following the conclusion of his morning skate remarks.