Kings on facing Rangers: ‘We approach this like every other game’
A big win on Wednesday night just down I5 in Anaheim has the New York Rangers’ emotions running a little higher than usual as the Kings and the Rangers are set to face off for the first time since the Stanley Cup Final, but the same can’t be said for the team that won it all back in June.
In typical Los Angeles Kings fashion, the excitement level for the defending Stanley Cup champs isn’t any different from any other game. It’s the same two points on the line as always, the Rangers are simply another opponent.
"I think that’s more of a story for the media," said defenseman Alec Martinez. "We approach this like every other game. They’re a tough opponent but as far as I’m concerned, we’re focusing on winning tonight."
The last time the two teams played, it ended in Jazz Hands. Martinez became an overnight sensation. The Kings became something close to a dynasty. But those are fun stories to bring out at the right time, but not now. Not when the Kings are struggling to play to the level that they know they are capable of.
"I think each year, guys reset their minds," said captain Dustin Brown. "I don’t think anything carries over."
Brown can’t remember feeling any different about seeing the New Jersey Devils for the first time after beating them to win the 2012 Stanley Cup. And this sentiment is about what you would expect from a team that found success by approaching all 27 playoff games with the exact same mindset.
The focus is less on the Stanley Cup memories of the past and more on their struggles of the present. The Kings are playing exceptionally inconsistent hockey and after four days off, they’re anxious to get back on the ice and fix the problems that have been ailing them. New York poses challenges with their speed and scoring ability and the Kings know all about Henrik Lundqvist.
The last time Lundqvist was in Los Angeles, he was arguably the best player on the ice yet he hoisted no hardware. He held the Ducks to only a single goal last night and the Rangers, 9-1-0 in their last 10 games, are riding high after beating the best team in the league in such convincing fashion.
"It’s huge," said forward Rick Nash after Wednesday’s game. "We talked about it for the last couple days. We had three days off and we’ve been challenging ourselves and giving ourselves a measuring stick of where we’re at. It’s a huge win for us."
Defenseman Robyn Regehr is day-to-day but hasn’t been cleared to take any contact in practice.
"He’s still really sore and able to do very little," said coach Darryl Sutter. "He hasn’t taken a shot, so we’re still a ways away. I couldn’t even tell you if it’s days or a week. Just play it."