EL SEGUNDO -- Heading into the postseason, Kings right wing Jeff Carter had appeared in 47 playoff games in his six-year NHL career. Not until this week has he been forced to wait three days between games in the same series.
The Kings last played Wednesday night in Game 4, losing to the Vancouver Canucks, 3-1, at Staples Center. They lead the best-of-seven series three-games-to-one and can finish off the top-seeded Canucks with a victory Sunday in Game 5 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. The puck is scheduled to drop at 5 p.m.
“We only have to win one game so I think it would be nice to get right back at it,” Carter said after practice Friday.
This latest hiatus comes on the heels of a two-day wait between Games 3 and 4 in L.A. Typically, NHL playoff games are contested every other day.
Why the long breaks?
Blame the Lakers, Clippers and the band Coldplay.
The Lakers and Clippers had home games on Monday and Tuesday of this week, and Coldplay is playing at Rogers Arena on Saturday night, forcing Game 5 to be played Sunday.
“What can you do,” said Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi. “It’s building availability.”
That doesn’t mean Scuderi likes the setup.
“You’re in the rhythm of playing, you just want to stay in that rhythm,” he said. “I’d rather just get right back at it.”
About the only advantage is the extra-long break gives players like Carter an extra day to heal their bumps and bruises. Carter missed the final five games of the regular season because of a deep bone bruise in his ankle, an injury that wasn’t 100 percent healed when the series began.
“I guess that’s a positive out of it,” he said. “I lot of guys around here are banged up. In the playoffs you’re not going to find too many guys that aren’t banged up. I guess the extra day or two will definitely help for that.”
As for the Canucks, the extra days should also benefit their leading goal scorer, Daniel Sedin, who returned from a 12-game absence in Game 4 and was on the ice for all three of Vancouver's goals. Sedin had been sidelined by a concussion.
The long gaps between games are also unfamiliar to Kings coach Darryl Sutter. He wasn’t sure if it would benefit or hurt either team, but he’ll know after Sunday.
“Until the next game is played and over, then you’ll say if it did or didn’t,” he said.