- Katie Strang, ESPN.com
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Steamrolling through the Western Conference, the Kings' dominance has provided them ample rest and recovery time between each series. But with a lengthy eight-day layoff heading into their Stanley Cup finals match against the Devils, one wonders:
When does rest become rust?
"The layoff's nice with regards to rest, but I think most players are ready to play," captain Dustin Brown said. "This is the first opportunity for a lot of people to play for the Stanley Cup, so I think the excitement and adrenaline will be there, but it's important for us to really zone in on the X's and O's. That's where you might see the rust; I don't think you'll see it in the energy level."
Coach Darryl Sutter, notorious for his demanding, tough-love coaching style, said the team has used the break to its advantage, resting veterans and giving players time to recharge and refocus mentally.
"Obviously we've been able to manage our time well," Sutter said. "As series go along, there are players that definitely need days away and days off. It's not just the physical part of it. Guys are banged up. But the mental part of it. I think it's really helped our two or three older players, specifically Willie Mitchell and Rob Scuderi, the time."
Is the layoff preferable? Probably not. But the Kings have been presented with this challenge throughout the course of a remarkable postseason run in which they've lost just twice in 14 games. Clearly, it hasn't hurt them so far.
"We gotta get right back to that," said Jarret Stoll. "We've got to play the way we've been playing. Have that pressure game, have that mentality, right attitude. Come out and have that mindset right from the get-go, right from the puck drop and see what happens.
"We know our game, we know what we have to bring and we just have to put that out there."
• • •
Simon Gagne (concussion) has been cleared for contact, but Sutter declined to elaborate any further on his status.
"The answer is the same and I don't know how to answer it, right? You tell the truth or don't say nothing."