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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter knows the numbers and the records. He doesn't want to give them much credence, but he can't deny they're more than just an anomaly at this point.
The Kings have lost 13 of their past 14 road games while winning 14 straight home games.
Over the past two months the Kings haven't found a way to win on the road, while always finding a way to win at home.
|Justin Williams acknowledged that home ice has been something the Kings have relied on when they've struggled on the road, and that they will need to make good use of it in Game 3.|
Sutter wants his teams to approach every game the same, home and away, so you'll have to excuse him if he brushes aside every result his team has had since April 1 and wants to start with a clean slate.
"We played really well in Chicago," Sutter said Monday. "We haven't played a game at home yet [in this series]."
Yes, the Kings played well in Chicago in Game 1, taking a 1-0 lead into the second period despite getting outshot 17-2, before eventually losing 2-1. Game 2 wasn't as great, with the Kings falling behind 4-0 and pulling goalie Jonathan Quick before eventually losing 4-2. Regardless of how they played, however, the Kings lost both road games, which has become par for the course lately.
"I've answered this several times, every game we lost 2-1, except for [Game 2]," Sutter said. "I don't think there's a huge gap in the performance or play at all. We've had trouble scoring not just this playoffs, but the last six games of the season. We saw it last year in the playoffs, too. It's not a home-road disparity at all. We're a good hockey club and we're not surprising anybody. There's no upsets now. We're trying to beat the team that finished first overall. If you look at the teams that we've played so far in the playoffs, they're great home-ice teams."
Chicago and San Jose, along with the Kings, had the top three home records in the league this season, and the Kings will need to protect home ice on Tuesday and Thursday to even the series and give themselves a chance to come back from a 2-0 series hole for the second time in these playoffs after doing it against the St. Louis Blues in the first round.
"We've been here before," Kings right wing Justin Williams said. "What? Three weeks ago? It's not do-or-die tomorrow, but it is. Home ice has been something we've been able to rely on and have in our back pocket when we've struggled on the road, and we have, so we're going to need to use it tomorrow."
The biggest reason the Kings were able to win that first-round series was they were able to steal Game 5 in St. Louis by scoring more than two goals, something they've done only once in their past 12 road games. Scoring on the road is the biggest obvious reason why the Kings were able to win a league-record 10 straight road playoff games last season, and have lost all but one this postseason.
The Kings have scored 11 goals in their first eight road games; last season they scored 26 in their first eight road games.
|The line of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Justin Williams, which was so instrumental in the Kings' Stanley Cup run last year, has struggled of late.|
"I don't know why that is," Williams said. "To tell you the truth I'm not sure why we went 10-1 last year on the road. I'm not sure. Obviously preparation is key and there are a lot of other factors that come into it, but we're certainly not out of it."
There are a variety of reasons the Kings' offense has struggled this postseason, but one of the biggest is the lack of production they're getting from center Anze Kopitar and particularly the line of Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Williams, which was so instrumental in the Kings' Stanley Cup run last season. Kopitar and Brown have combined for just five goals in 15 games while Williams has five on his own, including two in the Kings' Game 7 win over San Jose last week. Brown and Kopitar combined for 16 goals in 20 games last postseason.
"They have struggled offensively, for sure," Sutter said of Brown and Kopitar. "That's not me jumping out and making a statement. That's a fact. That is a statistical fact."
"I think it's fair to say as a line we're collectively in a slump," Brown said. "We looked over some video today. We know what we need to do better. It's getting into offensive zone where our spacing is pretty significant and it's hard to play, especially against a team like Chicago where they have a man on man with an extra man in there. We need to have closer support in all three zones."
As successful as the Kings have been at home, they understand nothing is a given, and they'll need to win Tuesday to have a realistic chance of winning this series and successfully defending the Stanley Cup.
"It's not a rite of passage that you're going to win at home," Williams said. "We need to earn it, especially against this team. Whether we get in there and grind out a 1-0 victory or win by more than one goal, at the end of the day it just needs to get done tomorrow. The confidence in that dressing room is high. We've been here before. We've been a successful team before. You look around that room, there's a lot of familiar faces and confidence in one another is key, especially in this crucial point."