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Los Angeles Kings Looking To Make History With Sweep Of Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks are hoping that forward Daniel Sedin (foreground left) will be able to return to action in Game 4 of their first round playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings, after missing twelve games due to a concussion.
Photo: David Sheehan

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Over their 44-year history, the Los Angeles Kings have been swept in a playoff series nine times, but they have never accomplished that feat.

Moreover, the Kings never had a 3-0 lead in a series until their current Western Conference Quarterfinal playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks, so it can also be said that the Kings have never come close to sweeping a playoff series.

But with a win tonight in Game 4 at Staples Center in Los Angeles (7:00 PM PDT, televised exclusively in the United States on the NBC Sports Network), the Kings can do just that.

But the Canucks have a trick up their sleeves, as forward Daniel Sedin, who has missed twelve games due to a concussion, practiced with the team on April 17, even though he avoided contact.

Sedin’s status will be determined at game time, so the Kings spent time on Thursday preparing for a Canucks team under the assumption that Daniel will return, reuniting with brother Henrik.

Together, the Sedin twins are among the National Hockey League’s most dangerous forward pairs, and would give the Kings a lot more to handle.

“Isn’t the Art Ross [Trophy] for scoring? Wouldn’t it make a significant change if we could put a player like that in our lineup? So it’ll be significant [for their team], too,” said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter.” It’s not easy. I don’t know if you counter [the Sedin twins], but you certainly make yourself aware of [them]. If players are aware of how much better they are together than apart… .”

Psst! Hey Darryl! The players are aware.

“They’re special, individually,” said right wing and team captain Dustin Brown. “[But when] you put them together, they can do some things out there that are pretty impressive, and it’s important for us to understand the dynamics of when they’re playing together.”

“We played [against] him a handful of times, so we have a pretty good feel about what to expect,” said goaltender Jonathan Quick. “He is a talented, thirty-goal scorer, so you have to respect what he’s capable of, but, at the same time, you can’t give him time and space.”

“It doesn’t matter if [an opponent] is a ten-goal scorer, or a thirty-goal scorer,” added Quick. “If you give them time and space, they’re going to create something.”

Despite the possible return of Daniel Sedin, the Kings have no plans to alter their game plan.

“They’ve got a lot of talented offensive players in that lineup,” Quick noted. “We’re going to handle him just like we do everyone else. We’re going to prepare, we’re going to do video, see what he likes to do.”

“Our game plan stays the same,” Brown stressed. “We’ve got to be hard on both of them, if they’re in the lineup, and we’ve got to limit their time and space with the puck.”

“In Game 2, Henrik had a couple of shifts where he controlled the play,” Brown added. “When you let a guy do that, and then you throw his brother into the mix—Henrik was, kind of, patrolling around, and couldn’t find anybody. Now, if we give him that much time, he’s going to find Daniel. That’s where we have to be really aware, and really hard, limiting their time with the puck.”

Brown indicated that even though Daniel Sedin is coming back from a concussion, as one of the Canucks’ top players, he will not get the kid gloves treatment.

“He’s coming back from a head injury, but the main reason to be physical is that he’s one of their best players,” Brown noted. “That’s no different from why we’ve been hard on [forwards Ryan] Kesler and [Alexander] Burrows.”

“It’s the playoffs, and you’ve got to be hard on their best players,” Brown added. “If [Daniel] is in the lineup, he becomes one of their top three forwards.”

With their backs against the wall, and given their recent tendencies, the Canucks could be looking to stop Brown by going out of their way to hit him on every shift.

In recent seasons, the Canucks have earned a reputation for being undisciplined in that regard, especially in the post-season. If they resort to such tactics, they will play right into the Kings’ hands.

“If that is the case, that probably plays to our advantage, if they’re worried about me,” said Brown. “If they’re worried about me, they’re not necessarily worried about winning. But they’re a team that understands the position they’re in. Whether they hit me or not, they need to find a way to win, more than anything.”

“They’re a veteran team, and they’ve been through a lot,” added Brown. “I think they understand that if they’re running after me, it’s probably not going to help them.”

After a poor first and second periods in Game 3, the Kings will have to raise their level of play against a rabid, desperate Canucks team, that could be buoyed by the return of their top scorer.

“I think you just have to understand the situation that you’re in, and the level of desperation that they’re going to have,” said center Mike Richards. “You have to bring that same intensity, and enthusiasm. You have to understand that they’re going to come with heart.”

“Our start is really important,” said Brown. “They’re going to be a desperate team. They haven’t been in this situation, but they’ve been in playoff games. If you give a team like that any kind of life, they can turn it around pretty quick, so it’s important for us to understand that.”

“We didn’t play the type of game we wanted to play in Game 3, but we found a way,” added Brown. “We’ve got to stick with [our game plan], regardless if it’s a 0-0 game, if we’re down, if we’re up. We’ve got to understand the situation, and continue to go after the game.”

For the Kings, a common refrain about the playoffs heard in their dressing room came up once again.

“It’s all about [tonight],” said Quick. “It doesn’t matter if we lost, 10-0 [in Game 3], or if we won, 10-0. It doesn’t mean anything going into [tonight’s] game. You’ve got to this the reset button, and focus on tonight’s game.”

“The last game doesn’t matter,” added Quick. “The last game means nothing. It’s all about playing in the moment, taking one game at a time.”

Indeed, when asked about getting some much needed rest after a Game 4 victory, Richards quickly brushed that aside.

“It’s nice to get rest when you have the opportunity,” he said. “In the playoffs, anytime you can get some rest is going to benefit you. But we can’t be focused further down the road. We have to focus on [tonight], how we’re going to play against a desperate hockey team, and what an opportunity it is for us to take a step forward.”

“We still feel that we can be better, and play better,” he added. “We have to have that mindset going into [tonight’s] game.”

To be sure, the Kings do not want to give the Canucks any life by losing Game 4.

“Coming into Game 4, it’s important for us to be the aggressor,” Brown emphasized. “We have the ability to play under high pressure situations, because we’ve had to do it for three years, in the regular season, and the post-season. We’ve also had a lot of learning experiences in bending and completely snapping. It’s one of those things you learn, as a team, and as a group. Sometimes it comes into play.”

“I know the series is 3-0 [in favor of the Kings],” said Sutter. “But it could just as easy be the other way, so I don’t have any trouble understanding the importance of trying to win Game 4.”

Many have been celebrating the fact that the Kings have a 3-0 lead in the series. But the reality of the situation is that it means nothing until a team wins its fourth game, and the Kings seem to know that quite well.

“Our confidence is high,” said Brown. “But, at the end of the day, we really haven’t done anything yet.”

Richardson Expected To Return In Game 4

Forward Brad Richardson, who underwent an emergency appendectomy on April 9, is expected to be in the lineup tonight, skating on a line with Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan.

“I [started feeling normal] the last three or four days, when I started doing some workouts again, and getting on the ice,” said Richardson. “The first three or four days, you feel like crap because of the anesthesia, and you’re really sore. But as soon as you get over that hump in three or four days, you feel really good.”

“Today, I felt the best,” added Richardson. “Hopefully, I feel even better tomorrow. I’m looking forward to the game.”

When asked about Richardson’s status, Sutter was rather non-committal.

“We’ll see tomorrow, but he’s been cleared for full activity,” he said.

Raw Audio Interviews from Los Angeles Kings Practice, April 17, 2012

(Extraneous material and dead air have been removed)

Dustin Brown (9:14)


Jonathan Quick (2:52)


Mike Richards (1:08)


Brad Richardson (0:34)


Darryl Sutter (9:26; edited for language)


Related Videos

2012 Western Conference Quarterfinal, Vancouver Canucks vs. Los Angeles Kings, Game 3 Highlights, April 15, 2012

Used with permission. All videos provided by KingsVision at LAKings.com, or NHL.com require Adobe Flash Player. As such, they are not viewable on iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch).

 


Tickets for the Kings’ upcoming home playoff games against the Vancouver Canucks, April 15, 2012, 7:30 PM – Canucks vs. Kings: Game 3; April 18, 2012, 7:00 PM – Canucks vs. Kings: Game 4; April 24, 2012, TBA – Canucks vs. Kings: Game 6 {if necessary}), are available from Barry’s Tickets, an official partner of the Los Angeles Kings. Use the code, “Royalty010” to get a 10 percent discount on their “Best Value” tickets.


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