LA Kings: Dealing With Frustration On Two Levels All Season

EL SEGUNDO AND LOS ANGELES, CA — With nine games left and being eight points out of a wild card playoff berth, the Los Angeles Kings’ playoff chances are virtually non-existent. But they’re not eliminated and to their credit, they continue to claw, scratch and fight.

“We’re still alive,” said left wing Tanner Pearson. “We’ll take it game-by-game and focus on two points at a time.”

“We’ve got to win every game,” said defenseman Jake Muzzin. “We’ve got to play with emotion and desperation. [Against Winnipeg on March 23], coming out in the third period, I felt like we were attacking. We’ve got to start games like that and play that way for the full 60 minutes.”

Although the Kings were facing a badly depleted, injury ravaged Winnipeg team, their five-goal outburst—a rare sight this season—including three goals in the third period, gave them a fresh outlook on what could be.

“Part of it is confidence,” said center Anze Kopitar. “After a game like this, where we did a lot of good things, you bottle that. You remind yourself that you’ve still got it, and you go out there [tonight, against the New York Rangers], and do the same.”

Taking a longer view, the Kings have struggled to score goals all season, and that was the case for them again against Winnipeg before their third period explosion. To be sure, putting three pucks into the net that period, let alone five in the game, has been almost unheard of for them this season.

Given their tremendous struggles to score goals, the Kings have had to deal with the resulting frustration, something that’s not easy to do, given that there are two different levels.

“On an individual and a collective basis, there’s two types of frustration, and we’ve had spurts where we had both,” said veteran winger Dustin Brown. “It’s really frustrating when you’re not getting chances to score goals. It’s another thing when you’re snake-bitten.”

“For the second one, you’ve just got to stick with it, because if you’re doing the right things and you’re getting chances, the puck is going to find the back of the net, eventually,” added Brown. “It’s the other times when we’re not forechecking well, we’re not playing the right way, so we’re not getting any good looks. That’s when, both personally and collectively, it’s more frustrating, when we’re not playing well or doing the right things to score.”

Brown emphasized that the team has to keep their heads up and remain positive, despite their dire straits.

“It’s important for guys in the room and guys on the bench to help each other,” he said. “Think positively and just try to stick with the program. Sometimes, it’s hard, but collectively, you’ve got to have a good mindset. If you’re doing the right things and working the right way, good things will happen.”

LEAD PHOTO: Los Angeles Kings left wing Tanner Pearson, shown here at a recent practice. Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography.

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