Kings winger Dustin Brown battles Blues winger Alexander Steen, left,… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
One player captured the imagination of Kings Coach Darryl Sutter when he was talking about the challenge of a rare afternoon playoff game.
He referenced the Flyers’ Claude Giroux and his huge hit against Sidney Crosby in the first shift in Game 6 of the first-round series between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, setting the fierce tone in the clincher.
Goodbye morning, hello afternoon.
"We need some of our stars to be morning persons," Sutter said.
The Kings are one game from advancing past the second round of the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history. They did it in 1993 on their way to the Stanley Cup finals.
Standing in the way are St. Louis, the alarm clock and the afternoon blues.
The Kings, who lead the Western Conference best-of-seven semifinal series, 3-0, stayed in a hotel in Los Angeles the night before Game 3 and are doing the same thing before Game 4.
Sutter joked about the difference in preparing for an afternoon game.
"I just fold my pajamas," he said.
He hasn’t forgotten one of the more lackluster efforts turned in by his players during the regular season. It happened early in his tenure as Kings coach on the afternoon of Jan. 7, a 1-0 loss to the Blue Jackets at Staples Center.
"It was a pajama party," he said.
Forget coffee, it might be time for a shot or two of Red Bull before Game 4. Not all players are created equal, or reporters, when it comes to getting going in the morning, as Sutter pointed out.
"I will tell you this. How many people are standing here … three, six, eight, 10, say 20 of us," Sutter said, counting and looking at the group assembled around him after Saturday’s practice. "How many of you guys are morning people and some of you, not? That’s a fact."
Admittedly, not all of his players are morning folk. Or afternoon people.
"That’s a fact, right?” he said. "You can’t change that. I don't think I can change that."
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