The Kings' Kyle Clifford, left, slams the St. Louis Blues' Ian… (Jeff Roberson / Associated…)
Although the Kings squandered a chance to earn the No. 4 seeding in the West and have home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, they weren’t allowing themselves to think of what might have been after they defeated the San Jose Sharks, 3-2, on Saturday to earn the fifth seed and a matchup against the St. Louis Blues.
The Kings have won eight straight games against the Blues, including a sweep of their second-round playoff series last spring.
“We know what we’re getting,” center Anze Kopitar said. “They have some big bodies and they play a heavy game. We have some big bodies and we’re pretty familiar. We’ve played them enough in the past seasons.
“We know what we’re getting and they know what they’re getting, so it’s a matter of getting ready and just go from there.”
The NHL isn’t expected to release the full playoff schedule until Sunday night, but the Kings were planning on playing in St. Louis on Tuesday and Thursday. They were scheduled to fly to St. Louis on Sunday morning and practice there on Monday.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick, who stopped 23 shots Saturday, said the Kings’ recent success against the Blues won’t have any effect on their upcoming playoff series.
“That’s not going to play at all into Game 1. We both start at 0-0,” he said. “And we’re going to have to outwork them. They’ve got some big forwards, strong forwards, they go hard to the net. Strong on the back end, a couple skilled guys that can really create stuff on the power play, and obviously they’ve got great goaltending.
“I think it’s just going to come down to we’ve got to outwork them to get some wins.”
Coach Darryl Sutter acknowledged that in a perfect world, he would have liked to have his lines and defense pairs set before the playoffs began but the NHL’s two-game suspension of winger Dustin Brown and an unspecified injury to defenseman Matt Greene made that impossible. He also said that Mike Richards was ill, not hurt, when asked why Richards didn’t play in the third period Saturday.
Having switched his lines and defense pairs to accommodate players’ absences could help later, he said.
“The depth part of it and being able to mix is maybe something that will help us, because that’s what we’ve been doing,” he said.
Like his players, Sutter said the Kings’ previous success against the Blues is irrelevant. And, he said, the Blues have improved since the Kings last saw them by adding defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold.
“The regular season is over and it really has no bearing on anything for me,” Sutter said.
He also said he wasn’t disappointed that the Kings were unable to hold onto a top-four spot and have home ice.
“No, because I’m quite honestly proud of the players,” he said. “We had a great season to be quite honest.”
The real season, it appears, will start on Tuesday.
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