Los Angeles Kings: 4 Reasons They Were so Good on the Road in the Playoffs
It's fun to reflect on a season, right? It's even more fun to reflect on said season when it resulted in the ultimate prize.
Looking back at the Kings' championship run, the thing that might be remembered the most is their unbelievable 10-1 record on the road.
What made them so good away from home ice?
It seemed that the biggest thing that helped the Kings on the road was the swagger they carried into every game.
They were confident. They knew they could win on the road, and that swagger only got stronger as they pressed forward and continued to beat opponents on their home ice.
The opposite effect happened to the opponents they faced as well. Teams knew how well the Kings were playing on the road, and they knew how the Kings were carrying themselves. That mental edge is all the Kings needed at times.
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The Kings made teams beat them. They weren't going to make mistakes; they were going to play simple, and they were going to make opponents beat them.
It was that theory and that reliance on the defense-first system of Darryl Sutter and former coach Terry Murray that gave the Kings the chances to win games away from home.
Again, the mental effect this had on opponents can't be stressed enough. In the playoffs, the pressure is so high, especially at home. The Kings' opponents were playing a team that hardly made any mistakes defensively. The Kings played very physically and they gave teams very little.
How could you not grip the stick a little when you get down 1-0 or 2-0? In fact, the Kings were 11-1 when they scored first.
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The Kings were a young team. Very young. There were a lot of guys on that team that had little-to-no playoff experience.
But, those players who did have experience, well, they had a lot of it.
The Kings had several former Cup winners and Cup finalists on the team. Their savvy paid dividends in keeping the young guys focused in situations where it might have been easy to have the pregame jitters.
Darryl Sutter and Focus
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A lot of people questioned Dean Lombardi bringing in Darryl Sutter. Does anyone question it now?
I think there is one thing that immediately goes hand in hand with coach Darryl Sutter, and that is focus.
He had the players focused throughout the playoffs. Day in and day out, it was complete and utter focus. The Kings approached every single game the same way. It was business as usual, and the business was winning.
Part of the playoffs is rhythm and momentum. Sutter had these players preparing the same exact way and taking the same exact mind set every night and every practice. When it started working, it was so easy for the players to buy in and not get derailed by something like jet lag, hotel rooms, opposing arenas or locker rooms.
The focus was never shaken.