As of Saturday morning the Kings were flying high, having picked up points in 11 straight games.
Later than night they were playing the Islanders – one of the worst teams in the league. Granted, it was being played in Long Island, not the comfy confines of Staples Center. Yet still, they should have been able to pick up another two points and come home with a 6-0-3 record through nine games of a season-high ten game road stretch.
Well, things don’t always work out as planned.
And Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell still hadn’t turned the page after practice on Monday…
“The trip was bittersweet with the (way it ended) in Long Island. We found ways during the trip to manufacture points when we didn’t play our best hockey in some games too and that’s what good teams do. But, the game in Long Island is a little disappointing. I thought from the top all the way through there wasn’t the same focus that we had in other games. I don’t know why that was.”
MM: Sports cliches will say that when a team is playing well at home it’s because of the local crowd and when they’re winning on the road it’s the players bonding. Was that part of the reason for the success on this trip?
WM: “I think it was more about desperation. If we didn’t put together a road trip like we did, our chances of being in the postseason were virtually gone. We needed to do what we did. That’s why it’s still disappointing that we played that well during that whole road trip – well still ongoing technically, with Anaheim coming up – and then we lost that game with the Islanders. It was more desperation. If we want to have a chance at winning our division, which is still within our grasp, or having a a shot at getting into the postseason, we needed to do what we did. So, that’s encouraging. We look to continue that at home. A lot of times when you get settled into home the first game is almost a bit of a trap game. Everyone knows we had a good road trip, you get home and think it’s going to be easier – just because you tend to have a better record at home because of the fans and stuff. So, it will be up to our leaders and our coaching staff especially to make sure the group is ready.”
For comments from coach Terry Murray after practice today click here – he explains the decision to send Andrei Loktionov back to Manchester.