At several points throughout the season, Kings GM Dean Lombardi has been talking about how his team handles success and, more importantly, failure.
After being excused from the post-season by the San Jose Sharks – in a series the Kings easily could have won – what’s his gut telling him right now?
Lombardi – “I want guys ‘pissed off.’ I’ve said it before, you turn the corner when guys go home after a win (by the other team) and they’re pissed off. I sense that. I’ve seen it before, you can tell when they’re legitimately pissed off versus ‘Yeah, I would have liked to win’ or ‘Yeah, I’m ticked off, but it was pretty good.’ And they actually got there quicker than I thought.
“But, you know what – they really thought they could win this thing (the series with San Jose). And they kinda liked the fact that nobody gave them any chance, their best scorer is out, their other player is coming back from shoulder injury and they have no chance. Well, they took them to overtime in three games and essentially had ’em.
“That’s the thing they get most disappointed about – that this time, at critical moments, not only to know you had a chance, but you actually had ’em. I think the feeling was ‘once we get ’em in game seven’ it’s going to be our edge. From the few players I’ve talked with so far, it’s not only that, but then they’re going ‘it’s almost opportunity lost’ when nobody thought you had an opportunity. That’s the way it should be.”
He then went on to talk about losing those overtime games, especially after the team played so well in overtime during the regular season. However, he was quick to point out that ‘four on four is very different, knowing that the shootout is coming’ – something not available in the playoffs.
While he complimented Jarret Stoll on his near-perfection in shootouts he also said it’s something the team needed to look at when evaluating their 98 point regular season.
Finally, he recently had a respected hockey person tell him ‘defense wins games, but offense wins overtimes.’
It’s something he’s been giving heavy thought to.