Don't question this team's heart.
Right after getting Jarret Stoll back in the lineup, the Kings were forced to deal with the loss of second line center Mike Richards just before Game 2. Though he'd taken a hard hit by Bolland on the chin the day before, concussion symptoms didn't appear until warmups.
Now the Kings are preparing to play their third game in four days -- another present from the schedule which has given them little rest since the crazy 17-game slog of March.
They're not giving up.
Darryl Sutter has referred to "banged up" players affecting his lineup decisions multiple times this postseason -- and that's not a coincidence. It's clear there are injuries beyond the ones we've officially learned about.
"I’m not sure quite that same one where it’s symptom-related," Sutter recalled when asked whether he had been in a similar situation in warm-ups, "but certainly guys are getting froze up, or they can’t get it froze up or that sort of thing where you’ve got to make a decision. Guys telling you if they can play or not, and you’ve got to have the back-up plan and be ready for it. It’s the first thing you do." [...]
It’s not as if players’ attempting to play through pain is a new, unforeseen wrinkle to the 2013 postseason.
"Well, we’re certainly used to it," Sutter said. "We’ve made a lot of decisions literally game-to-game – or as last night, made it between warm-up and game – so it’s something we’re used to. We’ve handled it really well. Obviously it becomes a factor the farther you go, just because of the quality of play. We’ve handled it really well as a group." --LA Kings Insider
Beyond Richards, we've long suspected the top line is dealing with injuries as well. Traditionally the greatest source of strength among LA's forwards, they have struggled in a completely uncharacteristic way through two rounds and change.
Jon Rosen of the LA Kings Insider is just the latest to point out that Kopitar appears to be playing injured. Kopitar -- who had to play in a knee brace thanks to the injury he had in Sweden -- ordinarily thrives against tough matchups, helping the team to prosper no matter who he faces on the road. During this year's playoffs, his underlying numbers stand out in a bad way. In other words, this doesn't seem to be a scoring slump like other scoring slumps.
Dustin Brown never shies away from taking the body, and that means he's also a target of many hits. Justin Williams, who can often carry a line all on his own, was banged up in Game 2 against the Sharks even before he was trucked later by Stuart.
Last year the Kings were fortunate and good. This detracts nothing from their championship--that's what it takes to go all the way.
Last year some complained they hadn't faced enough adversity. Consider this the payback. It's like a climb up a sheer cliff without any handholds.
And so far, they've survived. They went through a bruising battles with two other teams who were true contenders in their own right, and got through. Round 1 against the Blues was the most intense, physical series I've had the pleasure of watching in a good long while; Round 2 was an all out war. In short, it's remarkable to me that they've been able to make it to the WCF without the top line looking like itself. I see it as a testament to their heart as well as the skill of Jonathan Quick.
Is that depressing to think about? Not to me. I think it's courageous.
A common refrain is that if a team doesn't win, it's because they "don't want it enough." I look at what the Kings have done so far and see nothing but commitment.
It's not easy, but they're not throwing in the towel. I can't tell you how much I admire that.
So fight on, and cheer hard. Let's gear up for two games at home. One thing I feel absolutely certain of: this roster will do the best they can to dish out some adversity to the Hawks.
Who's with me?