I said last night that the Kings suffered the most devastating loss in their history in game 3 against the Sharks. Now, there’s hope in that statement. Why, you ask? First, it wasn’t the most devastating collapse in NHL history. In retrospect, it wasn’t even the most devastating collapse I’ve witnessed in my hockey history. That would be Edmonton in game 1 of the 2006 Finals. Up 3-0, the Oilers proceeded to give up goal after goal to the Hurricanes, witnessed their own defenseman check a Hurricane player into their goaltender injuring him, and saw their backup goaltender hand the puck to Rod Brind’Amour for the game-winner with about a minute left in the game.
The other reason there is hope in that statement is because “to collapse” is to say that you have first achieved something. The Kings showed they belong in this series before letting the wheels fall off. I suppose this is simply the positive spin on what I said in my last post, but that’s precisely the point. The Kings need to spin this positively in their heads. More on that later.
First, what must the Sharks be thinking? If I’m a Shark I’m thinking (although probably not saying), “We’ve rattled them. Now the Kings have it in their head that, no matter the lead, we can come back from it.” That’s a dangerous mental dagger there. It’s an incredible spirit killer to have it in the back of your mind that, however hard you work, they can turn on the jets and pass you by. The Sharks mental task is to avoid playing with that attitude, and I have no doubt they’ll come out strong on Thursday.
For the Kings, the mental task is far more difficult. The Kings need to do two things simultaneously. First, they have to take what happened in Game 3 as a lesson and divorce it from the emotional aspect. It sucks to lose, especially after such a lead, but it’s a lesson to be learned. Second they have to remember; it’s just one game***. Believe me, I know it’s a huge turn of events in terms of momentum, but it’s still just a single game. They’re in no worse shape than the Rangers, the Bruins, the Lightning, or the Ducks. You can definitely come back from down 2 games to 1.
The Kings will also need to avoid the urge to get revenge anywhere but the scoresheet. The final score is what matters, not getting in Clowe’s face, or trying to lay a hit on Couture. It’s difficult to not throw that mitt in someone’s grill after the stomp they put on your pride, but it’s an urge the Kings will have to resist.
Remember The Tortoise and the Hare? The hare would spring out to a lead, then the slow and steady tortoise would pull ahead, only to have the hare speed past again. The Kings need to channel the tortoise. The Sharks can and will charge back to take the lead, in games and in the series. It’s fine, as long as you get to the finish first.
(***As hockey fans, aren’t you happy the playoffs don’t work like some soccer tournaments where you win based on aggregate goals? I would find that frustrating as all hell.)
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney