Kings are down emotionally, as well as in series

June 09, 1993|By Lisa Dillman | Lisa Dillman,Los Angeles Times

MONTREAL -- The Los Angeles Kings aren't acting as muc like Stanley Cup finalists as they are like Stanley Cup victims.

"Woe is me!" should be the team theme. They are dwelling on the bad bounces, the perceived bad calls and the twists of hockey fate that have contributed to the Montreal Canadiens' 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven final series with Game 5 tonight at the Montreal Forum.

Any rage against Montreal goaltender Patrick Roy has been tempered by the pervasive, relentless emphasis on positive thinking in the Kings' dressing room. No one has shown any old-fashioned emotion at losing three consecutive overtime games.

Perhaps that is the difference between the teams. After a shoddy second-period effort in Game 4 in Los Angeles, Canadiens center Guy Carbonneau showed his disgust by breaking his stick, letting his teammates know he would not accept a sub-par effort during the third period.

And Montreal came out and held the Kings to a standoff, which, considering their overtime record, is almost as good as being ahead. Toronto might have been the best in the league at protecting a lead, but the Canadiens are peerless when it comes to playing for a tie.

For them, a tie at the end of regulation almost guarantees a victory. Montreal is 10-1 in playoff overtimes, unbeaten in overtime after losing to Quebec in Game 1 of the Adams Division semifinals. The Kings are 2-4 in overtime in the playoffs.

"I don't think we deserve to be where we are right now," said the Kings' Wayne Gretzky, who has three points in the last two games. "It's frustrating because we've played so hard. I've played on teams that haven't played as well or as hard and been up 3-1."

One of the few emotional Kings is goaltender Kelly Hrudey, who remains as angry and ready to battle as he was in Game 1 of the first round, when his goal was to prove the "goofs and the dummies" wrong.

It's no coincidence Hrudey has been playing some of his best hockey of the playoffs against the Canadiens. He became angry after Game 4 when someone asked whether he was proud of this Kings team.

"That makes it sound like we're writing our eulogy," he said. "We're still trying to win. I'm not proud of anything yet."

Hrudey was in his first season with the Kings when they pulled off an improbable comeback in 1989 after trailing the Edmonton Oilers, 3-1. They rallied and won the final three games of that first-round series. But that year, two of those final three games were in Los Angeles. Now, they need to win the final three with two of those at the Forum in Montreal.

One team has recovered from a more difficult spot in the Cup final, however. In 1942, Toronto rebounded from a 3-0 deficit and beat Detroit. No other team has matched that.

The Kings will be trying to recover from their 3-1 deficit possibly without the services of two veterans, defenseman Charlie Huddy and right wing Dave Taylor. Huddy has a torn ligament in his right knee and is not expected back, and Taylor has a strained right shoulder.

The Kings have been trying to do the right thing on the ice, but Roy has stopped them at every turn. And the young Montreal defense has thwarted the Kings, preventing them from getting at Roy. The Kings are trying to crash the net, but are not getting many rebounds.

"I might be upset if we were losing 5-2 every night," Hrudey said. "We're not. We're in every game. We're right there. It's just that something prohibits us right at the end."

Often that happens to be Roy. He is 15-4 in the playoffs and has lost only twice since Game 2 of the first round against Quebec.

"There's no better goalie than Patrick Roy right now," Montreal coach Jacques Demers said. "Last year, there were doubts, but right now he is the greatest goaltender in the game."

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