May 29, 2012, 7:32 PM EDT
One of the natural stories from the 2012 Stanley Cup finals will be the “uncharted territory” for the Los Angeles Kings franchise and young stars such as Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick. That doesn’t mean the team lacks players with Cup finals experience, however, so Rich Hammond caught up with guys like Rob Scuderi to find out their tips on how to handle what can be an overwhelming feeling once things kick off.
“I think it’s all about striking a balance,” Scuderi said. “You’re excited to play. It’s been a while for us. It’s the Stanley Cup Finals. But you also realize that it’s a real hockey game to be played, and we can’t just run out like a bunch of chickens with our heads cut off. We’ve got to realize what got us here, and try to strike that balance between being excited, and your responsibility as a player to this team.”
“It is a bit of a spectacle, but I don’t think it’s very hard to get zeroed in on what you want to do and how you want to play.”
Someone, somewhere is already planning some sort of “Headless chicken” T-shirt campaign for the Kings and their fans. (I can think of at least two bloggers who might enjoy running with such an idea, but we’ll see.)
“Playing our game” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as “not running around like headless chickens,” but that was the general mantra from most Kings players when asked the “How do you deal with the heightened pressure?” type questions. More experienced players did emphasize that the Kings should enjoy the experience as well, though.
Doughty seems to welcome the pressure, for one.
“Me personally, I want to know it’s a Stanley Cup final game,” Doughty said. “It’s the biggest thing in my life. We can’t look at it as if we have a lot of pressure on us to win or anything like that. We’ve just got to go out there and have fun, and do everything we can to win.”
If they feel like throwing out a few more great quotes along the way, no one would complain.
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