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updated: 5/18/2014 8:23 PM

Kings offer no tired excuses after setback

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  • Los Angeles Kings star Anze Kopitar reacts as he leaves the ice after his team's 3-1 loss in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals at the United Center on Sunday.

      Los Angeles Kings star Anze Kopitar reacts as he leaves the ice after his team's 3-1 loss in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals at the United Center on Sunday.
    Associated Press

 
 

Tired?

Who you calling tired?

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You want to drop the gloves right here and we'll show you how tired we are?

Well, the Los Angeles Kings didn't exactly put it that way Sunday afternoon.

Fatigue was a convenient excuse the Kings rejected after the Blackhawks' 3-1 victory in the United Center.

"No," L.A. center Anze Kopitar said quickly when asked whether he and his teammates played tired.

The question was sure to come up considering the Hawks hadn't played since Tuesday night and the Kings played Friday night.

Not only that but the Kings also had to win two Game 7 road games to advance to this NHL Western Conference final series against the Hawks.

"We had enough time to regroup and get some rest," Kopitar insisted.

That comment pretty much was expected. Nobody on the Kings was going to say that he wasn't man enough to play with less than 48 hours between playoff games.

Some baseball players have to be taken out of the lineup for a day game after a night game. Some basketball players have to play reduced minutes as the games come fast and furious.

Hockey players play on adrenaline if they have to, but they play one way or another. If they can play with broken, torn and twisted body parts, they certainly can play at a reasonable pace with less sleep than new parents get.

Kopitar didn't let even a weary wink slip out when dismissing the issue. He was serious that fatigue wasn't a factor.

Kings head coach Darryl Sutter also was when he said, "The only time I really noticed it was early in the game. Other than that I didn't think so."

Maybe the Hawks believed the Kings were just a wee bit tired, though they certainly weren't going to say it out loud.

That would be like patronizing the Kings for the defeat. It also would be like diminishing the quality of their own victory in the series opener.

The Hawks who came to the podium for the formal postgame news conference -- head coach Joel Quenneville, captain Jonathan Toews and goalie Corey Crawford -- barely were asked what they thought of the Kings' energy level.

What were they going to say, anyway, that the Kings wore down like a bunch of wimps and let us coast to the final horn?

Better to let sleeping dogs lie when they might not have had enough sleep to muster a bite.

"That's a good hockey team over there," Quenneville said. "They get energy from four lines."

Down deep the Hawks must be expecting the Kings to put in a more consistently strong 60 minutes in Game 2 on Wednesday night at the United Center. The Kings will have two days to catch their breath. Then Game 3 is Saturday in Los Angeles, so the matter of fatigue should be put to sleep by then.

The irony of all this is that some observers have wondered about whether the Hawks will have the energy to get through these playoffs.

After all, they played deep into June while winning the Stanley Cup last year and then sent 10 players to the Olympics this year.

Anyway, back to the Kings. During postgame media conferences, Quenneville came in followed by Sutter. For some reason, the Kings' coach curiously asked about the order of appearance.

"Were we second or first?" he said.

Second, he was told.

"We were in the score, too," Sutter said with a smile.

It wasn't a tired smile, just a smile.

Regardless, fatigued or not, the Kings will have three nights to sleep on it before Game 2 of the series on Wednesday.

By that time the question of whether the Kings are tired won't have to be asked.

The Hawks are hoping it won't shift back to them, either.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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