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Playoffs 2013Sutter, Hitchcock provide wildly opposite personalities

Posted: Friday, May 3, 2013 | 08:02 PM

Categories: Hockey Night in Canada, Los Angeles Kings, Playoffs 2013, STL vs LA, St. Louis Blues

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Kings bench boss Darryl Sutter, left, and Blues counterpart Ken Hitchcock, right, provide great coaching despite varying personalities. (Associated Press) Kings bench boss Darryl Sutter, left, and Blues counterpart Ken Hitchcock, right, provide great coaching despite varying personalities. (Associated Press)

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There are a lot of contrasts in the series between the Los Angeles King and St. Louis, including the coaching styles of Darryl Sutter and Ken Hitchcock.
ST. LOUIS -- There are a lot of contrasts in the series between the Los Angeles King, who won the most recent Stanley Cup, and the St. Louis Blues, who have never won a Stanley Cup.

But nowhere are the dynamics more obvious than behind the benches with Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, 61, who has 605 regular-season wins in his NHL career, second among active skippers and 11th overall. He has won a Stanley Cup and been to the finals twice.

Darryl Sutter, 54, coached the Kings to a Stanley Cup last season, and he's been to the finals twice. He has 461 regular-season wins, which is fourth among actives and 20th all time.

They are wildly different in personality. Hitchcock can be engaging and illuminating in a press conference situation. Sutter can be less forthcoming than prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

"They are obviously two of the best," said Kings forward Mike Richards, 27, who played for Hitchcock in Philadelphia. "Darryl is one of the most intense guys I've had coaching me.

Darryl knows potential and he makes sure he gets the best out of you. That's a big reason why we won last year. He was able to make us find our best and give our best.

"I had Hitch when I was just 19-20-years-old. He was hard on me, like a lot of coaches are on young players. He's a tactician and sometimes younger players need to have the reigns pulled back, and sometimes they need to be ridden a bit. He did both of those things with me, probably more of the riding. Both have helped get to where I am as a player. "

Hitchcock calls Sutter a "great coach," and the respect is mutual. The two had many confrontations when Hitchcock was in Dallas and Sutter was in San Jose.

"The games [have] changed a lot, to be quite honest," Sutter said. "Hitch beat the hell out us in Dallas. I was lucky to get one back at him last year."

Kings in unfamiliar territory

The last time the Kings were 0-2 in a series was a first-round meeting with Colorado in 2002. The Kings lost the first two games in Denver by scores of 4-3 and 5-3 - note the one-goal decisions, same as this series.

The Kings split the next two games in Los Angeles before ultimately losing in seven games. The only time the Kings have won a playoff series after falling behind 0-2 was in 2001, when they rallied to beat Detroit in six games.

In their history, the Kings are 1-10 overall and 1-9 in best-of-seven series when they start 0-2.

Our own oddities

L.A. has not scored a 5-on-5 goal yet in the series. Its tying goal with 32 seconds to play in Game 1 came on a 6-on-5 setting, as Jonathan Quick was on the bench. The Kings' goal in Game 2 came during a 5-on-3 power play.

"It doesn't matter how you translate it, you're not going to win any games if we don't score a goal five-on-five," Sutter said.

More oddities

Kings centre Anze Kopitar's last goal came on March 25. He has gone 18 games without a goal. In the same time frame, stay-at-home Blues defenceman Barret Jackman has two goals.

Kopitar has 173 goals in 522 NHL games. Jackman has 23 goals in 644 NHL games.

Working overtime

L.A. defenceman Drew Doughty recorded a game-high 29:45 of ice time on Thursday. Blues defender Alex Pietrangelo was right behind, as he was on the ice for 26:31.

Elliott briefly shaken

Kings forward Dustin Brown literally crashed the net on Thursday, slamming into the post and into Blues goaltender Brian Elliott. Both Brown and Elliott were down momentarily afterward. Elliott needed several minutes of attention before he shook things off and resumed his position.

On Friday, Elliott said he has been expecting the contact.

"I knew they were going to drive hard. It was just kind of a play that usually happens at this time of year," he said. "Everybody just kind of crashing the net. Definitely didn't feel good right away but I was able to continue. That's a good thing, and made a stop. Move on from there."

As for whether there are any lingering problems ...

"You never really know," Elliott added "You get the first shock of pain, but it's obviously just kind of skating it off there and it felt good. Nothing more to it."

Kings' home record best in NHL

Hitchcock is well aware of the Kings' record at home this season, which is a NHL best 19-4-1. The Blues were victimized twice in L.A., including a game they led 4-0.

"They've obviously collected a lot of points in this building," Hitchcock said. "They play well. I don't know that they play any different, but they really build on momentum of offensive success, especially against us. Both games were kind of close and then they kind of stretched them out in the second half of the game.

"For us, we just have to play 60 minutes of with competitive composure. We're going to have to absorb some blows, just like you do any place on the road, but we just have to maintain our composure."

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