By Jarret Stoll
For a team like ours where a lot of the young players don’t have any post-season experience, you have to battle just to make the playoffs, to say nothing of making it out of the first round.
Playoff experience is one of those intangibles that are tough to get, but guys who have it know how hard you have to battle in order to win. Every small detail in the playoffs is magnified and the only way to understand what that means is to go through it.
The playoffs are important both for us as a team and the fans as well. They want to come and see important, hard-fought, meaningful games. Our fan base is great out here, but it can always improve and competing in the playoffs is the best way to do that.
When I went to the Stanley Cup final with the Edmonton Oilers in 2006 it was the best time I’ve ever had playing hockey. If you go through a playoff run, it doesn’t matter what city you’re in, every decision you make during the course of a game is huge. The fans get behind you – they’re like a family back there. In Edmonton they were really behind us and there was a lot of good energy in the city, but when we made that run all of western Canada got behind us.
You need a lot of luck along the way to get to the playoffs. Bounces and a lot of other things have to go your way in order to get there, but we’re definitely going in the right direction with the team we have.
We need to put together a good stretch, because we haven’t really had one yet. We’ve had a four- or five-game winning streak here and there, but we need to put together a good 10-game stretch where we don’t lose too many.
We need to get as many points as we can because there are a few teams we need to leapfrog. We just have to win, that’s the only thing we can do. It’s easy to say, but tough to do. We need consistency and everyone has to be on board because that’s how you win games. It’s going to be a grind and it’s going to be tough, but we feel we have the guys to do it.
I’m really impressed with the guys and the skill level on this team. We’re in every game, but there were a lot of games this season that we felt as a group we should have won. We let some wins slip away, but I’m sure every team can look at three or four games they could or should have won that would have put them in a better situation.
We’re gaining some playoff drive experience and that’s important to have. We’re playing games where you come into the rink with added pressure and teams tend to play better when they have a sense of urgency. I think we’re one of those teams. We’re playing a little bit better and with a little more consistency lately because we know we have to play desperate.
Jarret Stoll was drafted in the second round, 46th overall by the Flames in 2000, but re-entered the draft in 2002 where the Oilers picked him 36th overall. He played five seasons in Edmonton, scoring 165 points, before being dealt to the Kings in the summer of 2008. Read his other entries HERE.
For more information on Jarret Stoll and the Kings, go to lakings.com.