NEWARK, N.J. -- Kings center Mike Richards has deep respect for coach Darryl Sutter and his work in turning Los Angeles into a contender after taking over for Terry Murray, but there's no disputing that Sutter has can irritate players when they don't meet his expectations.
Murray was popular with players but some didn't think he was tough enough when it came to disciplining them. Sutter will never be accused of being too soft. He has little patience and a reputation for unleashing his wrath when he sees sloppy play, particularly turnovers in the defensive zone.
There were nights in which Richards wanted to snap back at him on the bench but kept his mouth shut. Now, he understand Sutter's barking.
"On the bench, he’s an intense guy," Richards said. "He wants to get every single drop out of you, and that’s what you want. It’s not good to have an off night. It’s something you have to push and drive through. Some nights, you might be grinding your teeth at him, but at the end of the day, you know he’s trying to get the best out of you. You can’t expect anything more from a coach."
You can't argue with the results, either. The Kings had struggled for much of the season before coming together in the playoffs. They had struggled to score goals under Murray. Sutter has them scoring more without compromising a sound defensive system they played under Murray.
Their style and goaltender Jonathan Quick have contributed to the Kings' 13-2 record in the postseason and 1-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup final going into Game Two tomorrow night in the Prudential Center. The Kings have won all nine road games in the postseason, a record.
"He gives you free reign to do what you need to do on the ice," Richards said. "Everybody is here for a reason. They have the skill set to make some plays. If you see it, make it. Just make sure it’s not a turnover going the other way because you’re definitely going to hear about it."
--- Bucky Gleason