EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Darryl Sutter has Rocky Balboa's speech pattern, and his mindset.
It's unwise to suggest to Sutter, the Kings' coach, that his players should win, or even that they're playing well. He will usually contort his face into a multi-layered scowl and grumble some semi-intelligible dissent.
Sutter, it seems, enjoys being disregarded. Perhaps that, as much as anything, explains why the Kings refuse to die. They're 5-0 in elimination games in these playoffs, and face their biggest one yet Friday night, when they play the Ducks in Game 7 of their second-round series at Honda Center.
"We're going into a building against a (Ducks) team that finished 16 points ahead of us," Sutter said. "So you can talk all you want. There's a big underdog going in against the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference."
It's a bit laughable to cast these guys as the Gutty Little Kings, given that they're two years removed from a championship and have one of the best goalies in the world. They're every bit as fearsome as the Ducks. Two weeks ago, they played a Game 7 in San Jose and stomped the Sharks, 5-1.
This series is tied, 3-3, and each team has scored 13 goals. The home team has a 2-4 record.
"The underdog is us," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said Thursday. "They've been there. They've won the Stanley Cup. I thought it was pretty funny when Darryl said that, and he actually said it with a straight face. I don't know who he's trying to buffalo, but it sure isn't us."
Sutter loves the mental side of the game, though. His former players in Calgary tell stories about how he would walk into the locker room, show them a negative headline, then throw the newspaper in the trash.
A lifelong rancher, Sutter loves to talk about farm life, but he's no rube. As a young player, he turned down offers from three Ivy League schools and turned pro. He knows what he's doing, and enjoys creating an us-against-them mentality, even if the "them" is sometimes a propped-up straw man.
Sutter seemingly wanted to get into the Ducks' heads, and center Jarret Stoll went along with the underdog theme.
"I'd say we are, yeah," Stoll said. "They're a great team. They've got a lot of great things going on over there. I'd say a lot of pressure is on them. A lot of pressure is on their goaltender. A lot of pressure is on their entire team to win on home ice."
Veteran defenseman Willie Mitchell, out since April 28 with a lower-body injury, continues to practice lightly but has yet to go through full-team drills. Robyn Regehr (upper-body injury) remains out. ...
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is 5-0 in elimination games in these playoffs, with a 1.20 goals-against average and a .962 save percentage. ...
The Kings have a 6-1 record in these playoffs when they score the first goal, and a 1-5 record when they allow the first goal. The team scoring the first goal has a 25-1 record in the four second-round series.
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