"We haven't played our best hockey," star winger Marian Gaborik conceded Tuesday.
"I don't think we have played our best game yet," echoed blueliner Jake Muzzin. "We can put a full 60 together. At spurts we have been good, but we have to put a full 60 together. If we are at our best, we can do that and we'll be OK."
A full 60 would mean eliminating those brain-cramp stretches of the game in which the Kings have not looked like the Kings, coughing up the puck, giving Anaheim outnumbered chances.
"I think if we limit the turnovers, and if we play like we did in the third period, with a lot of poise and urgency, and keep getting to [John] Gibson, getting shots through, finding rebounds, fighting for the puck, that would be a good way to start," said Gaborik, who leads the NHL playoffs with eight goals.
Well, since Gaborik mentioned John Gibson, what of the Ducks rookie goalie? All he's done is stop 69 of the 72 shots he's faced in his two starts. The first star in Game 4, the second star in Game 5.
Are the Kings getting a little tired of hearing about the young phenom?
"Well I mean, kind of. Kind of, yes," Gaborik said.
Doughty said he wasn't bothered by all the Gibson talk.
"We know we can beat him," said Doughty. "We know he's a very good goalie -- at the same time, they're good shot-blockers, which means that at times they're screening him, so we just need to get pucks by those guys. We got a lot of shots last night, he made some big saves, but at the same time, we haven't done everything we can. We can get more bodies in front of him, tips, some more rebounds.
"As good as he is, he's not impossible to beat. I'd take Quickie over him any day, still."
Jonathan Quick became harder to beat as the series against the Sharks stretched on. He was downright awesome in the opening two games at Honda Center but has since been human.
Again, just based on past practice, you know there's a chance he delivers a gem Wednesday night at Staples Center.
The real concern, perhaps, is just how much energy the Kings are spending to extend their season each round. Seven versus the Sharks, and it's going to take seven to get past Anaheim. What's left in the tank?
"It is a grind, but it's the whole playoffs, you don't have one team dominating in the whole playoffs," reasoned Gaborik. "They are very even series out there. We knew that would be the case, that this series would be tight. The key will be to start well tomorrow and hopefully get a lead and go from there."
The team scoring first is 5-0 in this series. With two teams that play a very similar style, the first goal has allowed that team to set the tone. Playing catch-up hasn't suited either team very well.
So much focus on what the Kings have done wrong of late, it's easy to forget that the Ducks have something to do with that, particularly the way their four-line forecheck has created those L.A. turnovers.
"The Ducks have played well against us, obviously, they've played really well," said Doughty. "All four of their lines are very good and they were all dominant in yesterday's game, so I think a lot of it is them. But at the same time, we can control what we do, and we're not doing it to the best of our ability, whether it's individually or as a team, and I think that in order to win, we need to play as a team."