In just about two hours all the talk of the last five months will be washed away and the NHL season officially begins for the Los Angeles Kings.
Opening against a team as rich in history as the New York Rangers gives today’s game a little something extra. Just ask the players. Prior to leaving for Europe, several of them shared some thoughts on today’s game…
Willie Mitchell – “It’s always fun to play them, they’re an original six team. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve played in the league – if you haven’t played that long, you look forward to playing against the Rangers and guys that have been around, like me or Ethan Moreau, it’s always a team that you look to have a lot of fun playing against because the tradition and history.”
Drew Doughty – “I love playing the Rangers. They’ve been in the league a long time. This off season, they picked up Brad Richards and that’s going to make them a much better team. I think it’s going to be a great test for us to start the season. They’re one of the better teams in the East and I definitely think we’re one of the better teams in the West. So, it’s going to be a real battle.”
Anze Kopitar – “I’m sure it’s going to be hyped up (in Stockholm) and I’m sure they might have a few more fans in the arena, because of their goaltender. But, it is what it is. We know that team and obviously we want to get off to a good start and then see what happens.”
Jarret Stoll – “(This weekend) will be two teams we don’t really see that much, so we get that out of the way pretty quick. We’re going to (watch) a lot of video on them. We’re just going to try and come out of the gates flying. Hopefully we can get two wins because it’s really important to start the year on the right foot and get wins under your belt early. We saw that last year, first had. We had that 12-3 record and by the end of the season we needed those 12 wins. So, being ready for the start of the year can really help you over the long run.
Brad Ricahrdson – “I think everyone is going to be excited to just start the season. We’re excited to get going. It will be fun and we’re hoping to get started on the right track against the Rangers.”
Rob Scuderi – “It seems a lot of talent and a new look for the Rangers. I think they’ll be a good challenge for us.”
Simon Gagne – “It’s always fun to play against the teams that have a lot of history. It’s always special when you jump on the ice too and you see that jersey they’re wearing. I had the chance to play against them for many years when I was in Philly and it’s always a battle against those guys. They play a tough system, especially now with John Tortorella as coach. So, over the last couple of years they’ve been harder to play against. They’re a team with a tight system and for us, it’s going to be work first. We’re going to have to work and battle those guys if we want to win. You can’t go out there expecting just a skill game, even if they have some skilled guys. It’s going to be a lot of work against the Rangers.”
Of course, Mike Richards was on MayorsManor earlier this summer and talked about his ‘hatred’ that’s developed for the Rangers over the many years of playing them when he was a member of the Flyers. He also talked about his willingness to drop the gloves today in his LA Kings debut. If you missed that interview, click here to read it now.
There are also several other Kings-Rangers related articles linked below.
LA Kings players on what it means to skate at Madison Square Garden – home of the Rangers
Post-game notes and video highlights from Kings vs Rangers – February 2011