For those who can’t watch videos at work or just prefer to read, here you go – Kings coach Darryl Sutter, captain Dustin Brown, center Colin Fraser and right wing Justin Williams all had stuff to say on Monday afternoon at the team’s training facility…
Q. On the Kings being down 0-2 in the series.
WILLIAMS: We’ve been here, what, three weeks ago. Obviously it’s not do or die tomorrow, but it is. So home ice has been something that we’ve been able to rely on and have in our back pocket if we have struggled on the road, and we have. We’re going to need to use it tomorrow.
Q. Why such a disparity at home as opposed to on the road?
WILLIAMS: I don’t know. Tell you the truth, I’m not sure why we went 10-1 last year on the road. Obviously preparation is key, a lot of other factors come into it. But we’re certainly not out of it. We’re going to do the best we can to cut this lead in half and go from there. Our focus is one game. That’s what it is when you’re down two. Cut it in half, then the next day you try again if you’re successful.
Q. Yesterday Scuderi talked about, as far as the offense, he noticed there weren’t a lot of second chances for you guys. Have you noticed that?
WILLIAMS: I just finished watching video of the game and there’s a lot of neutral zone play. There’s a lot of in and outs. There’s not a lot of sustained pressure. Give them credit, they’re a good checking team. They check you and try to get you frustrated. In turn, that’s what we do. But they’ve been more successful at it than we have. Do I feel we played a better game in Game 1? Yes, but that’s what losers say.
Q. Very rarely do you play three games in four nights in the playoffs, especially after a travel day. Do you think it will have an effect in terms of fatigue?
WILLIAMS: No, I don’t think so. Maybe in the regular season, maybe a little bit more malaise. Three in four come playoff time, you get up for every game. Your heart’s pumping. You’re a little bit more excited. Every play means a little bit more. I don’t think fatigue will have anything to do with anything tomorrow.
Q. Tyler stepped into a bigger role last night. Talk about his adaptability.
WILLIAMS: I think Tyler is going to be a phenomenal NHL player for a long time. He’s had some big games for us when he’s been called upon to play. He’s always been ready. That’s what you need to do as a young player. When you’re called upon, show up. He’s done that. Gave us a little bit of life yesterday. I don’t know what the lineup will be, but we’re certainly going to need him to continue his play.
Q. Obviously some uncertainty with the lineup. That was something you didn’t have to deal with so much last year. How does that affect things, guys moving in and out?
WILLIAMS: Last year is last year. A lot of good components that go into a Stanley Cup-winning team. The first one is being a healthy team. But good teams find ways to win through adversity and build through that. We were able to win without Jarret Stoll for a large chunk of the San Jose series. We were able to win, got him back. We’re nursing injuries just like everyone else is. If we get Mike back, whenever that may be, I don’t know, we’re going to need to hold the fort until then.
Q. Are you a little anxious to get back on home ice because you’ve been so successful there this year?
WILLIAMS: I think anytime you lose, you just want to get back out there and play again. I lose a game, I want to play another one right away. I want to redeem myself, make a difference. Certainly confidence is high for us coming back home. Been a lot of success here. Guys have played well here. We’ve won every which way. We’re going to need to continue that against an extremely good team.
Q. Do you have to prevent from that becoming a crutch?
WILLIAMS: It’s not a rite of passage you’re going to win at home. We’ve earned it, especially against this team. Whether we get in there and grind to a 1-0 victory or win by more than one goal, at the end of the day, it just needs to get done tomorrow. Confidence in our dressing room, we’ve been here before. We’ve been a successful team before. You look around our room, there’s a lot of familiar faces. Confidence in one another is key, especially at this crucial point.
Q. (No microphone.)
WILLIAMS: It’s the way they play. They can pressure. They have a 1-2-2 forecheck that preys on turnovers and they have a lot of speedy forwards and defensemen that are able to jump the other way quickly. You saw that last night. A couple mistakes, end up in our net. You know, that is what it is. Sometimes it’s not going to be that clean coming through the neutral zone. It’s going to be a little sloppy, third efforts, then maybe you’re going to catch them. But we did some better things yesterday and we’re going to continue to get better.
Q. You’ve been spending more time in your own zone than you’d like. What is it going to take to change that?
WILLIAMS: I’m not here to talk about last year. All I know is we’ve won two series. They’re going to be in our zone, we know that. But we just need to elevate our game, plain and simple.
Q. Is your anxiety level going up a little bit?
BROWN: We were down 2-0 against St. Louis. The only difference is we’re in the Western Conference Finals now. With each round there’s a little more pressure. It’s a matter of handling that individually and collectively. We’re back on home ice where we’ve played very well this year. Today we looked at some video, what we can do better. It’s a matter of executing.
Q. Does that help that you’ve been here before?
BROWN: I think you can draw on the fact that we’ve been in this situation before in the sense that the series is long from over for our mindset. It’s about playing the game. I mean, we try to cut it in half tomorrow night. We’re not worried about Game 4, Game 5. We’re thinking about tomorrow night, your first shift, first play you have to make, then you go from there.
Q. Talk about what you need to do better tomorrow?
BROWN: I think neutral zone. We had a lot of turnovers in the neutral zone. Chicago is a very good checking team. They’re not an overly physical team, though. Their transition game is probably one of the better transition games in the league. Making them go 200 feet for all their chances will go a long way. I think that will come out in the game.
Q. You have played more games at this stage than you did a year ago at this point. What is the fatigue level like?
BROWN: I think it’s fair to say we’re probably not as fresh as we were last year. We had four, five days off between every series. We didn’t play as many games at this time last year. At the same time, this time of year, when you’re going through it, you’re not thinking, Oh, I’m tired. You’re reloading, getting ready to go again. It’s more mental, getting your head wrapped around it, than it is physically, I think.
Q. What changes when you come home? How are you different?
BROWN: It’s hard to say. We played better hockey at home. I think part of it is we get on the forecheck better. When you look around the league, this is probably the one year, I’m not sure of the (winning) percentages, but I’m sure it’s pretty high, league wide, it’s close to 70%, I think. Teams feed off their energy at home. Playing in front of our fans is great. Just getting off to a good start.
Q. Toffoli seems to be pretty detail oriented, too.
BROWN: I think he does the little things pretty well for a young guy. He’s not the biggest, most filled-out guy. That will come with him. The one thing that stands out with Toffoli for me is his willingness to battle it out along the walls. Sometimes you don’t see it in smaller, younger guys. He’s shown he’s willing to do that. That goes a long way in progressing as a professional. That’s probably the hardest part of the game. It’s the will on the wall.
Q. Tomorrow will be the third playoff game in four nights. What do you do physically different to corral the energy?
BROWN: Well, a day like today, again, about getting your rest. It’s been a long couple days playing back-to-back, the travel. Getting back to square one today, then tomorrow you start focusing on the mental side of things, getting yourself reloaded.
Q. As captain of this team, you have to deal with a myriad of problems. Have you talked to Kopitar a little bit, talk to him about how frustrated he is, what he can do to get out of his slump?
BROWN: I think it’s pretty fair to say as a line we’re collectively in a slump. We looked over some video today. We know what we need to do better. It’s getting into their offensive zone, our spacing is pretty significant. It’s hard to play, especially against a team like Chicago. They kind of have that man-on-man with an extra man in there. When you don’t have the spacing right, one guy eliminates the other guy, quick on the puck. Probably more importantly against Chicago, we need to have closer support in all three zones.
Q. We were talking earlier about the number of games you’re playing in a short period of time. How taxing is that on you, considering the fact you have a lot of injuries on your team?
FRASER: Yeah, every team’s in the same boat, though. Every team is playing lots of games. Maybe last year we didn’t play as many. It’s part of the playoffs, part of the run. Every team is going to play a lot of games in a short amount of time. As far as travel goes, as far as the schedule goes, they’re in the same boat as us. There’s no real advantage or disadvantage.
Q. You have a lot of injuries as well.
FRASER: Injuries are part of the game. You never want to see anyone get hurt. Get (Stoll) back, (Richards) goes down. He’s a big part of our team obviously. Never want to see a guy get hurt. With that being said, there’s nothing you can do about it either. Other guys have to step up and have the opportunity to play more, a bigger role.
Q. How do you approach being down 2-0?
FRASER: I think it’s a good thing we’re back on home ice obviously. We’ve been good at that through the playoffs, really the whole season. We have to take advantage of it, of course. Nothing we can do about the first two games. Got to move forward, iron out the wrinkles, get back to work. Definitely one shift, one period at a time. The result in the end is hopefully positive.
Q. How much are you able to put those first two behind you now that you’re home?
FRASER: I mean, St. Louis series we were down two games right away. We can still talk about the games, but at the end of the day we lost both games. We have to put them behind us. Can’t dwell on it. Especially last night, we obviously weren’t good enough. We have to move forward. Obviously we did some video today. We’ve just simply got to be better.
Q. (No microphone.)
COLIN FRASER: No, for sure. I mean, we’re comfortable on home ice. We’ve played well on home ice. We’ve proven to be good on home ice. The next step is taking advantage of it tomorrow. It’s not going to be easy obviously. We can’t expect to win just because we’re on home ice. We got to be ready to go and get back in the series.
Q. You were pushed in a corner this spring, you seemed to respond. Sharks came back strong. You responded. How many times can you go to that well, do you think? Maybe it’s more mental than physical.
FRASER: We’re certainly not making it easy on ourselves, right? I don’t know. You got to find a way. Playoffs, playing lots of games in a short amount of time, you have to find a way to dig in whether you’re tired or not. You really don’t have a choice. We know we’ve got a good team. We’ve obviously proven we’ve got a good team last year and this year. I think we’ve answered to the adversity we had this year. We’ve just got to do it again.
Q. What did the video show you you have to do better next game?
FRASER: It’s no secret how both teams play. They’re a fast team. All four lines can skate. They really feed off our turnovers. They get it up right away, whether it’s D to D, right up. In my opinion, they, more than any other team, get that stretch guy stretched right now. They have so much speed, they get on the forecheck obviously very well. Number one, no turnovers. Can’t turn the puck over, because they feed right into that. I think simplicity, get the puck deep, make them go back and get pucks, make them play defense. Less time and space will mean less speed for them.
Q. Because you played so well in the playoffs, how do you guard about taking things for granted at home?
FRASER: Matchups, I think. We’ve got to put who we want out against their top players. It’s a big part of the game, especially in hockey. You got to win those matchups, too, right? Whatever line you’re matched up, you have to be better than. Can’t take it for granted on home ice. It’s hard work. It’s not going to be easy by any means. I guess we got to get back to basics, get back to how we were playing before, like Game 7, Game 5 of San Jose.
Q. You talk about injuries. Talk about guys being able to adapt.
FRASER: Carter has played center. Before his NHL career started, he was a centerman. He can play anywhere. Toff (Toffoli) is in and out of the lineup. Every time he comes in, he flourishes and does well. He’s a young kid, but he’s a smart player. You put him with guys like Carter, they’re going to make something happen. They’re shooting, offensive type players that are creative and can get the job done.
Q. Are you at all surprised with how quick they jumped on you yesterday? Why do you think that happened?
FRASER: I mean, that’s their identity as a team. Quickness on the ice. They got off to a better start. We shouldn’t be surprised. We talk about it all the time. We know what they’re going to do. We just have to have better starts. We talked about it in San Jose when we played in San Jose. They seemed to jump all over us, as well. For whatever reason, we weren’t quite ready or quite as sharp as we should have been. Sometimes, like last night, it’s almost too little too late kind of thing. The old cliché, you got to have a good start, it’s huge. Sets the tone for the whole game.
Q. How do you battle discouragement?
FRASER: It’s adversity. I think adversity can be a good thing sometimes if you can get through it. I mean, injuries are part of hockey. Every team’s had their injuries at some point. Things like that, there’s nothing you can do. There’s nothing you can do also about the first two games. You can sit there and dwell on it or move forward, just play our best game. We have to bring our best game in Game 3.
Q. The health of your club right now, is that in the utmost part of your mind because of all the injuries you sustained?
SUTTER: Well, we’re certainly used to it. We made a lot of decisions literally game to game, or last night made it between warmup and game. It’s something we’re used to. We’ve handled it really well. It becomes a factor the farther you go because of the quality of play. We’ve handled it really well as a group.
Q. Talk about the effect of three games in four nights.
SUTTER: I think somebody asked after the game, we have five games in 10 days coming up. It’s taxing on the guys. For sure it is. We chose to come home last night. By the time you shut her down, you shut her down at 2:30 in the morning. Today you’re just trying to get close to full again. It’s hard.
Q. Is there any explanation for the disparity between the record at home and on the road?
SUTTER: We played really well in Chicago. We haven’t played a game at home yet.
Q. Just in the playoffs in general, such a huge disparity.
SUTTER: Every game we lost, every time we lost, we lost every game 2-1 till last night. I don’t think that’s a huge gap in performance or play at all. We’ve had trouble scoring, not just playoffs. We’ve had trouble scoring, going back six games in the season, we had trouble scoring. Even though we finished fifth in the conference. We saw it last year in the playoffs, too. It’s not a home/road disparity at all. You know what, we’re a good hockey club. We’re not surprising anybody. There’s no upsets now. We’re the team that’s trying to surprise the team that finished first overall. If you look at the teams we played so far in the playoffs, home-ice teams. That’s part of it.
Q. The struggles of Brown and Kopitar.
SUTTER: They struggled offensively, for sure. That’s not me jumping out making a statement. That is a fact. That’s a statistical fact.
Q. This team is used to coming back from adversity. Does that help?
SUTTER: I don’t know if it helps, but it doesn’t hurt. I don’t know if it helps. We’ll see at the end of the game if it helps. We’re going to play the same way. We’re not going to say, Oh, pressure, adversity. That’s why we’re a good hockey club. That doesn’t come into play. We know how our team can play. We need guys to get better a little bit if they can, if they can play through what’s wrong with them, find something in their game a little bit more, things we can help them with. That makes them a little better. That’s how we’ll stay alive.
Q. When you talked about Mike last night, you said to him, If you’re not 100%, you’re not going, has that (indiscernible)?
SUTTER: That’s a general attitude in sport. I would say it’s not an evolvement. That’s a player you trust. You know how he plays. I told him, he was fine all day, but I think once he got to the United Center last night, he starts thinking about being a warrior, he starts going through his routine, you go through your meeting, then you go out for warmup. He knows himself. That’s the first thing I did after warmup. It’s not just for Mike. We had guys in warmup that were banged up. You got to check. You don’t turn your roster in till about 16 minutes before the game. That’s what we waited till.
Q. 20 years ago, does that play out the same way?
SUTTER: Probably not, ’cause you didn’t talk to yourself about it as a player. You know what, you just played. You didn’t go ask somebody. Wasn’t a huge staff watching you. Basically it was you and your teammates, a couple coaches.
Q. (No microphone.)
SUTTER: I’m not sure quite that same one where it’s symptom-related. But certainly guys that are getting froze up, can’t get it froze up, that sort of thing, you got to make the decision. Guys tell me whether they can play or not. You have to have the backup plan and be ready for it. That’s the first thing you do. It’s tough to lose a player at that time. But the first thing you have to do as a head coach is to address it as a group. It’s not like Mike Richards is a guy you sort of spot in your lineup. He’s a significant part of everything. If you’re into matchups, faceoffs, penalty killing, last minutes, first minutes, it moves everybody around a little bit. You could say how you’re going to adjust, but what you want guys to do in those situations, what they have to do, they have to be ready for it. But you’re not replacing that player.
Q. If Mike can’t go tomorrow…
SUTTER: That’s where Mike would have played last night, and they were our best line. The adjustments they made, how does that affect 16 minutes before the game, that line was awesome. I think Tyler was nervous early, made a couple mistakes. I think Jeff and Dustin’s experience, I think they did a really good job for us.
Q. Protocol still the same for Game 3 for Mike?
SUTTER: I can’t talk no more about it, quite honest. You talked about Fraser and Jarrett last series. Same questions you have are the same ones I have. It’s not today, it’s tomorrow, right? It’s after activity, how they react, if they’re allowed activity. There’s no secret to it. It’s how they react to it. That’s what we do.
Q. Is the approach being down two as simple as shift by shift? Is it desperation?
SUTTER: We’re not a team that gets ahead of ourselves, down on ourselves, up on ourselves, listen to what somebody else says. We just keep it in there, stay within ourselves. Doesn’t matter if we’re up two, down two. You know, the other team knows they’re going to have their hands full.
Q. Does that same philosophy apply to Kopitar because he’s been in a scoring slump?
SUTTER: I’m sure he’s frustrated. We spend a lot of time together talking about stuff, working on stuff, trying to find little areas that he can do differently or do better. I don’t lose any sleep over Kopy. He’s not a guy that takes shortcuts. He does everything he can to do well. I think he handles that really well. Other than last year, he hasn’t been a guy that’s played much playoffs or had success at playoffs. So, you know what, it’s still a great experience for him.
Q. About Kopitar, what can he do better or differently?
SUTTER: I think it’s pretty evident. When Kopy has the puck, he’s a top player in the league. When he doesn’t have the puck, he’s a good checker. That means he could have the puck more. Quite honestly, he can support the puck better. Certainly who he plays with can feel privileged that they’re playing with a top player. They should be doing everything they can to play with him.
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