Following the Kings and Blackhawks taking morning skate on Monday, both coach Darryl Sutter and Joel Quenneville shared thoughts with the media on Chicago’s 1-0 lead in the series, plus a myriad of other topics…
Q. News out of Montréal is that Price is out for that series. How fine a line is that from both sides, the attacking and defending sides, to keep people off the goaltender?
SUTTER: Yeah, I think it’s really important. I think always when your goalie gets hit, you’re defending your goalie. As attacking players, you’re telling your players to go to the net. Such a fine line. If you look at the Montréal play, they’re both right. If you look at our play last night, they’re both right. One guy’s trying to score, which is what we try to do ever since we played the game, and the goalie’s trying to stop the puck, so… I’m just glad we’re not talking about it in a sense, not that it was a goal or not a goal, I’m glad we’re not talking about that today because our goalie was hurt. Not that their Jonathan was trying to run into our Jonathan, just the point that our goalie wasn’t hurt.
Q. In terms of fitting in with the style you play in L.A., where have you seen the biggest growth in Gaborik’s game?
SUTTER: Good players fit in everywhere. It’s not like we have a special way we play. I mean, teams are still playing a 200-foot game. Marian fits in because he plays a 200-foot game.
Q. Joel was talking about the challenge of having Jonathan’s line up against Anze’s line, both lines of capable of doing all things. Are you okay with that match-up? Does it work for you as well?
SUTTER: Well, typically Kopy plays with Gabby, and typically Hossa plays for Toews. Don’t call them lines. Did you know that Bickell was on that line? Did you know that Brown was on the Kopitar line? So don’t call them lines. You got to go another step further. If you’re just saying Toews versus Kopitar, well, then don’t worry about who’s playing with them.
Q. You’ve had two emotional series against divisional rivals. Didn’t seem your team had that deep emotion like you had against the Ducks and Sharks?
SUTTER: Yesterday? I thought we played a hell of a game. Take advantage of our opportunities. There was one scrum. The one scrum there was, if we were moaning about calls today, the one scrum there was that we got called on, too bad they couldn’t review it.
Q. Speaking of review, where do you stand on reviewing any incidents of contact with the goaltender or obstruction?
SUTTER: As long as it doesn’t hold the game up, and quite honestly I’m really comfortable with the process the way it works now, most of it does come from Toronto, unless it’s a definitive call on the ice. If you look at yesterday by the rule of the book, it is the right call. Whether you like it or not, it is. The only reason that they’re reviewing it is to see if it was in before the contact, so… What is that process? I think we’ve come so far, I don’t know, other than to take it right out of the official’s hands, which is not what I want, what anybody wants. I mean, that was the intent of the two-referee system, things like that, give a little bit more power to the linesmen in situations like that, so they go and talk about it quick. That’s what they did. You know, there was a lot of talk this past summer about throwing the flag. But our game is not stop, start. It’s more on the fly. So the more that you pull those situations into it, the more it sort of spaces your game out. I’m not for that.
Q. Two of your brothers played for the Islanders when they were considered a dynasty. There were other dynasties. Now we’re in an era of salary caps and parity. You’re back here and the Blackhawks are back here. What has allowed your teams to do what you’re not supposed to do in this era?
SUTTER: I think you have to adjust to the way the game is changing and playing. I think you have to adjust to different lineups as you go forward. I think Chicago, they won it last year. If you look at the last time they won it, the massive overhaul on their team, probably other than their young stars. If you look at them, you still have to be able to do that. You have to be able to adjust to the game, adjust to the rules, adjust to the style. I think that’s a big reason why we’re both in the Conference Finals again. Whether we can adjust enough to beat the Stanley Cup champions, I don’t know.
Q. To clarify, did you feel like Bollig took a dive there?
Q. You said you thought your team played a heck of a game yesterday. Was it one of those games where it felt like one of the mistakes you made one at your net, failures to clear your puck on the power-play goal, turnovers led up to the next two?
SUTTER: There are turnovers during the game. There’s a little bit of this thing going on in the playoffs about turning the puck over. They are mistakes. You can’t just hit the button that says ‘perfect’. There are little turnovers. That’s going to happen. You’re going to rely on not using those little turnovers or little mistakes as reasons why you lost. Teams are pretty close, I think.
Q. Kopitar and Toews, what makes these guys play so well in this 200-foot game? Is that in the genes, in the teaching on the way up, getting it at the NHL level? Every coach, I think, prizes these guys. How do they get to be who they are?
SUTTER: If you’re just talking about those two kids, they’ve both played on big stages. Obviously Canada is probably more familiar with Toews because of all the stuff he’s represented for his country.
Meanwhile, over on the Chicago side…
Q. Coach, as far as Shaw, skated again today.
Q. How his progress is going, what the prognosis is for Game 2?
QUENNEVILLE: We’ll see. We’ll put him in practice tomorrow in the full group, make an assessment tomorrow. He’s made some real good progress the last few days. Felt pretty good today.
Q. You have to be pretty pleased with the way your team has played without him in the lineup.
QUENNEVILLE: Yeah, he brings a real nice element to our team, helped our power play along. He scores big goals for us. He has that tenacity. Good in the puck area. Got some skill. Real competitive guy. In a tough series, that element seems to be shared by everyone. Getting through Minnesota was a tough test for us. Even in yesterday’s game as well, without his presence, getting through it without him is something that we know that element, we got to absorb it because he really brings an intangible to our team that you can use through games and as a season and a series progresses. It will be fun to get him back in our lineup. Look forward to it.
Q. When you deploy Toews and Hossa against their number one line, are you confident they’ll be able to outperform the other top line?
QUENNEVILLE: You think you can generate against a real good team, a real good line. I think both centers, they’re excellent both ways. It’s a great matchup. It’s a good test. I think both lines have all the ingredients that make them top lines, top lines throughout the league. It’s a good challenge for us. I think you’re just comfortable with it both ways. At the end of the day hopefully they can get the job done.
Q. The news out of Montréal is that Price is gone for the rest of that series. How big a job is it that nobody takes liberties with your goaltender?
QUENNEVILLE: I think the coach even admitted he thought it was an accident. It’s tough to go in with a mindset… We want to protect the goalie, make sure we’re hard in front of net. Playoff time, regular season as far as that goes, wants to go to the net hard. That’s where you want to end up being if you want to be productive. At the same time we all know the line and the objective there. We want to make sure that they don’t get to the front of our net, they don’t get those kind of goals. The way the league is, the way it’s called, it’s something that you talk about a lot. But to say exactly how to prevent it, it’s something that can happen. It can happen to anybody, as well.
Q. Joel, essentially the same Kings team you’ve been seeing for a couple years. The big difference is Gaborik. How does he change things?
QUENNEVILLE: The top line is very dangerous. They’re a real threat off the rush. They have some real patience with the puck. Their play recognition is higher. They’re a threat to score almost every time they’re on the ice. They all have patience and play recognition that is very high end throughout the league. So I think that line particularly is something that really gets your attention, who’s on the ice. We want to make sure we’re not spending the whole shift in your end, try to get them to spend time in their end is what it’s all about.
Q. You played in an era of actual dynasties. How much different is it trying to continue the excellence you’ve had year after year with the way the NHL is now, salary cap, parity around, management smart in every team?
QUENNEVILLE: Well, it’s been a real nice situation here. I think we’re very excited. We look back to 2010, we had a real young team. The growth of these young players has been the core of our team since then. They’re competitive guys. Our team has been built around these guys. Our success is attributed to their competitiveness, their consistency, their will to be as good as they can be on a regular basis. A lot of guys, without mentioning names, they love winning, they like making each other better. They push each other in a real good way. But you’re right about the league, how tight and competitive it is. We felt this year we’re in the toughest division and conference. We just played two real competitive series. Every game is tight. I think finding a way to win is what it’s all about in today’s game. Our guys are really diligent of doing the little things particularly that some nights give you an edge.
Q. Your team is rolling pretty good. Are you satisfied with where they are, with how they’re playing, or do you still look for more improvement?
QUENNEVILLE: I don’t think people looked at the way we played in the Minnesota series in that we were playing at the level of our expectations were. I was happy and comfortable the way we played being successful and getting the job done against a real good team is what we were looking for. As you progress in series, you progress in a new series, you got to escalate your level of play. One thing, our guys like the challenge, knowing we have to be the best we can be each and every game against this team to have success. But that’s a challenge. I didn’t mind the way we played yesterday. I still think we got to improve off of yesterday’s level.
Q. You didn’t have to tinker too much yesterday. You flipped Saad and Sharp. Did you like what you got from that?
QUENNEVILLE: Scored right away. I think some guys go in better than other guys during the course of a game. You give it a look and see how it goes.
Q. You talked about the playoffs, power plays. Down to two a game for each team. That second group, did they do anything different than your first group?
QUENNEVILLE: They’ve been scoring a lot more than the first group in the playoffs (laughter). You just look at the way they scored it. I think they retrieved I don’t know how many loose pucks that we sustained in that offensive zone. They just get it back. Again, bulk of our power play goals in the playoffs have been deflections at the net. I think they’re all capable of making plays, all have patience with the puck. The puck retrieval yesterday was very noticeable and what led to the goal. Their tenacity, on the power play sometimes you’re looking to make, I don’t want to say pretty play, but the perfect play, and sometimes, you know, just pursuing pucks and being hard on them and the loose pucks in traffic and point shots. The first unit was shooting the puck, too. We didn’t mind that as well. We don’t usually call them first and second units (laughter).
Q. Hjalmarsson was in here earlier talking and said that he didn’t think that blocking shots was necessarily a skill, that anybody in the league can do it. Do you view it that way? How important is his ability to do that?
QUENNEVILLE: I think there’s a little bit of a skill to it. I think knowing when you’re close enough to the puck, it’s a likelihood of hitting you in a more favorable place, it can prevent serious injuries, self-inflicted wounds for that matter. Certain guys are more willing than others. There’s anticipation when the shot is going to be made. The danger factor, what you’re preventing, when you’re killing penalties, there’s a lot of looks when a guy is coming down, loading it up, you’re right there. He has a good knack of knowing he’s willing. His positioning is what you’re looking for. Sometimes they don’t shoot it, but a lot of times they will. I still think there’s a little bit of, I don’t necessarily want to say art, but you can call it hockey sense.
Q. When it comes to controlling an opponent’s top line, how much of it is being able to match up? Will it be more challenging to contain the Kopitar line in Los Angeles?
QUENNEVILLE: We’ll talk about it then. We’re worried about the next game. Matchups, we’ll see how that all plays out.
Q. You got the fourth liners back together. Were they tapping back into what they were doing?
QUENNEVILLE: I like the way they played. It’s been a long time since they’ve been together. For most of the season where they were effective in the defensive zone, I still thought they had offensive zone shifts. They had puck possession. They had physical shifts as well. It looked like the band was back together as far as that group goes.