Following the Kings 5-2 win in Game 4, giving them a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Blackhawks, here’s what Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar had to share…
Q. Justin, having been in their position, in a hole, does that help you maybe know how to deal with this position?
JUSTIN WILLIAMS: We just know we don’t want to be in that position. Character comes out a lot more when your backs are against the wall and it’s win or go home. That’s why the games get harder every game you win. Going into Game 5 we’re obviously going to try our best to finish it off because we know we’re going to have as desperate a team as there is.
Q. Kings came out and scored three goals in the first period. What was Darryl’s message to you before the game?
ANZE KOPITAR: Nothing new really. You know, it’s the same game plan. On top of that game plan, I guess it’s a good start. We were able to get a couple quick ones tonight. Certainly the start that we wanted. I think we got the crowd into it. The building was loud. It was good.
Q. Seems like you have solidified on the back end both five-on-five and the PK. Do you see guys like Slava and Muzz playing with more confidence?
WILLIAMS: They’re great players. They’ve played a lot of playoff games. Slava has played over 50 playoff games and been in the league only three years. He’s been battle-tested. Muzz is eating up a lot of minutes and playing hard, as well. When they’re out there, we know they’re going to play hard, they’re going to play strong. I know the Blackhawks know that, as well.
Q. Toews got two in the first period before, what has been the secret keeping him off the board?
KOPITAR: With a player like that, the caliber, you just try to limit his time and space on the ice. He’s going to get chances and he’s going to make good plays. That’s just how it is. You want to just eliminate his chances off our mistakes. That’s really the way to go. Try to check him as good as we can.
Q. How much has Gaborik changed the dynamic on the power play for you guys?
WILLIAMS: Well, he’s a threat. I think when any team is scouting us, they’re looking at the weapons out there. He’s one of the biggest ones, especially in the slot area where he gets a lot of his goals. Regardless if he gets the puck or not, they pay attention to him. If he doesn’t score, which doesn’t happen very often, someone else is going to have a great chance.
Q. You look down the score sheet, you see five different scorers. Talk about the depth, how this team has grown.
KOPITAR: I think this time of the year you need that. I think we have four lines that can score, any given night can play against any line really. That’s the depth you need in the playoffs. We certainly have that in the room. Every single guy in that room who is in the lineup you know is giving their all. That’s what you need.
Q. Justin, as you inch closer and closer to your goal, is it hard not to think about just how close you are, what you can do on Wednesday?
WILLIAMS: I don’t think it’s hard at all. What is it, not to look ahead? Anyway, we’re not looking ahead. Chicago last year I believe were down 3-1 as well. Every team has been through experiences which make them better, especially Stanley Cup championship teams like Chicago and us.
We’ve been through a lot. Persevered through a lot. They’re down 3-1. We’re trying to squash them. They’re trying to get some life.
Q. Before the series everybody thought these two teams were very close. Is it surprising at all to get up 4-0 on them in a game they thought they had to win?
WILLIAMS: Scoring the first goal, it was the first time we did it. That was obviously our intent to come out. Shocked to be up 4-0? Absolutely. But that’s the way the game went. From there on I thought they pretty much took it to us five-on-five. That’s something we need to look at.
Q. Can you talk about the confidence this team has the way you’re playing right now.
KOPITAR: I think we’re playing with a lot of confidence. At the same time, you know, we still realize, just like Justin said right now, they took it to us second half of the game. There’s certainly stuff that we can look at. We’ll have to improve for next game ’cause, you know, they’re going to be a desperate team. Their backs are against the wall. We expect their full effort and their full desperation, urgency, whatever you want to call it, in Game 5.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, same answer (smiling).
Q. When we talk to you during the playoffs, we always hear, We don’t feel we played our best. If you think back to earlier in the playoffs, first round compared to now, how much have you guys improved? How much better are you now?
WILLIAMS: Well, winning the game doesn’t mean you played a flawless game. There’s a lot of things you can clean up. Winning the game means you just did a lot of things better than they did. So, you know, for us going forward, it’s certainly not even close to perfection. That’s what we strive for. You know it’s another great team out there, so you’re not going to get it. Our effort is always there. Our execution has been there. Winning a heck of a game.
Q. Game 5 in Chicago last year, how long did that stick with you?
WILLIAMS: Well, winning is tough. Sometimes you have to lose again to get that fire back. Last year stuck with me for a long time. Losing Game 5, we had the Cup, they knocked us out and took it. Obviously that’s on our minds. Knowing that a team got the better of us doesn’t sit well with me.
Q. How has the addition of Gaborik made you a better player?
KOPITAR: I mean, I’ve said it all along now since he’s got here.
WILLIAMS: He’s always been pretty good (laughter).
KOPITAR: Thanks, man. Thank you (smiling). He just gives us a threat that we didn’t have in the past, at least in my seven years here, before he got here as a left shot, left winger. Just like Justin said, he’s a big threat on the power play, he’s the type of player that can burn you within a couple seconds with one move. He’s the guy that I think the other team definitely circles on the board before the game, has to look out for. I think, therefore, maybe I get a couple extra feet on the ice to operate with. Just trying to get him the puck, usually pretty safe bet that he’s going to put it in.
Q: What is the mindset going into Game 5?
JONATHAN QUICK: We are trying to win one game, whether we are up 3-1, down 3-1, 2-2, no matter what the series is, that doesn’t change what we are trying to do the next game.
Q: What are your thoughts on the first line?
QUICK: They have been great all postseason, so that is nothing out of the ordinary. We played a good game and at the end of the day, its 0-0 and trying to win the game.
Q: What has made the team’s offense so successful?
TYLER TOFFOLI: We have just been sticking to our game plan. The first game was not our best game and I think since then we have just been playing hard and doing all the little things right.
Q: What is the difference between this year and last year?
TOFFOLI: We are a new team, they are a new team. They won last year and it is a new year and we are trying to win this year and they are trying to win, so we are playing our game and doing the best we can.
MORE: Post-game comments from Kings coach Darryl Sutter are up here… additional quotes from Kings players, including Marian Gaborik, can be found here… and thoughts from Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and Chicago players were posted here.
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