Comments from LA Kings players Anze Kopitar, Willie Mitchell, and Justin Williams upon landing in Chicago on Saturday afternoon…
Q. (No microphone.)
WILLIAMS: Yes. And I’ll take it. If we have to play 28 games this year to win, that’s what we have to do. We’re using all our lifelines so far. We plan on getting the job done yet again.
Q. Darryl was talking about the calm that overtakes this team in Game 7. What are your observations of this team in those moments?
WILLIAMS: I think most guys on our team treat Game 7s as an opportunity, an opportunity to do something special, an opportunity to prove yourself, an opportunity to advance and get the better of a team that you battled with for six games. It’s going to be no different tomorrow. We obviously have a huge bone to pick with them. We’re going to leave it all out there because there’s no more after that.
Q. Anze, what has it been like in the faceoff circles in this whole series? Talk about the challenge of winning faceoffs every game, how important it is.
KOPITAR: I think it’s very important for me personally. I think for these guys, the other 20 guys, you want to start with the puck than chase it. Especially a team like Chicago, they have some really good faceoff guys. Most of the time it’s everybody helping out, everybody coming in there, trying to dig out the pucks. The other times it’s just winning them clean. But, yeah, I think it’s a big thing. Now, the last couple years, in the power plays you start off in the offensive zone, and if you can win that right from the get-go, it’s a big opportunity to get something going. Conversely in the defensive zone when you’re on the kill, you win a faceoff, you feel like you killed the momentum at least a little bit.
Q. Do you enjoy that part of your job?
KOPITAR: Yeah. What’s not to enjoy about any part of a hockey game really?
Q. On Justin Williams in Game 7s.
MITCHELL: I don’t know. He’s just a big game player. He’s had success on occasions before. I think players that have success in those occasions are comfortable in it. We’re glad to have him. He can speak to that himself, I’m sure.
Q. Justin, are you tired of this question? This is the third time we’re asking you in this playoff run. Do you enjoy answering these questions?
WILLIAMS: I reiterated quite a few times. I’m proud of my individual status. But the one I’m most proud is the six-and-0 of Game 7s. I’m going to do everything in my power to make it seven. We’ve had a lot of guys with success in Game 7s, it’s not just me. It’s very humbling, I guess, that everyone seems to want an interview on a Game 7. At the end of the day, I feel if I didn’t get the point, someone else on our team would have and we would win those games regardless.
Q. What has the Kane line been doing differently the last two games?
WILLIAMS: I’m not going to be here and toot his horn so much. He’s an enemy right now. He’s had a huge impact the last two games, how they ended. Let’s hope that’s not the case tomorrow. There’s no secret on how you play him, I think. You try to limit his space. I’ll let Mitchy go into a little more detail on what we try to do, the defensemen.
MITCHELL: No, he’s a great player. We all know that. He plays well in great games. As a group, we have to collectively to do a heck of a job against him.
We did that in Game 1 through 4. I think the last couple games as a group we gave him some life. We need to do the same things we did in the first games, not the last two. When he has the puck, give him the least amount of time as possible because he’s a very creative player. He creates things not only for himself but for others to do that. We’ll look to do that.
Q. Is the confidence high that you are going to do that?
MITCHELL: Well, we’ve done it three games out of six so far. So, yeah, absolutely. I think as a team that’s what you look for is big games, defining moments, define games to get yourself to play for the ultimate prize. That’s what we’re looking to do as a group. I think over the course I’ve been here, we’ve been able to do that: rise to the challenge at the right times. Pretty confident about that. Really look forward to the challenge tomorrow.
Q. Hawks have said since they were down 3-1, all the pressure is on the Kings. Is there more pressure on you guys?
KOPITAR: I think I’d rather be playing with the lead than chasing it. You know, now it’s Game 7. We’re coming into a rink that is pretty loud. We really have nothing to lose. We’re going to go out, we’re going to play hard, throw everything on the line. At the end of the day we think, and we’re confident enough, that if we do that, if we do play our game, we think we have a very good chance of winning.
Q. When you’re in those games, do you even get a chance to recognize the kind of hockey that’s being played, especially the last two games? Have you had a chance to appreciate the level of play from both teams in this series?
MITCHELL: You’re so focused and so engaged in what you’re doing personally. You’re worrying about all the right things you got to do. Last night at the Staples Center, it was a TV timeout, I think it would be pretty hard for anyone in the building, player, fan, referee, anyone not to feel the energy in the building, the type of energy, the type of hockey that was being played. Yeah, it’s fun to be part of that. The big roar you’re looking for is the ultimate at the end of it, and that’s what we’re going to look to do.
Q. Blackhawks have had a lot of success down low, shots off skates, deflections, tip-ins. How much does that have to do with them tactically doing something different or does it come down to experience and skill mostly?
MITCHELL: You know, they’re a good offensive team. Everyone knows that. They got three lines that can put the puck in the back of the net. To beat the Chicago Blackhawks, you have to defend. That’s what we’ll look to do tomorrow.
Q. I asked Darryl if any of the Hawks surprised you. Anybody that you didn’t expect to play the way he’s playing, took you by surprise a little bit? Saad?
KOPITAR: No, I don’t think so. He’s been with the team the last couple years, and he’s been playing good for them. I wouldn’t say he took us by surprise. Just means we have to do a better job of limiting his time and space on the ice.
Q. The motivation factor at this point, probably nothing needs to be said to you to be ready to go. How important is that for a team to have a bunch of guys that are self-driven?
WILLIAMS: Being self-driven is how we got here. We’re successful hockey players because we’ve been able to rise to the challenge not occasionally, but we’ve been able to rise to the challenge every time it’s come towards us. Right now we’re just forgetting all this other junk that’s going on. We’re in Game 7. The best team’s going to win tomorrow, and that’s that. We’re going to make sure it’s us.
Q. Two series back-to-back where you clawed back, you had to block everything out and keep climbing. Is that where you’re most successful?
MITCHELL: I think Game 7 is what hockey is all about. As a hockey player, that’s the game you want to play, is Game 7 with everything on the line. It’s kind of the essence of the game. You know, we’ve had some success in that and we look to continue that. We feel if we do the things we’re capable of doing, the style of play we need against the Blackhawks, we’re going to get the result we want.
Q. Your coach refers to your goaltender as the best in the world. At least he has in the past. Have we seen his best game yet in this series?
WILLIAMS: Probably have to ask Jonathan Quick. He’s the furthest thing from any problem that we’re ever going to have or we ever will have right now, that’s for sure.
Q. What did you think about the Crawford-Quick moment?
WILLIAMS: You have to ask him. I love spunk and fire within a goalie. You have a guy back there who is by himself most of the game. I love seeing that from a goalie. I love seeing it from anybody.