Jonathan Quick and Mike Richards usually aren’t two of the most talkative guys on the Kings team, preferring to let their actions on the ice provide the necessary commentary. However, upon landing in Chicago late Tuesday, both players had quite a bit to offer up…
Q. What is the biggest difference between last year’s series and this year?
RICHARDS: I think we’re a little bit healthier, minus Robyn being out. Guys were a little bit beat up last year. Other than that, we’re getting bounces and capitalizing on our power plays, which is big, creating momentum. When you get to this point in the season, I think it’s so close, it’s a bounce here or there, scoring a goal at a different time of the game to create momentum. Last year I thought they were getting the bounces and scoring goals at that time. This year I think we’re benefitting from doing that.
Q. Where is the confidence right now?
RICHARDS: We’re confident, as are they, I’m assuming. It’s so close, like I said, at this point of the season. I think we’re understanding the need to win. We’re getting some goals, I guess, at good times. But it seems like everybody’s playing as well as they can right now. It’s nothing special. It’s not pretty. But it’s four lines and six ‘D,’ and Johnny is playing well, too. It’s everybody playing, knowing their role. Just taking it one game at a time like we started pretty much from the San Jose series where we were forced to.
Q. Having gone through this for several years now, how much does that help you going through the routine?
QUICK: Obviously it helps everyone that’s been with us for the past few years as far as preparation, what to expect, the atmosphere, the intensity of the game. But, you know, we’re playing a team that’s had the same experiences, and maybe even more. So that’s kind of even as far as between the two teams.
Q. Mike, I wanted to ask about Kopy. The way that he plays, how impressed are you with that? How hard is it to play like that?
RICHARDS: To play like Kopy, there’s maybe two, three guys in the world that can. I’d say pretty hard. But just it seems like every time he’s on the ice he calms everything down, whether it’s just a point in the game where it’s hectic out there, we’re running around. He steps on the ice, he seems to have that calming influence on everybody, just the way he plays. He’s a big, strong guy. He has skill. He’s really got it all. Then you put the emphasis that he does on playing on the defensive side of the puck, that really makes a special player. What he can do on the ice, take over games…
A couple games ago where Johnny had his game, played really well, Kopy was right there with him, too. He can elevate. It’s really fun to watch those two go at it against each other. To see the skill level that he has… I think Darryl has helped him a lot, putting a little more emphasis on that defensive side. If he played in the Eastern Conference on a team that didn’t stress defense as much as us, he could easily be a 100-point guy. He sacrifices that to be a two-way player and play on both sides of the puck. We see it every day, so we kind of get spoiled. But I think a couple years ago when we won the Cup, it was kind of his coming out party, and everybody now realizes how good he is.
Q. (Question regarding faceoffs.)
QUICK: Yeah, it takes 15, 20 seconds off the clock. It’s a little bit easier to kill 1 minute 40 than 2 minutes. It’s very important. Obviously if we’re able to get whistles throughout the PK, get another clear, that’s another 15, 20 seconds. It goes a long way into trying to get those kills throughout a game. Obviously it’s something that guys have been doing pretty well lately.
Q. Jonathan, at this time of year, is it the mental or physical part that’s more difficult?
QUICK: It’s tough to pick one or the other. They’re both demanding. We’re eight months into this thing now, right? We started in September. So physically, obviously it takes a toll on you. Mentally preparing for game after game, it takes a toll on you. But we talked about it earlier, it’s something that we’ve done a few times the past few years, making deep playoff runs. You know what to expect, how to prepare now. It’s just kind of going out there and doing it.
Q. Jonathan, are you surprised that your teammates are getting the net presence that they’re getting, the lack of resistance they’re getting to get in that position once they’re there? How hard is it to have the goaltender see through big bodies when you’re not getting support from the teammates?
QUICK: Are you referring to our forwards in front of their net? It’s 200 feet away, so…
Q. How hard is that on you if you have that one body or two bodies in front of you at all times and no one is there to help clear them out?
QUICK: Are you trying to get me to talk about their ‘D’ not clearing out our forwards (laughter)?
Q. Are you surprised you’re not seeing them trying to move them?
QUICK: They got some great defensemen there obviously. The six guys they put out regularly probably could compete with any six guys in the league. I’m not going to be quick to say something bad about them.
Q. What adjustments have you had to make playing in the Western Conference?
RICHARDS: I think it’s a little bit tighter defense maybe in the Western Conference. Eastern Conference I think is more open, more rush attacks, whereas in the Western Conference it’s a lot of in-zone play. You have to generate your offense from that. It’s hard to say now because we don’t play the Eastern Conference teams as much, but that’s how I felt a couple years ago when I first came over.
Q. (Question regarding when the opposing team wins faceoffs, the willingness to get stoppages.)
QUICK: It’s kind of all situational. I feel if we’re running around a little bit, obviously I’ll try a little more to get a whistle. Or if it’s a situation where they’re just kind of dumping it in, we got guys back, you’d rather play it. But at the end of the day when you’re in your own end, you’re trying to get whistles. I don’t think that changes with the faceoff percentages or anything like that. In your own end, you’d always want to slow it down if you can, yeah.
Q. Jonathan, you were talking yesterday about going from the Sharks to the Ducks to the Blackhawks. They’re all high-scoring teams. Has that helped you, because there’s that familiarity?
QUICK: You see these guys all year. There’s a lot of teams in our division, in our conference, that we play that are really skilled offensively. So I don’t know if it helped as far as preparation. Obviously Chicago has tons of skill up and down their lineup. They got guys that score from the back end. Obviously their forwards are as good as they are. But I think the question yesterday was referring to trying to handle them. I just kind of made a comment that Anaheim was one of the top-scoring teams, San Jose is one of the top-scoring teams every year. We play these teams a lot. You get used to playing these teams. It doesn’t take anything away from any of the guys we play. You’re used to playing these teams.
Q. (Question regarding Drew Doughty.)
QUICK: It’s tough to say just ’cause it’s like Mike said earlier with Kopy, you see him every day, so you get spoiled. It’s not a situation where you see a jump. Every day he’s a little better, just watching him go through it. For us, it’s just Dewey and that’s how he plays. He’s that good for a reason. Maybe somebody that doesn’t watch the Kings play too much, they catch a game, they see him, you really notice him.
Q. Everybody talks about experience being key in the post-season. The young guys on your team, how does that speak to your team’s leadership on or off the ice?
RICHARDS: I think it just speaks volumes of kind of how the Kings bring people up. Ever since I’ve been here, the whole word was you had to go to the minors, put in your time there. Dean doesn’t rush people into the NHL. I think it’s nice for people to get their experience down there and then come up here. We have a great group of guys here, and I think it’s comforting for people to come into the locker room. I know when I came here, they accepted me right away. I think it’s kind of similar for them, too. Tyler got a little bit last year in the playoffs, and then Tanner this year stepped up in a big way, too. They’re just going out and playing. They’re not putting too much pressure on themselves. Jeff has been good talking to them, helping them along. I think their mentality is to just go out and play. I think right now it’s working for them and it’s a good mentality to have at this point in the season.
Q. (Question regarding Dean Lombardi.)
RICHARDS: I think for him, he’s happy for us. I think that’s the kind of general manager that he is. He thinks a general manager is only as good as his players. He wants us to feel good about how we’re playing. I would never think that he would put the success on himself even though he’s had a lot to do with the organization over the past five, six, seven years.
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