Comments from LA Kings players Jarret Stoll, Justin Williams, Willie Mitchell, and Mike Richards after the team’s practice on Sunday…
Q. Do you feel that you have gained momentum
STOLL: Every game is its own little deal. You have to try to come out and play well and win. You see little things going on in the series now that hopefully we can keep pushing and pulling the right way. We want to frustrate them. We want to be in their face smart. Still taking too many penalties for our liking. Try to get those down. It’s no secret when you got a lead on a team in a series, you want to keep pushing. We all know what can happen with momentum, especially in this playoffs.
Q. You were brought over at the beginning of the rebuilding process. From then to now, was it a steady rise in the structure of the identity and culture?
STOLL: I think making the playoffs is the first step. They had a great core here. A lot of those guys are still here. Great draft picks, building through the draft. It’s not easy to make the playoffs. We know that now. It’s a long season, a long grind. Those first two seasons that we lost in the first round, we lost to Vancouver I think and we lost to San Jose. I think we learned a lot in those series. We were close. The one round against San Jose we didn’t have Kopy. I think we learned a lot in those two seasons. In ’12, everything went our way, bounces, the play, our goaltender, everything was kind of on our side. Sometimes you learn quick, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes it takes a little while. I think it was a little bit of both with this team. Just great trades, great little additions here and there. Once you get a taste of winning a playoff series, winning a couple, winning a championship, it’s not underrated how hard it is, everyone knows it’s hard, but the things you can learn from those runs is endless what you can learn from different series, winning a championship.
Q. Does the style of play change as the series goes on?
STOLL: No, no, I don’t think so. We looked at film already this morning on some things we got to do better, especially in the first period, the way they came at us. No, you got to play whatever style of game is your game. They have their style. They’re going to for sure try to come out and play that way in Game 4. We have to limit our mistakes and manage the puck, do all those things, be disciplined, be aggressive, be on our toes, which I thought we were more so as the second and third periods went on. Therefore we got some goals and the lead and got the win.
Q. Four penalties on your side and three on their side is not excessive. What is the optimum number? Difficult line to walk.
STOLL: You have to be on that edge. Probably two or three is the number. The type of penalties, too, you got to look at that. Too many men. High sticks. Stuff like that, we can’t be taking. We know that. Yeah, maybe it’s not many. But it’s the types of penalties, maybe the time of the game. Yeah, the way we want to play, we want to play physical, heavy and hard, on the edge. Just walk that line, I guess.
Q. Talk about your penalty killing and how good you are.
STOLL: Yeah, we’re getting back to a little bit of being confident with each other, doing those little things, what it takes to kill one off at important times. Even go through a penalty kill where we’re not giving up any shots, which is key, up-ice pressure, reading off our defensemen, our defensemen reading off our forwards, getting some shot blocks and big saves. You need saves. It all works together to kill a penalty. It’s hard work. It’s using your head out there. Yeah, we had some big kills the past couple of games. We got to continue to do that. It can win you a series. It can lose you a series. I think we’ve picked it up and we’ve been better. We’re going to need that.
Q. How much of a luxury is it to be able to spread out the ice time amongst the forwards?
STOLL: It’s very important, I think. For a while now we just can roll four lines. I think all four lines can play against any line really. I know Darryl probably feels that way as well. There’s been a lot of games where our four lines have been around 15, 17 minutes. Your pace of play has to be high. It should be. That’s how we want to play. We don’t want to have dips in our play. We want to keep our play high, the speed of the game. Once that third period comes, when it’s tough hockey in the third period, we still got some gas, some jump to play the way we want to play.
Q. Darryl doesn’t want to play a matchup game. Tactically does that help you guys not having to shift?
STOLL: Yeah, that could be difficult. Darryl, since he’s been here, he’s not that kind of a tight, tight matchup guy. He trusts his players to play against anybody. He demands it. I think as a player you want that. You want to have that on your shoulders, to know you can play against anybody and do the job. We know we can.
Q. On the penalty kill, when you know a team is struggling, does it allow you to do different things, take advantage of a team that maybe is pressing?
STOLL: You don’t want to think about them too much. You want to do whatever is within your penalty killing unit to do, be aggressive – maybe even more aggressive in that situation, if their confidence isn’t that high in the power play. Be smart, too, because they have dangerous players with a lot of skill. You don’t want to be overaggressive because it opens other things up. Probably a little bit of both. We have to be smart, keep our confidence high on the kill, other parts of the game as well.
Q. With the momentum you have, do you feel you’ll be in good shape if you continue to play like you have been?
STOLL: You can always be a little better with managing the puck, penalties. I think we need a better start in Game 4 than we had in Game 3. Yeah, just that aggressive style, in their face, trying to frustrate them, try to let them know it will be a tough game. If we start with the puck, they’re going to have to come through us 200 feet to beat us. Have that attitude and mindset. Yeah, we feel good about our game. We know we can do better in Game 4. We know we can bring it. In front of our home crowd, we got to take advantage of this opportunity.
WILLIAMS: I suppose. The next game is always the most important game. That’s the best I can explain it.
Q. How are you working on being more aggressive from the get-go?
MITCHELL: Yeah, I don’t know. I take it all the way back to 2012, we had a lot of adversity as a hockey club. Got our coach fired. We weren’t playing good hockey, weren’t scoring a ton of goals. A combination of a bunch of things. Team finding some urgency to get in the playoffs, Darryl coming in, having some success. I think going through that adversity, coming out the other end a champion, when you start to push up into those tough areas, you have a quiet sense of confidence within your group. We’ve always done that, almost to a fault. That’s put us in bad situations in this series where we’ve been down and had to claw back. We always seem to be a team that plays well the bigger the game is, when more is on the line. Against a good hockey club like Chicago, we have to kind of find that sense earlier on because a good team like that will put you away in a hurry.
Q. When you first joined the organization, was there a different level of confidence to win than there is now?
WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, that’s a pretty simple answer. It was a non-playoff team trying to find their way and trying to rebuild. Now we’ve built ourselves into a team that we want to have the respect of everyone in the NHL. Throughout the past couple years we’ve done that, we’ve earned that. We want to continue to do so.
Q. What did Darryl fundamentally change?
RICHARDS: It goes back to the confidence thing. When you have confidence, it just seems like the net gets bigger. When you don’t have confidence, it seems like it shrinks a little bit. He steps up big-time. He’s a big goal-scorer. That whole line has created a lot for the momentum of our hockey team throughout games. It seems whenever the team starts to create momentum or have momentum, they step up in a big way. With those three, they don’t need much room. They just seem to find the areas. They’re all natural goal-scorers. Especially Jeff is just a natural goal-scorer. He doesn’t need much room or many chances to capitalize.
Q. Is it important to be able to roll four lines
RICHARDS: No. Everyone has injuries in playoffs. It’s just a matter of playing the cards that you’re dealt. You can’t use it as an excuse. Last year is last year. This year we’re focusing on things that we can control. We’ve had some injuries. They’ve had some injuries. We’re just playing hockey at this point.
Q. You guys have fallen behind in all three games