Comments from Kings coach Darry Sutter upon landing in Chicago on Saturday afternoon…
Q. There’s an old adage in sports that good defense usually beats good offense. Why has that not been the case in this series?
SUTTER: I think there’s more goals in this series than normally expected. Hasn’t been a whole lot of power plays. Big guys, Toews and Kopitar, are pretty well matched up against each other. They’ve both been held down. So I guess you’d have to go into the second layer, the defensemen are part of it, the next group of top players. That would be my take on it.
Q. Safe to say you would rather go back to defense tomorrow?
SUTTER: You say defense. It’s an old adage. This league is not about defense, it’s about good checking and not turning the puck over. Teams that just play defense, they’ve been on the outside looking in on Apr 15. If you just take last night, goals were scored, goals in the third period, one was a power play goal, Drew’s goal, good offensive zone play, and Kane’s goal off the wall, that’s miss coverage on a defenseman. Duncan Keith’s goal was missed coverage. So little areas of a better player taking advantage of a lesser player.
Q. Does Game 7 place more pressure
SUTTER: I don’t think it’s Game 7. I’ve seen it situationally, guys that play a lot, have points in games, where you have to have somebody else out there because he can’t. You can see it where he needs another line or centerman. Drew or somebody needs another shift. I don’t think it’s affected Drew that much. I think it’s affected some of the younger defensemen.
Q. Is that one of the tougher things about the coaching matchup that we don’t see, is you have to gauge who is tired, who is not?
SUTTER: Yes. It definitely comes into play as the game goes on or as the series goes on, for sure.
Q. You would probably have to anticipate this would happen, Where is Patrick Kane?
SUTTER: Everybody was saying it just because he didn’t have a point. He was still very effective. Every time he was on the ice, somebody would say, Cover Kane, or, He’s behind you. That’s who they’re talking about. Just because he doesn’t have a point… That’s drifted into our game, where if you don’t get a point, Oh, gee, he’s really struggling, which isn’t the case. Last two games he has a more than normal night. He doesn’t have four points every night, otherwise he’d have the scoring won by Christmas. He has four one night, gets highlighted. If he had nothing last night, then it would have been the same question again. I’m not interested in talking about Patrick Kane. Patrick Kane is going to get his points tomorrow night, too. I’d be more interested in some of our players that are supposed to be close to Patrick Kane, why they haven’t got anything in this series.
Q. There’s talk all the pressure is on the Kings. Game 7, same amount of pressure?
SUTTER: Well, there really was a lot of talk about that. To be quite honest, that was a bunch of BS.
Q. They actually admitted that, too.
SUTTER: I think both of us have been in it long enough to know singing that little song doesn’t work.
Q. In a series like this, seventh game, are there still adjustments to be made or at this point you know what each team is going to do?
SUTTER: You do know, but I still think there are adjustments during the game based on how the guys are playing. If I look at the six games, I can give you almost shift to shift how I see how it played out and I could tell you the games we should have won, the games we should have lost, the games they should have won, the games they should have lost. It probably should be 3-3. Doesn’t mean one or two games they won couldn’t have been the other way. Are there little adjustments? Sure. There are guys on teams that teams want to play better or play less. Take the last two games, if you go to the morning skate or if you go to the warmups, you’ll say, Well, he’s playing with him, he’s playing with him. But three shifts in he’s not ’cause he’s not playing well enough to play there or the matchup changed a little bit.
Q. What does the universal success you guys have had in Game 7s mean for this Game 7?
SUTTER: I just think what it does, it can take you away from the anxiety. I don’t look even look at it like it’s Game 7. I look at it we have to do everything we can do to beat Chicago, just like last night, just like the night before. Somebody from outside is not going to decide how we play or any of that. We’ll just stay focused on what we can control and play the game.
Q. I know it had no bearing on the outcome of the game at all, with Jonathan getting into it with Corey, do you have any comment on what that may or may not do for him?
SUTTER: I don’t think it may or may not do anything for him. I don’t think it had any impact on anything. I think he was coming over because at the end of the period he’d been shoved around a little bit. Made a point of it. Most of the goals last night, guys are standing in front of the goalie. Somebody shot the puck. Somebody said, Oh, that was a great shot. But the goalies didn’t have much chance to stop it because there was other players involved.
Q. How do you assess the play of your second and third tier defensemen? Is Regehr a possibility?
SUTTER: Robyn is doubtful. He’s been skating for a week. He’s been out for a month, so… He hasn’t had contact, per se. He would not be available.
I think there are two other pairs that are, for the most part, playing as well as they can.
Q. Have there been any players from the Blackhawks that have surprised you?
SUTTER: No, because they’re the Stanley Cup champions. That does not surprise us. I mean, they have great depth right through their lineup. Clearly we’ve seen that the last two games where that’s been better than ours, even though, again, it’s been highlighted one or two guys. For sure, the depth to their lineup has stepped up, kept their nose ahead of ours.
Q. A lot is made of their talent, especially among their forwards. Is there any part of their game that goes under the radar that the average fan might not be aware of?
SUTTER: I think what’s happened, and it’s happened in this series, is you get asked about matchups, and you have to remember there’s five people on the ice at once, not just three. So it’s not just a line matchup, it’s a defenseman matchup. When you look at their defensemen, that’s a perfect group. There’s a good reason why they won the Stanley Cup two of the last three years, why they’re in the Conference Finals again. They don’t get enough credit. Duncan Keith gets a lot of credit, as he should. Probably win the Norris. But it’s a pretty good group right there. If you have them six, they’re going to pull the wagon all the way from Peoria to here.
Q. Have you had a chance to appreciate the hockey that’s been played in the first six games?
SUTTER: Yeah, for sure. I think Game 1 was a little bit feel-out. Game 4, I thought both teams looked like they were tired a little bit. But other than that it’s been great hockey.
Q. Quick is capable of taking over a game like this. Is he one of those guys that you see that come in, no matter if he treats Game 7 like it’s any other game?
SUTTER: At the end of the day big saves and bad goals are the difference in the series. That’s how the series will be judged when it’s over. For me to break it down now, I wouldn’t do that. But at the end of tomorrow night when it’s all said and done, you’re going to evaluate goaltenders. Everybody is going to say who the best goalie was in the series.
Q. Both these teams have been able to accomplish things that are rare in the NHL. You don’t see teams coming back from deficits. He said it was basically the competitiveness of his team, Joel did.
SUTTER: I would say it’s the very same, yeah. You don’t get to this point by not having competitive players, strong leaders, guys that know what it takes, guys that are going to put their foot down when they have to. It’s pretty straightforward. Both teams have had some success. At the end of the day we want to beat the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow because we want to move on. That’s what our goal is. That’s all we think about.
Q. Ever coached a team that didn’t have that kind of inner drive, that you had to motivate them?
SUTTER: I think at the end of the day self-motivation is the key to all good players’ success and ability to play in big games, as Kopy and Willie will for sure tell you (laughter).
MORE: For comments from Justin Williams, Anze Kopitar, and Willie Mitchell, click here.