Thursday: Brown and Kopitar spend off-day talking about teammates

Brown Dustin Kings NHL SCF playoffsComments from LA Kings forwards Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar during media availability on Thursday afternoon…

Q. You’ve turned over half of your top six forwards. Can both of you speak about what the additions of Gaborik and Carter has meant to this team.

KOPITAR: Well, they’ve obviously stepped up in a big way for us. I think Gabby coming in at the deadline gave us an extra weapon that we needed, didn’t necessarily have in the past.  Usually for a run like this, you need young guys to step up. A couple years ago that was King and Nolan came up, made an impact. This year it was Tyler and Tanner. They’ve been doing a great job for us.

BROWN: Only thing I’ll add, talk about the turnover. I think it’s how this group that’s been here for years and years can bring guys in and implement them in and make them just feel comfortable, allow them to play the game they want to play.  Gabby is probably the best example. We knew what we were getting. It’s just making him comfortable, pushing him in the right direction the way we want to play, then his game takes care of itself.

Q. Some of your teammates earlier and coach were talking about being sluggish. Are you two worried about going to the well and pulling it off like you have done before?

KOPITAR: Last night certainly wasn’t the start we wanted. The first period was sloppy more often than not.  But we’ve done it how many times? We came back and managed to win the game. I think that’s obviously a positive that we did pull it off.  But we can’t put ourselves in a hole against a team like that where they keep coming and they have a lot of firepower that can hurt you pretty quick.
Definitely want to have better starts in a couple days and we’ll see what happens after that.

Q. Dustin, you’ve been around long enough to know there are a number of times in the playoffs where a 2-0 deficit pretty much closes the door for that night. Why do you think team has been able to overcome those kinds of deficits?

BROWN: League wide it’s hard to pick one or two reasons why it’s happening. For our team, it’s just a result of us being together for a long time. I think that goes a longer ways than most people think.  When it gets really hard, really tough, you know the guy next to you very well. You know what he’s going to do in those types of situations. You can rely on each other in ways that a team that is just forming or getting together, you don’t necessarily have that trust built up to weather the storm when you need to.

Q. What is the mindset on the bench during the game when you’ve fallen behind 2-0? Are you looking at each other like, Are you kidding me, this is happening again?

BROWN: We’re very comfortable in any situation we’re in as a group. It’s been said more than enough that enough’s enough. We find ourselves in these holes.  I think we’re comfortable. It’s definitely not where we want to be. I think going back to Game 3 against Chicago, the lead, not only does it give us breathing room in the game, but emotionally, mentally, it gives you a breather. Not that you sit back or relax in a game, but you don’t have that need to dig down deep and find a way to pull out a game again game after game. Again, it goes to our starts.

Q. Los Angeles and New York, two biggest cities in the United States. Hockey is not real popular. How do you feel the series will help sell hockey in the United States?

BROWN: I think having the coast-to-coast, TV markets in the biggest cities, always goes to people getting more interested. I think regardless of the sport, when you have two big cities playing each other, the atmosphere and the excitement, the city-wide pride to beat New York or beat L.A., it definitely magnifies the game of hockey.  I think it’s great for the sport.

Q. Do you ever get a chance to step back and look at the big picture of what you’re doing, two trips to the Finals in three years?

KOPITAR: Right now I don’t think is the time to do that. Everybody is obviously pretty focused on the next game, getting ready for the next game.  But after this season, I’m sure that there will be a time for each and every guy that looks back, reflects on everything that’s been going on the last couple years.

BROWN: I’ll add to that. The only time you look back in the playoffs is after each round. When you advance, you have about 24 hours to think about it. That’s kind of how you do it. You hit the reset button, look at what you just did, then refocus.

Q. A number of the guys on the team talked last night feeling like you were wading through mud for the first period at least. Do you have any advance warning it might be like that? When that happens, how tough is it to get the legs going?

KOPITAR: I think, yeah, each and every guy has a sense of how he’s going to feel that night, that game. I didn’t have the sense that we were going to have a little bit slower legs. It didn’t look in warm-up that way.  Again, it wasn’t the start that we wanted or needed. The guys just really showed the character yet again to battle through no matter what, slow legs, sloppy play, their good start.  In the end of the day, you know what counts is we got the win and now we got to look ahead again.

Q. Dustin, a lot of people are being exposed to Drew Doughty’s personality for the first time. Is he more out there this time around than he was two years ago?

BROWN: I think with Drew, it’s the progression of a player both on the ice and off the ice. I think people first heard about him in the 2010 Olympics. Since then we won. Then Sochi, now we’re back in the Final.  He’s become a much better player than he was four years ago. Like I said, the intangibles. He’s becoming more of a leader both on and off the ice. I think that’s why you see the emotion come out of him.  He’s starting to take on more of a leadership role, which is expected and also good that he’s starting to want to do it.

Q. Anze, last night Wayne Gretzky said you’re the third best player in the world in his eyes behind Crosby and Toews. Do you like that or do you think he under-valued you?

KOPITAR: I’ll take any compliment from that guy. Even if he said I was the fifth in the rankings, I would have taken it.  It’s obviously very nice to hear things about that. I’ve heard it for the first time right now. I didn’t really pay attention to anything after last night.
It’s nice to hear it. Can’t really get caught up in that stuff.

Q. Dustin, teams talk about winning division titles. You don’t have one during this three-year run. It seems like you are far more interested in building yourselves up throughout the course of the year to this point. Do you have a blueprint toward doing that?

BROWN: Not necessarily a blueprint. But I think there’s a mentality that goes, you know, do you want to be a division champion or a Stanley Cup champion. There’s a mentality to that.  The way we play the game, it’s a tough game to play. There’s teams that get far more points than us during the regular season. But when it comes to playoff time, our type of style, our type of game we play, the players that we have, we become a really hard team to beat four times in seven games.  It’s funny. When you look at Staples, we don’t have banners all the way across, but we have the banner we want. We’re in the process or in search of that next banner.

Q. When you have a guy like Gaborik that wants to be in Los Angeles, talk about how that helps.

KOPITAR: I think he fit really well. You know, just like Brownie said before, we have a room where there’s a lot of character, a lot of good leaders.  For Gabby to come in our room, I think he felt comfortable pretty quick. That’s obviously a big thing and a big reason why he’s feeling comfortable on the ice, too. He’d be probably the best guy to ask obviously why is that.  But I just think this group is so close together, it doesn’t matter if that’s a deadline deal or a new guy coming in right off the start, you know, it seems like the transition, we make it a little bit easier on the guys for that transition.

Q. Carter was talking about Justin Williams flipping the switch. Talk about that.

BROWN: I’ve been playing with Justin for the last amount of years. He’s very laid back and focused at the same time. It’s kind of hard to describe.  I mean, he’s been known obviously to play big in big games. I think it just comes down to his focus, having that even keel. He’s one of the looser guys on our team before the game. You can see a buildup as we approach game time. He gets more and more focused, more serious.  Like I said, he’s a big game player.

Q. Gaborik said the biggest thing for him to join a team that won the Cup was he needed to feel good off the ice. He said when he joined you in Canada, you took him around. Explain for this team how important it is and what is the makeup about this team off the ice that carries onto the ice?

BROWN: I think it’s cliché, but you talk about teams that are close off the ice. Part of it’s we’ve been together for years. I can’t remember what year it was, but we traded for Stolly and Greener. Since then, there’s five, six, seven of us that have been together. We’ve kind of added to that each year.  It was probably right before we made the playoffs, we had everybody come out and work out before the playoffs. That’s voluntarily coming out.  We’re close off the ice. Probably a lot of people say that. I think it’s an extension of that. When you have a group of guys that get along really, really well, you get a guy like Gaborik coming in, it’s easy to just mesh him into the group because there’s no group of players over there. There’s none of that on our team.  On the road we have a lot of time. You’re not hanging out with the same two, three guys every time. There are no cliques on our team. When a new guy comes in, he doesn’t have to go hang out with those guys or these guys.

Q. Dustin, was it that way when you first came? Was the different when you first came here?

BROWN: When I first came here, it was very different, partly because the league was different. We had an older team when I first came in. Just how it played out, like the turnover was extreme each and every year. If you look at our rosters from my first year, I think Armstrong, I can’t remember the last year he played here, but that was probably the last remaining teammate from my first year.  Turning over every year, it’s hard to get to know guys on that type of level that you need. I’ve said this before. This core group sticks together for hundreds of games in many years.

Q. Anze, a non-hockey question. You’re wearing the Jay’s hat? Are you a fan?

KOPITAR: Yeah, I snagged it from Drew Doughty.

Q. Do you watch baseball?

KOPITAR: I like to watch baseball once in a while. I’m not going to watch all the games, all 162. But, yeah, I’ll sit down and watch it, just relax.

Q. It’s been a while since you’ve seen the Rangers. What did you learn from last night’s game that maybe you didn’t know or stressed the point what you need to adjust?

BROWN: Their best chances came off of their speed. We need to find a way, much like we did against Chicago, in a similar way, Saad in particular gave us trouble in Chicago, he’s fast. It’s about getting in their way, also managing the puck a lot better than we did.
I think that can eliminate some of the threat of their speed. They’re still going to have pockets and space to do it throughout the game. But where we can limit them is through the neutral zone, forcing them to dump the puck in more.

Q. On this whole idea of pulling games out. A lot of teams get down, they’re dependent on two or three players to pull games out. With you guys, it seems like it’s somebody different every single night. What is it about the personality of this team that allows everyone to have the potential to be that hero on a given night?

KOPITAR: Well, I think just the depth we obviously have is what you’re talking about. I think just believe that anybody can do it. It’s not like when we get down, everybody looks at, I don’t know, Carts to go do it. It’s everybody taking pride, chipping in, helping each other out.  We have always played best hockey when you push and pull guys together. That’s what it is, and that’s what we’ve been doing so far.

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