Following the Kings practice in Chicago on Monday several players were made available to the media. Here’s what Marian Gaborik and Justin Williams had to share…
Q. Talk about joining the Kings and what adjustments you’ve had to make.
GABORIK: Especially coming to a new system, going from playing from the right wing to left wing. But, you know, we had that winning streak we were on. I jumped right into things and that definitely helped to come in and be part of winning games and just kind of took off from there. Playing with Kopy and Willie, definitely that helped with transition and stuff. Kind of took off from there.
Q. Off the ice, what do the guys do to make you feel comfortable?
GABORIK: It was good to start on a trip. I got to know the guys off the ice as well. Very good group, great group of guys. They welcome me very nicely. I was very excited to be part of the team.
Q. Justin, you’ve played a little bit with Marian and Anze. You’ve had a chance to spend some time. What do you see in Marian’s game that maybe makes this Kings’ team a little bit different than last year?
WILLIAMS: I believe, you know, Marian’s skill set speaks for itself on the ice. But fitting in with a hockey team is not just going out there and playing the game. To be part of a team, you want to be part of a team on the ice and off the ice. Marian has fit in quite easily. Looking at his stats, he could be kind of a pompous jerk, but he’s actually a nice guy.
GABORIK: Thank you, buddy.
WILLIAMS: He’s fit in real nice with us. I think that’s why he’s had a lot of success on the ice, as well, because everybody’s taken to him.
Q. Justin, you don’t want to fall behind in a series. Considering the experiences in this playoffs, how comfortable are you with playing from behind?
WILLIAMS: We’re really not proud of those three-game losing streaks, but we’ve been able to overcome them. I mean, the further along you get, the tougher the teams are. To be the best, you got to beat the best. We’re going to obviously not be totally overwhelmed and distraught if we don’t win the next game, but it’s certainly an important game for us, Game 2. Last year we lost the first two here. We don’t anticipate doing the same this year.
Q. When you talk to the players in practices, you get the sense San Jose, St. Louis, these are two established rivalries. This is the second year in a row you’ve met Chicago in the Conference Finals. Is that rivalry being developed, contentious perhaps between the two in?
WILLIAMS: Perhaps. But rivalries only exist when the other team wins. We haven’t beat them yet. We have that set for us. You know, we need to rise to the challenge.
Q. What has been the difference when these two teams meet? I think they’ve won eight of the last nine against you. What is the one little thing you need to do better?
WILLIAMS: Well, certainly I think playoffs and regular season are two different animals obviously. We didn’t have a great record against Anaheim during the regular season. We were able to beat them. I think Chicago just comes with its own problems. Their defense are fast and extremely accurate, do a great job of getting the puck up the ice. If we’re just a little off every game, we’re not going to be good because they’ll expose that. They’ll have guys swinging, guys stretching. If you give them time, they will make you pay. You know, they’re very dynamic. So we need to have every guy on our team playing the same way and playing with the same urgency and being on your toes instead of your heels.
Q. When did you first meet Marian Hossa? Talk about your relationship, even if you have an unofficial wager on this series.
GABORIK: Well, we’re neighbors. I grew up playing with his younger brother. We live in the same hometown, very close to each other. We hang out often during the off-season. We’ve been in touch up to the start of the series. That’s pretty much it. So no interactions now and no bets or whatever.
Q. Justin, you’re a guy that isn’t afraid to camp around the net, engage in some of the battles there. How fine a line is that between obstruction and success? How thin is that line?
WILLIAMS: I think the NHL has put more of a focus on protecting goaltenders, which they should. Whenever you’re near the net, you know, Marian can attest to this, too, there’s always referees yelling at you. If you’re in the blue paint, Get out of it, get out of it. There’s a lot of warnings out there, too. Hey, I might not have counted that goal because you were obstructing him a little bit. You have to watch where you are. You have to watch where your feet are, be aware of your surroundings. You don’t want to be that guy who has the obstructed goal taken back because playoffs every goal and every play is important and has an impact on the series.
Q. Are you satisfied with the consistency of how that is called?
WILLIAMS: I mean, there’s a lot of gray areas in it. But I think for the most part, as hockey players we feel at the end of the day you’re going to get what you deserve. If you deserve to win that game, most likely you’re going to win it. If you don’t, you roll the dice, see what happens. If you play the way you’re capable of, you play the way that you should, and you dictate a game, then you feel like those types of things won’t matter.
Q. At this time of year, there’s not a lot of space on the ice. How has (indiscernible) been able to succeed scoring goals?
WILLIAMS: You might ask him that, but as a spectator watching him, his first three strides to get open are some of the best in the league. You know, a lot of us wish we had those steps. You know, he’s quick and he finds open ice and it doesn’t take him long to get a shot off. If you watch him, he’s quick. Even in practice you watch, you see how quick the shot gets off and how hard it is. That’s something that not a lot of people have. He’s been able to score a lot of goals in the league that way.
Q. Is the Blackhawks defense a bit underrated, do you think?
GABORIK: I don’t think it’s underrated. They get a lot of credit. I think their top four guys, they have their names around the league. They’ve been part of the winning team. That definitely helps them to get recognition around the league. You know, in terms of us playing against them, we had some success in their zone and we want to keep them in their zone as much as possible and create chances there. We had some zone time, but we got to generate more to get to Crawford and to get some goals.
Monday comments from Jeff Carter and Jarret Stoll can be found here. Plus, comments from coach Darryl Sutter were posted here.