Question: how is it out there, is it practice or just skating?
TODD MCLELLAN: I think we had three objectives. One was to come and experience the facility and not just on the ice. Our players wander around, they were up in the stands, they were all over the place, and that’s what they should do. They should get to know what it’s like to be in this building and feel it. So we got that.
Number two, we needed to skate because we played last night and got home about 2:30 in the morning from Dallas, so we need to skate and get our legs going. It wasn’t an aggressive sort of practice, it was just to get moving again. The third thing was obviously to figure out the conditions, ice, boards, glass, bounces, you know, spatial awareness, even the sound. Talked to the goaltenders about the communication, and it was a little harder to hear without 70,000 people here. So I think we got those three things done.
Q. Along those lines of spatial awareness and the boards and everything else, were there kind of adjustments that might need to come into play in this setting?
MCLELLAN: Well, I think the players on both teams are going to be extra excited, and both teams are going to have to deal with that. They’re in the starting gate. It’s like horses in the starting gate. They want to go. We still have to play a very structured game. We have to be smart and positional. You can’t just like let energy and passion take over. So there is a little bit of an adjustment there. Environmentwise, we don’t know what it’s going to be like at night and the lighting, so warmup’s going to be important for us in that situation.
Niemi who will be our starting goaltender will have to get used to the puck in that situation. I think the puck will bounce around a little bit more. The ice is very good right now. The NHL has done a very good job in my opinion to this point with the ice, but pucks still bounce around the boards aren’t what we’re accustomed to. I think stopping on loose pucks rather than skating by them is going to be really important tomorrow as well.
Q. Were they lively boards?
MCLELLAN: Just the stanchions on the glass are a little bit different. It will take a while to get used to them. It really will.
Q. Lot of times in a situation like this you want to try to keep it simple and not get too fancy. Do you think that’s part of what will happen out here?
MCLELLAN: I was barking a lot in practice for guys to shoot the puck. Today they want to make nice plays and there aren’t any consequences for erring in those situations. But shooting the puck a lot and avoiding the cute, pretty play. If it’s there, make it. If it’s not, let’s play that game that you described and take our chances that way.
Q. One last thing, the time of the practice, a few of us are curious why. Is it it’s closer to actual game conditions, little darker, cooler?
MCLELLAN: There are two teams. We had an option of choosing the earlier or the late. Because we came home at 2:30 last night, we wanted the earlier one. We wanted to get here and then guys can get home, eat, spend some time with their families and then come back ready to play tomorrow. Was it the right decision or not? I don’t know. But we sure enjoyed the day today.
Q. Is the team talking about how important the two points are and how huge the game is? What is the balance that you have to strike because this could be a onceinalifetime thing versus the importance of the game, how do you do that?
MCLELLAN: I think the preparation for the game for us will be as much familiar as possible. The meeting, the game points that we think are necessary and we have to stress will be very similar. Tomorrow’s going to be a much different day than today. Today was a celebration really when you think about it. Tomorrow the focus will come back for both teams, not just for us. And when the puck drops you know they’re wearing black, white and silver, and we have the teal and our colors on, and we’re going to battle. It’s what the two teams always do, and the players are intelligent people.
They know where we’re at in the standings, and they know how few games are left in the season. I don’t know if I’m correct in saying this is the latest outdoor game. I don’t know if it is or not. But we only have 22 games left, so it’s an important night for us.
Q. How important was it winning last night and getting some momentum heading into tomorrow night’s game?
MCLELLAN: It’s important to win every night, but you’re asking that question because we haven’t won enough lately. Last night’s effort was a good effort for us. I think it made us feel better today, which we needed as a team, but tomorrow it starts all over again. Momentum’s reestablished night after night. It just made today better.
When we woke up in the morning, we felt a little better about ourselves, and we could enjoy the day without a loss on our minds. And right now, that’s important for us.
Q. Why has this year gone the way it has for you. What do you want to see down the stretch, and does this game have any relevance to that at all?
MCLELLAN: I think this game is its own monster, if you will. It’s its own game. We’re going to play hard. They’re going to play hard. We’re going to be happy or unhappy with the results and then we’re going to move on. But we’re all going to take good memories from this game, and we’re going to bank them and move on.
So I think this game is a little bit different than the remaining 21 games. The points are still equal. As far as our year goes, where our year started after we lost game 7, it didn’t just start in game 1. It started with a number of decisions we made as an organization. It started with getting younger and incorporating younger players into the lineup.
Right now I think we’re trying to define, and I’ve said this a number of times over the last week, we’re trying to define and clarify expectations. We can’t give ourselves permission to be average. We’re better than average and we have to play that way.
Q. I was wondering how is your way of preparing your team for this game different?
MCLELLAN: Our group, what’s different about this is the emotion that’s in the game. That doesn’t mean we don’t play every night with a lot of emotion, but there is a different feel to it. The environment is completely different, the leadup, the buildup, the talk, the epix show. It all culminates tomorrow with 70,000 people coming up to watch us.
Our players are very accustomed to playing in front of big crowds but never that big. I think that’s an exciting thing for our team and we’ve got to deal with that. We’ll play hard and we’ll enjoy it.
To see what Darryl Sutter had to say after the Kings practiced outdoors tonight, see here.
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