I caught up with Dean Lombardi at practice today, to get his thoughts on what happened to the Kings last night in Detroit…
Question: Was there a lack of killer instinct last night? It seemed like, going into the second period, you could have put them away, but it went completely the other way…
LOMBARDI: “Near the end of the first period, we started losing territory. We stopped making plays, stopped moving our feet. Then at the beginning of the second period, I think we went 10 minutes without a shot. Then they score two goals, and all of a sudden we get (mad) and get four quality chances. But that’s the point. When you talk about the mental side of building a team, it’s the same old story. You have to respect your opponent, but you can’t fear them. Yeah, they’re still the Red Wings, and they’re a hell of a team, but we’ve got to get over that mental block and start believing in ourselves. I thought we looked up and it’s 1-0 and, `Holy smoke, we’re playing with them,’ and then – like last year – there was a little bit of waiting for something bad to happen. And it did.’’
Question: Whose responsibility is it to change that?
LOMBARDI: “It’s collectively. I’ve seen it with young players, like Toews in Chicago. I’ve seen some of the young ones start to learn it. Kopi was trying, Jack (Johnson) was trying to win. I saw some things there from the young players. Then obviously, that’s where guys like Ryan (Smyth) and (Justin) Williams, who have been to the Finals, certainly are a part of it, but it’s a collective psyche to me. Once it gets going, it’s contagious.’’
Question: And a guy like Stoll also?
LOMBARDI: “He’s another one. He’s been a captain of a team that went to the Finals. He should recognize the psyche of a team and say, ‘OK, let’s calm down, boys, and keep playing our game and start believing in ourselves.’ But again, that’s the whole thing that I’ve always said about building a team. There’s a talent side and a mental side, and it’s about getting to that stage where you know you’re going to win, versus hoping and thinking you’re going to win. That’s a process too. It’s frustrating sometimes, but you’ve got to stick with it. The one thing is, I really do believe in this group. I think they’ve got what it takes to get over that hurdle.’’