As noted earlier, the Kings went through more team-related drills than individual drills today, and the focus will start to shift toward the New Jersey Devils, now that the Stanley Cup Finals matchup has been set. The Kings will practice again in El Segundo tomorrow, then fly East on Monday. The Kings were happy to learn their opponent and to start being able to think about, and study, an opponent. Drew Doughty, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter talked today about the start of those preparations.
DOUGHTY: “We’re excited to get started. They’re a good team. We’ve watched a lot of the games throughout the playoffs, so we know what they’re about. Now it’s just a matter of studying their team, studying their habits and their system play, and we should be very well-prepared. … Those top players are going to be really hard to contain, but we’ve got the guys to do it. Kovalchuk is obviously so skilled offensively. If you give him the room to take that shot, he’s usually going to score. Parise just kind of does it all. He battles so hard, works so hard. He’s a tough player to play against. That’s why he’s their leader. He’s kind of like Brownie in that sense, where he just plays so hard and leads by example. … They’re really solid defensively, and their forwards work really hard back and they create those turnovers. Once they create them, they’re good on the odd-man rushes, to create chances and good shooting opportunities. So we have to make sure that we’re getting pucks in and out and not creating those turnovers.’’
RICHARDS: “We can focus on what Jersey does, and obviously watch some film and get a sense of what we need to do against them, rather than just practicing for the sake of practicing. I think when you can focus on your opponent, and put focus on that in the practice, I think it’s going to obvious benefit more than just practicing.’’
CARTER: “I think they’re still playing a strong defensive game, but you look at the guys they’ve added up front, with Kovalchuk and all those type of guys, so they’re definitely more offensive than they’ve been in the past.’’
Carter’s comments, in particular, were related to a question about how the outside perception of the Devils has changed. Long known as a defensive “trap’’ team, the Devils now have more firepower upfront, led by Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. Darryl Sutter said these are not the Devils of old.
SUTTER: “We’re lucky we get to play them. … They’ve got a lot of skill up front. Their centermen are fast, skilled guys. They’ve got big wingers. They’ve got the veterans and defense and they’ve got, depending on who you talk to, the greatest goalie of all time. (Despite) that old stereotype, they’ve done an awesome job, with that forward group and the way they play.’’
Sutter also talked about how, now that the Kings know their opponent, they can narrow their focus…
SUTTER: “It’s a big difference, when you know who the (opposing) team is. We knew the date. We knew when we were going to travel. We knew the airport we were going to. But the big difference now, and the most important part is, the players and the games. They know the players, and now — not that there’s a big difference in the style between the Rangers and New Jersey, and us and New Jersey — it’s just reinforcing those things for the next few days.’’