Players and coaches have grown tired of talking about confidence, about home and road records, about history and most everything else. In fairness, most media folks have grown just as tired of asking about all that stuff. With the two days between Game 4 and 5 completed, the focus can return to the ice tonight. The Kings have faced questions the last couple days about confidence, and how that intangible quality might have shifted after the New Jersey Devils won Game 4. Rather than discussing the macro, the Kings are trying to break it down to the micro, focusing on parts of their games that they need to improve rather than worrying about numbers or concepts. Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll talked about what the Kings will want to go in Game 5…
WILLIAMS: “You avoid doubt with confidence. You have to exude it, and we have it in this dressing room. We’re a very confident team that knows we haven’t played our best hockey yet. Now, in saying that, it’s disappointing that we haven’t played great yet. We have to get there, but at the same time, it’s encouraging that we’re up 3-1. … These games are so close. The big stat is, yes, we’re up 3-1, but it could very easily be turned, and we’re well aware of that. I just think we need to be better in every single facet of the game, not just one thing.’’
STOLL: “Winning battles, passing the puck. It starts with faceoffs. I wasn’t very good, last game, in faceoffs. I’ll be better in Game 5. There are a lot of areas. You’ve got to start with the puck. You don’t want to chase the game. Getting that first goal is obviously huge, too. Bearing down on our chances, just being sharper like that. Breaking the puck out cleaner, crisper passes, receiving passes. Just that little bit of sloppy play that we had.’’
And what about the physical play? The hit totals from a game are sometimes telling, but they’re also highly subjective, depending on the off-ice official who is tabulating them. The physical nature of a game isn’t always measured by hit totals, as Devils coach Peter DeBoer pointed out, but in the countless number of puck battles that take place.
DEBOER: “I think the discrepancy, you’re probably talking 10 hits a night. Both teams are playing physical. I don’t think that’s going to be the determining factor. Everyone’s playing hard out there. It’s a physical series. There’s a lot of puck battles. There’s a lot of fight for territory in the corners, in the front of the net. I don’t think there’s a correlation. I think tonight both teams will come out and be real physical.’’