The Los Angeles Kings are a team that thrives on puck possession and aggressive puck-moving mentality that encourages the defensemen to transfer the puck up to the forwards quickly in order to gain entry into the offensive zone.
It was a challenge in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals as the St. Louis Blues relied on a consistent forecheck that disrupted Los Angeles’ ability to use crisp passes in exiting its own zone with speed.
Robyn Regehr, on the physicality of the Blues and how they were able to sustain pressure:
“I think we didn’t do a very good job of coming out of our zone, especially in the first half of the game. That allowed them to get into our zone, get the forecheck going and really played to their strengths. So for us, we need to counter that and get back to doing a better job in executing our game. I think you’ll see a much different team in Game 2.”
Regehr, on how the team can counter St. Louis’ forecheck:
“Well, a better job moving the puck, I think…breaking out on the forecheck. We know that they want to come in and be very aggressive on that forecheck, so we all as a five-man group have to get back very quickly and make very short little plays, because that’s the only thing you can do when you’re under a lot of pressure like that. You can’t spread out, because you need to support one another. So if we do that, we’ll be fine.”
Regehr, on what changed to allow the Kings to carry the play in overtime:
“Well, I think you saw us just moving the puck a little bit better and not spending as much time under pressure. When we can get those pucks up to our forwards as quickly as possible, they were doing a good job getting it in and also cycling. You saw a couple shifts there where a guy like Dustin Penner in the corner really took advantage of his size and strength, and that’s more of the stuff that we need to do.”
Darryl Sutter, on avoiding a forecheck by advancing pucks and using speed in neutral ice:
“When we did it, that’s exactly right – with speed through the neutral zone. We did that. And when we didn’t, it shows up. Same with them. It’s not like it was every shift. Then, they would have beat us 15-nothing [with] the play being in our zone all the time. That’s not the case. Move pucks quick and expect to get hit.”
Sutter, on whether St. Louis has improved its physical play compared to last year:
“I don’t know. I mean, Ryan and Stewart and Backes are still the leaders in it – and Barret – and they were physical guys last night. We knew that last year. I don’t really look at it as a physical thing. I think both teams are fast teams that work. So it’s not so much the ‘physical’ part of it. I mean, it’s like talking about Muzzin and Keaton. I mean, Muzz got knocked on his ass three or four times early, and then he knocked guys on their ass. I don’t look at it like that. You know what it’s like in playoffs. I mean, there’s more contact, but if you’re running around trying to make contact, then usually you’re out of position or you’re taking a penalty. If you look at last night, there was a power play goal and a shorthanded goal, so special teams are fairly important, and if you [learn] anything from last year’s series, St. Louis took a lot more penalties. In fact, in Game 2 last year, if I remember right, I think they took nine minor penalties in Game 2. I’m not sure about the ‘physical’ part of it. I think both teams are going to play hard.”