Joe Thornton has a three-game point streak and has averaged more than 20 minutes per game through the first four games of the Western Conference Semifinals. The Sharks fed off of his first period intensity on Tuesday night as he served as a catalyst in the game’s early dominance as San Jose out-shot Los Angeles 15-3 through the first 20 minutes.
Brent Burns has also been a handful for the Kings, as the two sizable forwards have been difficult to flush out from behind the net or in front of the goal crease and combined on an even strength goal to open the scoring at 6:09 of the first period Tuesday night. Following the team’s Wednesday practice at Toyota Sports Center, several Kings spoke of the challenge presented by a pair of forwards who have been creating matchup difficulties in L.A.’s defensive end.
Justin Williams, on the Galiardi-Thornton-Burns line:
“They’ve outplayed our top lines, certainly. That’s plain and simple. But the series is two-two. We have home-ice advantage. We worked the season for this. We won the last game of the season for this, and now’s the time to make it worth it.”
Robyn Regehr, on Joe Thornton:
“He’s a very good passer, a very dangerous passer. If you give him time and a lot of space out there, he’s going to make plays. For us, whoever’s playing against him out there on the ice when he’s out there – it doesn’t matter if it’s power play or even strength, whatever it is – you’ve got to make sure you pressure him, get him stopped up, get him in a corner, try to get a little body on him, things like that. Just don’t let him get to the back of the net, things like that.”
Regehr, on Brent Burns:
“I think Thornton’s the key on that line, but Burns has been a good addition because he does provide size and speed as well. But I think the key is still the centermen always is the player that usually handles the puck the most, especially coming up the ice. On that line, I think that’s the most important player.”
Rob Scuderi, on how defensive-minded defensemen such as him and Matt Greene differ in their attempts to counter Thornton and Burns:
It’s no secret that Matt’s a physical defenseman, and that’s how me makes his living. When you’re dealing with a team that has size and is trying to use it, it’s great to have him back in the lineup [and] try to impede those guys to where they’re going. You can do the best job you want, but with some of those guys you’re just not going to have the same effect as a bigger guy and someone who’s physical like Matt is, so we’re glad to have him back.
Darryl Sutter, on where Thornton and Burns have been their most effective:
“Well, it’s been primarily power play, if you look at it. I think that Thornton’s been on the ice in the playoffs for – I’m not sure after how last night was – but going into last night, they had 20 goals that they’ve scored in the playoffs. He’d been on for 15 goals, and only on for one against, so that pretty much tells you there.”