Darryl Sutter opted to adjust his lines for Game 4, a decision that placed Mike Richards as a center between Tanner Pearson and Jeff Carter. Though the trio was on the ice for Anaheim’s even strength goal, Sutter liked the group’s ability to maintain a consistent attack, saying “I thought that was a good line for us.”
“They created multiple scoring opportunities and did a good job against whoever they were on the ice against,” Sutter said.
Though the line didn’t grade as well in their ability to own as high a percentage of the shot attempts as the King-Stoll-Brown line – three players who combined to be on the ice for 69 shot attempts for and 18 shot attempts against – they were able to hook up on one of Los Angeles’ Grade-A opportunities, one in which John Gibson made a fine pad save on Tanner Pearson.
The line’s efforts appeared to represent the team’s effort as a whole as the three players combined for three shots on goal while four attempts were blocked and two attempts missed the net.
“Other than that one goal – I think it was a little bit of a mix-up – we created some,” Mike Richards said. “I think we were there in the same boat as I was talking, one-and-done. We didn’t seem to have too much zone time where we were missing the net and it was breaking the team out. A little bit more sustained pressure would be more ideal, I think.”
Referring to Gibson as a “good Kitchener boy,” referencing their shared Ontario Hockey League alma mater, Richards commended Anaheim’s rookie goaltender while articulating ways the team will look to improve its fortunes offensively.
“From what I’ve heard, he’s a really good goaltender,” Richards said. “Just like any goaltender in the league, you have to get bodies in front of him. Really any goaltender, if you see the puck, you’re going to stop it, so we have to make his life a little bit more difficult in there and hopefully get some bodies and pucks to the net and some second cracks at it. When we did do that last night, we had some opportunities, but when we didn’t, we were one-and-done. He made it look pretty routine.”
Mike Richards, on what the team will look to accomplish in Game 5:
Just go out there and play your best and try to win the next one. All you can control is the next game. I don’t think we’ve played poorly, but we just haven’t gotten to that desperation level that we had in San Jose where you’re just fighting for every inch on the ice, and I think that’s that mentality that we have to get back to. They’re close games. A one goal game last night was two goals with a bounce here or there, and we know we can play better. I’m sure they’re thinking that they can play better. It’s going to be a good last couple games.
Richards, on holding Anaheim without a shot for 25:33 during Game 4:
That’s what I mean by they probably think they probably think that they can play better. We came at ‘em hard. We threw a lot at the net, but I think we missed the net on a lot of opportunities where we didn’t have a chance to create any loose pucks or scrambles in front because we missed the net with a lot of it. That’s a point of emphasis. We’re probably thinking the exact same thing that they were thinking in the first couple games, is get bodies and pucks and try to create some scramble in front of the net, especially with the young kid back there. I know he’s calm and cool or whatever, but it’s our job to make his job a lot harder…It’s a tough situation that he’s put in with last night, possibly their season on the line, and now a best-of-three series. So it’s a lot of pressure to put on a young kid. You can say it all you want – ‘he’s calm and cool,’ but if we start getting bodies there, we don’t know how he’s going to react. So it’s I guess a trial thing where we can go out there and see and get try to get pucks there and see how he handles it.
Richards, on how to seize momentum:
Win a game. That would be the simplest explanation.