If the team’s “expectations” have evolved, they have done so within the focus of outside eyes. From within the team’s dressing room, the expectations have always been high.
Jonathan Quick, who said “we’ve always had expectations of winning a Cup every year” a week before the playoffs started, clarified his interpretation of those expectations when asked about the establishment and evolution of the team’s culture at Toyota Sports Center on Tuesday, one day after the team’s championship parade and rally.
“I don’t know if I have any really profound answer as far as culture or anything like that,” he said. “I think the expectations are there, obviously. We had those expectations a few years ago. Now it’s people outside of locker rooms start putting those expectations on us, too. Obviously because we were able to do this two out of the last three years, it’s something we know we can do. We know we have the players to do it. It’s just kind of the fact of going out there and actually do it, which is the tough part.”
It was certainly tougher than 2012, when the Kings built up three-nothing leads in each of their four winning series. The team was on the proverbial ropes for much of this spring, and it eventually came to a head during the second intermission in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final when the team’s leaders used a 2-1 deficit as the impetus to rally the group in attempting to turn the early part of the series around.
“I think there was not only that, but there were a lot of moments throughout the playoffs where because we did find ourselves in situations where we have to win the game or we’re done,” Quick said. “We faced a lot of elimination games, a lot of pivotal games. Game 5 is always kind of looked at as a pivotal game. When you think of it, every game is. There were a lot of lines like that thrown out in the locker room, and certainly in…Game 2. We didn’t want to go home 0-2. So that was definitely talked about in that situation.”
That conversation took place on the road, where the Kings have opened 11 of the 13 playoff series they’ve contested since returning to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2010. Los Angeles is 2-0 with home ice advantage and 8-3 without home ice advantage in playoff series over the last five postseasons.
“Obviously we made it a little more difficult on ourselves by not having home ice as often as we started off on the road,” Quick said. “But if you look at the series where we did have home ice, I think it did play a factor in the series. San Jose two years ago, we had to win all four of our home games to move onto the next round. This year with New York, we win our first two home games and it puts a little more pressure on them going back to play in front of their home crowd when they’re down 0-2. Obviously at the end of the day it shouldn’t change your preparation or anything like that. You should just go out and do what you do, do you’re routine and play the same way. But I think it does have a little bit of a factor.”
“We played well on the road. Obviously two years ago we played extremely well on the road. I don’t know how many elimination games we won on the road this time around, but in all the Game 7s we were wearing white jerseys. I think that’s obviously a credit to the group we have to be able to go into some tough buildings and play some of our best hockey.”
Jonathan Quick, on preparing for next season:
We just had a meeting. We discussed that as a team. I think the most important part is making sure the next few days here you put together your schedule so you put it in your head what day you’re going to start workouts or what day you’re going to start getting on the ice again. Just so you have some form of preparation for it.
Quick, on whether he feels like he needs a vacation:
Yeah, I think we all earned it. We get a couple weeks. We’re going to get away from the game a little bit, spend some time with family, then start back over again.
Quick, on playing in Madison Square Garden:
Honestly, I didn’t put too much thought or weight into that. I just kind of, especially at that time, you’re playing in the playoffs and now you start out and you’re one of 30 teams. You make the playoffs and you’re one of 16 and then one of eight, one of four. And then by the time we’re playing New York, it’s just you and one other team. You’re caught up more in that, not really who you’re playing or any feelings you had from your childhood about the team you’re playing. You’re just trying to help your team become one of one.
Quick, on if opposing players ever complement his saves:
You hear it both ways because I also give up some goals. Especially this past postseason, we gave up a lot at times. You’ll hear it both ways. Obviously there is a respect factor where guys make a good play and you’re like ‘Wow.’ And then, obviously, there are times when you don’t make a great play and guys are like ‘Yeah, we saw that.’ It goes both ways.
Quick, on the challenge of resetting mentally after each round of the playoffs:
I remember looking back at the San Jose series. We played them last year, played them four years ago or three years ago, and then we play them again this year. I think it was a bit emotionally draining, that series alone. We’re going to play Game 1 against Anaheim and I’m thinking like I’m already feeling it, so just take it one game at a time. I think it kind of forces you to really stick to that motto of one game at a time. When you’re already kind of feeling the fatigue factor, especially that early in the playoffs. I don’t know how it was for a lot of the other guys. I know for me, I was really just one game at a time. So no matter what happened, win or lose, going into the game I knew after the game whatever the outcome was I knew where I had to be mentally in order to get ready for the next one. It gets said a lot, but you really just kind of get stuck in that mentality.
Quick, on the defensemen:
I think the relationships you build over the years are the things that are going to last. I think especially for a goalie and D-man having that familiarity with each other on the ice and you know how they’re going to make reads. They usually know how you’re going to make reads. I think that goes a long way. When you’re in my shoes, you’re lucky enough to have a group of guys that you get to play with year after year. We played a lot of hockey over the past few years and it builds that relationship and builds chemistry.