The Kings returned to Toyota Sports Center this morning to take part in another up-tempo practice, moving from transition drills to battle and compete simulations and eventually finishing off on-ice activities with a conditioning skate.
It wasn’t vastly different from the practices experienced over the past two years, when the team contended with truncated schedules that impacted the extent to which they endured non-game day skates and skill reinforcement.
“You know what, we’ve tried to keep our practices high-pace, and just have your execution and make sure you’re ready. That’s pretty much what we’ve talked about since day one,” Darryl Sutter said. “It’s a different type of training camp, obviously, when you’re coming off the championship. It’s just a different type of training camp because you’re putting emphasis on just trying to get in regular season mode.”
That regular season – which features the second title defense in club history – begins Wednesday as the San Jose Sharks visit.
“It’s the first game of the year, and I think that’s always an exciting game, regardless of the situation,” said Dustin Brown when asked about the first meaningful game between the teams since the Sharks’ collapse last April.
“It’s probably a little more exciting for us being the banner night, and then for them motivationally, it’s probably a big game. But at the end of the day, it comes down to two points. It’s very early in the year…As a player, as the way we look at things as a group in there, it’s just two points.”
Dustin Brown, on what the team is looking to accomplish over its final practice:
Just fine tuning your game, really. Our practices have been pretty short, pretty direct in what we’re trying to do. Individually, every player’s different in what they need. So you just try to find what you need and go from there. [Reporter: Any added intensity or anything compared to training camp after the day off on Sunday?] No, not really. Again, we’ve been through this together as a group. It’s game time now, and we know what that means, and we know what we need to do to get ready to go.
Brown, on whether he senses the team’s focus by talking to a player, or in workouts:
I think it’s a bit of both. Just how guys carry themselves is part of it, and talking to guys, and the other part is just playing the game, knowing, having that trust in each other to do the right things as much as we can, and a lot of that is the result of us playing together. I mean, we said that in 2012. There was a group of us that had played together…and now you’ve added two years, and success breeds success.
Brown, on the notion that the team tends to “cruise” through the regular season:
I don’t think “cruise” would probably be the right word, because we tend to make it very hard, and the way we play, it’s not an easy game to play for 82 games. That might be partly why we don’t finish with 115 points, but it’s all in preparation. Each and every game you’re trying to get better, and as the season goes along, it’s about finding ways to win games and putting yourself in a situation where you’re not scrambling at the end. Again, it’s all part of the journey.