Good afternoon from Toyota Sports Center, where the Kings practiced at 11:00 a.m. in advance of Saturday’s matinee against the Dallas Stars. Friday practices in advance of Saturday afternoon games often reveal lineup clues, though the thrust of the team’s practice involved special teams, and players weren’t color coded by line. Kris Versteeg is on the verge of a return, one that could come tomorrow. But other than a potential Versteeg return, there were no clear hints towards any lineup changes that Darryl Sutter might implement versus Dallas. Jonathan Quick left the ice first at practice and should be expected to start against the Stars.
I’ll have some stories on Jonathan Quick and Drew Doughty and a SolarCity video later today, but before we go any farther, here are today’s Darryl Sutter quotes:
On the focus with five games remaining after having clinched a playoff berth:
Just focus on the individual part of it and keep the X and O’s in place. I think the veteran group, the leadership part of it, has been really sending the same message, trying to get guys to make sure they’re playing as well as they can.
On what he attributes Drew Doughty’s rise in offense this year to:
We’re a playoff team. If we weren’t, you wouldn’t talk about that. Very clear. I think the individual stuff is way blown out of proportions, way out of line. I think the individual stuff I’d be interested in now, if we’re only talking about one player getting all the recognition, why wouldn’t Jonathan Quick, who’s in the top five in every category be a nominee, or how about talking about Vincent Lecavalier, which is even better being recognized by his teammates for a major award, which may be the ultimate compliment you could get, or what Kopitar does for the team? I’m not answering the individual stuff. If we wouldn’t have been a playoff team two weeks ago, then I probably wouldn’t have even talked about it.
On Doughty’s offensive production had he played in the Smythe Division years:
Well, everybody said he had his best year in one of the worst years in Kings history, so I can’t believe Drew would agree with that. I would say Drew would say his best years would be winning a Stanley Cup, being a great player in the playoffs, going to a conference finals, winning a Stanley Cup, playing in All-Star Games, playing in the Olympics. He would definitely say those would be his best seasons. So he was able to get team accomplishments this year by being a playoff team again, having a chance at a division title, which he hasn’t had, all those things I would guarantee you that Drew would rather talk about than those things.
On when he realized that Jonathan Quick was a “special” player:
Oh, I think I knew that coming in. Part of being a good coach, there’s three things that are really important to being a good coach – having a really good goalie, having a really good defenseman, having a really good centerman. Those three were in place here with Jonathan, Drew and Kopi.
On Quick’s aversion to talking about individual accomplishments:
Hey, winning matters. At the end of the day, winning matters. There’s a lot of goalies that when you give up two or three goals that their game changes not for the better, where Jonathan is about winning and having to make big saves and that sort of thing. You’ve even seen it lately. We’ve played a lot of really close games. Take the empty nets out, and there’s so much changes in one shift, meaning a big save at one end and a goal at the other end, and it becomes even more prevalent for a playoff team. You can win, but you don’t win consistently without that guy over a long period of time. It’s why you see the best 10 goalies, or it’s probably even smaller than that in the league now, that play 60-to-70 games. There’s a reason why. They give their teams the best chance to win those 60 or 70 games. They’re the most important player.
On what stands out with the Dallas Stars:
They’re a playoff team. Last year they weren’t.