Earlier today, Tanner Pearson and Adrian Kempe spoke with assembled reporters from the Los Angeles and Edmonton media contingents and answered questions surrounding the team’s struggle to rise up in the standings during the late season playoff push and tonight’s opponent, the Edmonton Oilers (6:00 p.m. / FOX Sports West / FOX Sports GO / KABC 790 / I Heart Radio).
Pearson, who was on the ice during Matthew Tkachuk’s elbow to Drew Doughty’s face and was a central figure in the ensuing scrum, was asked about Los Angeles’ response to the liberty taken by the Calgary rookie. His response did come off restrained, which may have been due in part to not wanting to say anything incendiary and having received significant training to answer pointed questions from the media, or having moved past the hit some 16 hours later, or knowing that his comments, with a group of reporters surrounding him, could get some significant rotation. Perhaps it is a combination of several of these ideas; perhaps it is due to none of them.
Tanner Pearson, on the focus for tonight’s game:
I think it’s kind of the same thing. We’ve just got to focus one game at a time. Obviously I think all teams are kind of fighting for the same thing right now and it’s coming down to the wire pretty quick and we’ve got to start winning some games.
Pearson, on Tkachuk’s hit on Doughty and the kind of reaction that he feels is necessary from the team:
I think every circumstance is kind of the same. I don’t think it matters what kind of game it is. I didn’t really see the hit, personally, but you see a guy like that go down or you see any teammate go down you want to help them out and it happened.
Pearson, on whether the Kings have had issues with Tkachuk in recent games:
No, I don’t think there’s any really problems. You know, he’s playing his kind of hockey and some guys are like that. It’s just, you know, he’s doing his part.
Pearson, on whether Tkachuk, as a rookie, showed enough respect for “the best defenseman in the world”:
Yeah I think if I was a rookie, and I’m not saying that he got under skin and all, but if I was getting under someone’s skin I would like to say I was doing my job, so it’s the way hockey’s played. There’s different types of players and he was just doing his job and fighting for a puck and it happened.
Pearson, on whether the Kings would have a larger reaction if it was a game earlier in the season:
Yes and no. I think it’s all the same thing. Whenever you see a teammate go down you obviously want to stick up for him so it’s how the game is played. It’s how it’s been played for a long time now, so it’s just another game.
Pearson, on whether Doughty spoke to the team or acted demonstrably to the team after the hit:
I think Drew is one to shake stuff off pretty easy and he’s an emotional player out there, and you know obviously I don’t think that one really got to him that much.
Pearson, on why the next gear for the Kings “isn’t kicking in”:
Yeah I think it’s maybe the execution part. I know myself wasn’t executing as I want to in that type of game and it’s coming down to a crunch time, or it is pretty much crunch time in other words, so we’ve got to be on our game every shift and every game.
Pearson, on whether the Kings haven’t been executing or the opposition has been executing better:
I think like I said before, everyone’s in the same boat. Everyone’s fighting for the same spot right now and the teams that we’re playing right now are all in the same boat so it’s going to be a hard-fought game from here on and in and we’ve got to do our part.
Adrian Kempe, on whether it’s difficult to maintain a “must-win” mindset through the remaining games:
Well yeah before yesterday I think we played really good games so I think, yeah, we’re going to try to make a push here now. And just try to get back to our game and play heavy and physical and try to get more pucks to the net and hopefully we’re gonna score some more goals, too.
Kempe, on how he feels about his own game:
Well I think I’ve got better and better. I think I get more confidence every game. Some games can be tougher games than others. Yeah, as I said, I think I’ve played better and better and I think I try to get more confidence and I get used to the game a little bit more out there so I think, yeah, I’m starting to get used to it and I like the game.
Kempe, on whether he’s looking forward to playing against McDavid:
Yeah. I mean, he’s a great player and it’s going to be exciting. I haven’t played a game against him yet so as I said, he’s a good player but I’m going to try to play hard and you’ve got to play those guys hard to win the game.
Kempe, on whether veterans on the team have said anything to the young players on the Kings to try and elevate their game:
Well I think, we’re a couple young guys who came up – me and Paul – and I think we’d look to try to get some speed to the team and I think we’re going to try to play hard and play our game and try to, yeah, make plays and everything like that so I think, yeah, as you said, they came out fast yesterday and we weren’t really prepared for that, so I think we’re going to prepare better today and hopefully we’re going to be ready for the 60 minutes tonight.