Stevens on Hitchcock, Dallas' sturdy checking, separating Kopitar and Brown - LA Kings Insider

On keys for the first game after the All-Star break:
Well, I think the key for every team, and our team included, is just your preparation. I think you’ve really got to – which we’ve done – remind everybody the details of how we need to play, but there’s a lot of mental preparation that goes into digging in and knowing that the execution might be a little off, but don’t get frustrated by that. Trust the team game, let the puck do the work for you and allow the team game to create opportunities. I don’t think you enter this game with a real fancy game plan. I think you really want to get pucks in deep, establish your forecheck and limit the number of quality chances you give up.

On what he liked about his six-man defensive group in the Calgary game:
I thought we had good balance in that group. I think we had some experience with some young guys there. I think the group did a good job of moving pucks. I thought they defended pretty well, so overall, I think the performance of the group as a whole was pretty good. We had a stretch there in the second period where we got into penalty trouble. It doesn’t help, I think, especially with the long change, but I thought by and large and overall we were happy with the way the group played.

On Dallas’ team game and defensive improvements:
They’ve scored 155 goals, but I think what’s happened here is a lot of their offensive opportunity comes from real defensive responsibility. Their D don’t pinch reckless, they pinch really responsible, and I think they really convince their top guys to be committed without the puck. Their top guys are big plus players. They play in a lot of key situations, and they show up in the top one, two or three in every defensive category you can come up with. That’s something I think they’ve really tried to instill here, and I think it’s starting to show in the way they play. They play a real hard, accountable game. They get really quality opportunities from checking the other team off the puck. [Reporter: Is it similar to the Kings and the way that the Kings hope to generate?] Yeah, we talked about it today. It’s very similar. I think you could find a lot of similarities in both teams, and our top offensive guys are committed defensively, and I think they’ve really convinced the guys here to play that way. I think you can make that comparison.

On whether he has similar philosophies as Ken Hitchcock:
You guys probably don’t know this, but Hitch was a long mentor of mine. He coached the Flyers when I coached the minor league team. He was around a lot during the lockout when the season shut down for a full year, and that’s the year we won the (Calder) Cup, in 04-05. I met with him throughout the year. He watched our team a lot, watched our team practice, discussed our team, and he was really, really kind to me in terms of the time and direction, so I learned a lot from Hitch and then worked with him for a short period of time. I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for how prepared he is and what he believes is the right thing to play the game. Although I think he’s evolved as a coach in today’s player, I think his foundation of what he believes to be successful is the same. [Reporter: Is it more X’s and O’s that you took from him, or mental preparation, or is it a little bit of everything, maybe?] I think a little bit of all of it. Certainly X and O’s. He has the ability to be point-on, right sharp to the point of the things that are important to whatever situation you’re talking about. He can cut through the crap and get right to the point, but I think he does a very good job of holding everybody accountable, whether you’re a veteran guy or a young guy.

On separating Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown:
It had nothing to do with the line, to be honest with you. Just especially on the road, I think you’re getting teams that are matching up against Kopi, and then they’re bringing their top guys against other people, and I just think with Brownie and Kopi, they’re really sound, two-way guys. We need their influence on other guys, and I think it balances out a little bit in terms of veteran leadership on different lines there. So, they end up playing together a lot in some key situations, and they end up playing apart in a lot of five-on-five situations. But we didn’t mind the way it worked out.

-One quote on Marian Gaborik was withheld for today’s morning skate report.

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