A lot was made last season about the Kings’ ability to “push back” when teams got physical, a situation that reached a head when Drew Doughty took a hit from Tampa Bay’s Evgeny Artyukhin and nobody from the Kings really responded. Terry Murray was irate with his players’ lack of response. Saturday’s Kings-Lightning game didn’t have much of a “rematch” feel, mostly because Artyukhin now plays for the Ducks, but it was a physical game.
There was a first-period fight, five roughing penalties and matching 10-minute misconduct penalties for the Kings’ Wayne Simmonds and Tampa Bay’s Zenon Konopka. I talked to Simmonds this morning to get his thoughts…
Question: How physical was that game last night?
SIMMONDS: “It was actually really fun to play in. Both teams were going at it pretty hard there. I thought we did well. We stuck up for each other. We played as one and I think it worked out well for us.”
Question: What do you accomplish by “pushing back” early in a game?
SIMMONDS: “Just let them know that you’re going to be there and that you’re never going to go away. That’s what it is. If they push, and we don’t push back, they’re just going to keep coming and coming and they’re going to get more confidence if they think we’re going to fold. I think we responded really well last night. We pushed back and kept on pushing. It showed there. There were a lot of scrums there, but that’s hockey and that’s how it’s played.”
Question: Do you feel like you’re doing a better job of that this season?
SIMMONDS: “We’re coming around. We’re realizing that you can’t be pushed around, because people are going to take you as a joke. That’s not the way we play. We’re a really tight-knit group in this dressing room, and we’re going to stick up for each other.”
Question: And that’s not just about dropping the gloves, right?
SIMMONDS: “No, it’s not. Just get in the middle of it if someone gives you a dirty shot. Get in there, get in his face and let him know it’s not going to happen again. If it comes to it, you have to drop your gloves. It’s going to happen.”