Players dealt with Game 1 jitters - LA Kings Insider

Last night is one that will never be forgotten for 27 players (11 Kings and 16 Devils), those who played in their first-ever Stanley Cup Finals game. Some, such as 36-year-old Bryce Salvador and 35-year-old Willie Mitchell, waited a long time for the experience. Others, such as 21-year-old Jacob Josefson and 22-year-olds Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Slava Voynov, are getting an early-career test. All of them, most likely, had some pregame butterflies. Even Jonathan Quick, who rarely allows for any public expression of his emotions, talked about dealing with the hours in advance of Game 1…

QUICK: “There were a lot of nerves going throughout the day. My (afternoon) nap wasn’t as good as it usually is. Your head is kind of racing a little bit. You just want to get out there and play. You’re excited about it. Everybody loves the game, and to be playing in it, at this stage, it’s pretty exciting.’’

Did the coaches notice the jitters? It’s tough to say, given that there were other factors involved, especially for the Kings, who were coming off an eight-day layoff. The building, as previously noted, was warm, which might have made players look a little different than they might otherwise. Darryl Sutter talked about how his players felt, and the Devils’ Peter DeBoer talked about the pre-series distractions and how he felt his players dealt with them…

SUTTER: “Our guys said today they felt sluggish (in Game 1). If that was nervous, then so it was. Our guys felt they could play better. That’s a good thing. I’m sure the other team is saying the same thing, too.’’

DeBOER: “I think when they dropped the puck last night. I don’t think there’s any avoiding the distractions that go with playing this time of year. Lou (Lamoriello) addressed our entire group after the conference final on exactly what you’re talking about, based on his experiences, trying to limit as many of those things as you can. But there’s no avoiding them. I thought we did a good job. But the reality is, you know, until the puck drops and the games start, this is a different situation you’re dealing with. You have to handle it the best you can.’’

Even for players with previous Finals experience, it’s a tense time. Most reviews of Game 1 included the observation that it was a “feeling-out’’ game, particularly since the teams had little first-hand experience playing against each other. Jeff Carter, who played in the Finals two years ago with Philadelphia, said he expects that to change in Game 2 on Saturday.

CARTER: “I think it’s kind of expected for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. You had guys who hadn’t been there before, so I expect the next game to be ramped up a little more.’’

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Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right


Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.