December 19 morning skate quotes: Darryl Sutter

On what he’d like to see out of the last game of a long road trip:
Try and finish the way we started. A little bump in the middle. Played good, and you’re going to look at it at the end of the trip, not any other way. You’ve got to take it a game at a time, always, and see how you match up and see how you play.

On how not playing into the spring has affected the team this season:
Well, we’re used to playing in the spring. There’s not much other way around it. What has got overlooked a little bit around the league and certainly by our team last year is you’ve got to make the playoffs before you can play in the spring, and how difficult it is. Last year wasn’t really an off year for our team. We had the same record as when we won the first cup. Just now with the division and with the way the games are set up, the alignment is not proper. If you look at it now, we’re playing our 32nd game. So you play 29 games in your division. We’ve only played eight, so it really doesn’t add up the way it all adds up. There’s nothing we can do about it in terms of the balance.

On whether the Kings are “fresher” having had a longer off-season:
Well, they looked tired today. We’re a younger team. Last year I remember coming to Toronto, and you couldn’t ask any more of our team last year. It was just an older team, and you could see there was not much gas in the tank.

On roster turnover on defense and older veterans giving way to younger players:
I think that started after the first Cup, the changes then. If you look at our defense, a big change. Big change. Ehrhoff plays teen-minutes, but Marty’s our next oldest guy and plays 20-something minutes, so it’s a total change of our back end, basically.

On whether Trevor Lewis will play tonight:
You know what, I haven’t even talked to him. … I mean, obviously, we’ve got to activate him first, so I’ll talk to him.

On Michael Mersch’s power play screen in Montreal, and his usage:
I think that’s his game, is down low to tops of the circles, is what his game is. Just trying to give guys opportunities on the trip. It’s no more than that. If they’re having a good game, kids like that, get him out there for part of the power play is good for ‘em.

On how Mike Babcock’s influence has impacted the Maple Leafs:
Work ethic, play as a team. I know the way it works. It reminds me of when I went to San Jose, very same. They started the year here, what, 1-7-2? So, everybody’s going, ‘Oh, gee.’ Now in their last 20 they’re 9-6-5 and then in their last four, they’ve scored what, 14 goals? It’s going in the right direction, and it’s not just the influence of one person. I know that from being in that situation, too. It’s got to do with veteran leadership in your locker room, and organization.

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