April 25 practice quotes: Gravel, Mersch, Dowd + more

Kevin Gravel, on what he took away from being up with the Kings during the playoffs:
Just preparation. They show up to the rink, they come in and whether they’re there for a while or a short stint, they go in there and get their work. It’s kind of just a business approach, similar to what we do down here but they go in there, they get their work done on the ice or in the weight room or whatever they have to do and just kind of approach it in this even-keel manner that’s really important in the playoffs. You lose a game, you win a game, whatever, it’s kind of the same emotional mindset no matter where you’re at in the series.

Gravel, on what he learned from the Kings’ early exit:
Obviously it was a disappointing result for those guys but, like you said, you can learn a lot. Especially for myself, my first time being around in that situation and it’s an exciting time of the year. I think just kind of learn from what went on up there. They approach the game well every game, they just didn’t get the results. But it was always a business-like mindset. They never were panicking or anything like that. They always were confident in their ability to come back in the series, ultimately it didn’t happen, but I think we can use that down here. We lost last game. Not a big deal. We have three more games at home if we need them and that’s why we play the whole year is to get home ice and we’re able to have home ice so we have to use that to our advantage.

Gravel, on how he felt during his first game back on Saturday after nearly three weeks:
It was fun. Obviously it’s exciting to be up top [with the Kings] too no matter what the situation is. I thought the coaches up there did a really good job of keeping the guys who aren’t playing ready to go because you never know what’s going to happen, especially in playoffs, guys could get banged up and you could draw in at any time. You kind of got to stay ready up there which is what I was trying to do, I was just approaching everything like maybe I was playing the next game and ultimately I’m back down here the day after we lose and playing a game. With that mindset, I was kind of ready to go, excited to get back in the game. Little bit winded at first, just getting used to playing and all that again because practice doesn’t really replicate games. Nothing can really replace a game conditioning but as the game went on I felt my legs got underneath me and I felt better as it went on. So, it was good. Nice to get back in there.

Gravel, on the need to get more traffic in front of San Jose goalie Aaron Dell:
We had a lot of shots but I don’t really know how many second opportunities and real dangerous chances we had. I think we can do a better job of crashing the net and just throwing pucks on net. Doesn’t have to be pretty this time of the year. A lot of times you see goals now off a body in front, off a stick in front. A point shot that finds its way through bodies and into the back of the net. I think that’s what we need to do more. You saw Dermy’s goal, just a shot to the point, we’ve got bodies in front and Dell never saw it. He’s a good goalie, if he sees it the chances are he’s going to stop it. I think if we get some traffic there and kind of cause a little havoc in front of him maybe it will disrupt a few things for him.

Michael Mersch, on how important a Game 3 win is in a tied best-of-5 series:
We’ve talked about it as a team. Everybody knows, too, that it’s an important game. We’ve prepared all season for this type of stuff. We had a good practice today and we’re going to have a good practice tomorrow. Nothing changes for us. I think we’re going to be ready to go.

Mersch, on him needing to be a factor in the series:
I’ve got to score goals. If the team’s going to win down the stretch here I’ve got to help the team and get in front of the net and score those dirty goals. Pressure just comes from myself, not from anybody else. Just got to keep going to the front of the net, good things are going to happen. I thought I was in front, maybe a puck didn’t land on my stick like I wanted it to or didn’t bounce my way, but that will happen if you keep going there. The more you go there the more opportunities you’re going to get.

Mersch, on his game right now:
I feel fine. Maybe the points don’t show for it but I felt I played physical and was able to create a little space for my linemates.

Mersch, on how the Reign can learn from the Kings’ early playoff exit:
I thought they had a really good team this year, it’s unfortunate that their season ended that way. You’ve got to give credit to San Jose though, they’re a good team. I think we have our mentality down here, up there a little bit this year you saw kind of what their mentality was and they had a really good regular season. We just keep playing the same way we’ve been playing all year down here in Ontario and I’m going to do what I can to help the team win.

Nic Dowd, on the Reign’s need for its top forwards to make a mark on the series:
Guys that have been around, and we’ve been around last year, know what it takes. Your top guys have to be your top guys every game and we’ve got to be better than their top guys. That’s through the lineup. Each person has their matchup and you win you individual battles and you give your team the best advantage to win the overall game. I think it’s critical for guys who play big minutes and have a lot of responsibility to take on that responsibility and be inviting of it and produce.

Paul Bissonnette, on getting back into Games 1 and 2 after being out injured late in the regular season:
I felt good. Just the overall aspect of a game day, mentally preparing, pregame skate, nap, stuff like that. Other than that we’re kind of running on a little bit of adrenaline, so it kind of helps out.

Bissonnette, on what he brings to the team, even in limited minutes in Game 2:
I’m never one to complain about ice time. If they need me for 8-10 or whether it’s 4 or 5, just keep the emotions high on the bench. I felt good. I’m glad we could contribute a little bit offensively but I’m a team guy and I just want to win.

Bissonnette, on the matchup against San Jose:
Any time now in pro anywhere, doesn’t matter what your seed is, teams that are making playoffs are good and especially a team like San Jose. Maybe didn’t have the best record this year but they play really well structurally and they’re very disciplined, they don’t take a lot of minors and just stick to their game. We knew that coming in and their coach has been around a while and he’s got them prepared. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy and were preparing like that. As you can see from the first two games, I thought we brought our game and were ready to go. They capitalized more than us and they’ve got a good squad.

Bissonnette, on the AHL playing first round five-game series:
I think what the league does is they do it because guys they worked it out with PHPA through the leases — so guys could get out of their lease because the series would be done by the end of the month. It’s a little unfortunate because it’s one of those things where you have one bad game and it could cost you the series but that’s the way it is. We’ve been working on this stuff all year so it’s either you get it done or you don’t.

Head coach Mike Stothers, on what he thought of rookies Amadio, Watson and Herr skating with the regulars today:
I’m not trying avoid your question, it’s hard when the drills are going on to just focus on those guys because you’ve kind of got to watch everything that’s going on. They were fine. I hate that word. I don’t want anybody to be fine. They’ve got to get acclimated to the pace. I’m sure that they were probably a little bit nervous and excited to be in the main practice, on a line with some pretty good players. We’ll try to keep it that way maybe for the remainder of the week and see how it goes and I might be able to give you a better evaluation later as opposed to just today.

Stothers, on Gravel in his return:
I always like Gravs. Any time I can put No. 4 on the sheet, I’m a pretty happy guy. There’s only one 4 that I’d trade him for and that’s Bobby Orr. We’ll take Gravs. I just think the world of him and I think he does a great job for us and really solidifies us on the back end.

Stothers, on the return of Bissonnette and what he brings to the team:
He’s a leader. He’s a veteran presence. He’s an NHL player. Maybe not on a full-time basis yet, but he’s an NHL player. So, any time you can add a guy or get a guy back who’s an NHL player it’s only going to help you out. Great stick, great defender, puck-mover, power play, penalty kill, big shot, comes up with big plays. Pretty versatile guy for us. Plays the left side, plays the right side, can play with a veteran, can play with a young guy. Those guys are hard to find.

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