Hello from Montreal, where the team arrived shortly after noon before busing to the Bell Centre for a practice that appeared to be optional but still drew the vast majority of the players to the ice some 16 hours after the final horn sounded to end Los Angeles’ 7-0 win over Toronto at the Air Canada Centre. There were no line rushes, and Darryl didn’t tip his hand towards any hypothetical lineup changes for tomorrow’s game against the Canadiens. Keep in mind that Tom Gilbert, a former Hab, will be available for selection after completing his three-game suspension; on the other hand, would Darryl Sutter choose to make lineup changes for a team that has won three straight, including a pair of games by an aggregate 12-0 score?
For the first time in quite some time, reporters received the This Ain’t Baseball reminder.
Darryl Sutter, on whether Peter Budaj will start on Thursday:
We only have two, so I’m assuming one of the two will play. Hopefully – we’ve used a lot of goalies this year. Our organization has used seven.
Sutter, on what he has liked about Budaj’s play:
I think he’s a veteran that’s come in and has given us some stability. Hey, he’s been in our organization – this is our second year, so he’s familiar with the organization. He lived in LA all summer. He worked out, so the players are familiar with him. He’s responded really well.
Sutter, on whether the Kings are more equipped than other teams to play without a #1 goalie:
No. [Reporter: Why do you say that?] Because your number one goalies in the NHL, it’s not just us, there are 13 or 14 teams that have clear-cut number one goalies, meaning that’s a star player on your team. You can weather a storm without ‘em. I know just speaking from my own coaching career, I can go back as far as Calgary when Kiprusoff got hurt, the year that we got beat in seven games in the Stanly Cup by Tampa, Kiprusoff, we traded for him, got him, and then he got hurt and missed a significant part of the season and we were able to weather the storm and still go to the Stanley Cup Final because he came back, and it would be the same thing when Jonathan Quick got hurt in 14, is that correct? [Reporter: 13. 13-14.] So the 13-14 season we were able to weather the storm and stay in it. That’s a fact, and it’s what I’ve said, and that’s what we’ll try and do. Either we will or we won’t. If our goaltending holds up and we get some timely scoring.
Sutter, on what makes the Kings able to weather losing a top goaltender:
Well, we’ve weathered the storm for six years, and the way we’ve done it is to be a high-possession team. When you’re a high-possession team, you don’t play very much is your own zone, and that means you have the puck more than the other team, and it allows you to take some pressure off your goalie. I think we take great pride in not getting a lot of shots against, giving up a lot of shots. And with that, that’s the quality part of it, too. That’s the reason we’ve been able to win a lot of games the last few years.
Sutter, on what has changed in Budaj’s performance since the Anaheim game:
Well, goalies don’t play great every games. I mean, I know you guys are spoiled, but they don’t play great every game. But when you only give up 20 shots, then you expect 20 saves. That’s not a high demand, that’s what I expect.
Sutter, on how Tom Gilbert has fit in:
I think he’s given us some depth, and it was unfortunate he was suspended. He was just starting to play well. Our defense is a much more mobile defense than it was a year ago, and I think he’s helped us with that, so hopefully we can get him back in again. [Reporter: Is Tom playing tomorrow?] You know what, are you coming to the game tomorrow? [Reporter: Yes.] Well, then you’ll find out if he’s playing. Jeez, I don’t know why people ask that. It’s not baseball, football. It’s hockey. We don’t say who’s playing. It doesn’t make much sense telling the other team. We have enough problems with social media, giving up who’s hurt and what’s wrong and where they were at last night. I don’t think coaches should have to tell the other team who’s playing and who’s not. [Reporter: What is the difference in hockey, then?] Because we have a 23-man roster. Sometimes you have a broken nose, right? You can’t play tomorrow. We don’t tell people about a lot of our injuries and what’s wrong and things like that. It doesn’t make sense. It’s a heavy contact sport. I don’t think it serves any purpose for coaches or players to say whether they’re playing or they’re not playing.