Marian Gaborik had this to say about his comfort level after joining Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and the rest of the Kings after a March 5 trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets: “The guys welcomed me warmly. Right away, I felt comfortable. That’s very important, to feel comfortable. To play along with ‘Kopi,’ he’s a great player … and then ‘Brownie,’ the way we clicked so quickly, it was great.”
Here’s what Kings captain Dustin Brown said of being one victory away from raising the Stanley Cup for the second time in three seasons: “I think it’s fair to say anybody who is not thinking about that going into next game is not being honest. At the same time, we’ve had the ability to not look too far ahead. We’re also had the experience of being through this same exact situation, being up 3-0, so we need to learn on each other and that experience and be focused and ready to go.”
Brown referred to 2012, when the Kings led the New Jersey Devils by 3-0 and had limos parked in front of Staples Center waiting to whisk the players off to a postgame celebration. The Devils rallied to win Games 4 and then 5 before the Kings finally could celebrate the franchise’s first Cup championship with a victory in Game 6. The date of that game was June 11. The date of Game 4 Wednesday is …
Here’s a cool look from The New York Times at Manhattan Beach, hometown of many Kings players and staff: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/07/sports/hockey/la-kings-work-on-ice-but-most-live-on-the-beach.html?ref=sports&_r=0
Kings center Anze Kopitar and winger Dustin Brown each said Friday he was unhappy with his play during a 3-2 overtime victory over the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday. That was news to Kings coach Darryl Sutter, who had this to say when asked about Kopitar’s comment:
“I think ‘Kopi’ busts his ass every night, for lack of a better word. Somebody brought it up yesterday and it wasn’t ‘Kopi.’ “Kopi’ played more minutes, big minutes, than anybody on our team. In crucial situations he does it, so … He never has a bad game.”
As long as he harnesses it the right way, Kings captain Dustin Brown said he likes it when defenseman Drew Doughty plays with emotion. Brown has spoken to Doughty about learning how to channel his anger in the right direction and making it work for him rather than against him. Here’s more from Brown:
“I think the emotion is awesome. He’s still learning how to use that emotion the right way. Sometimes people blow it up and say, ‘Oh, he’s so emotional.’ I think it’s great. There are other times and I’ve had talks with him. He understands it’s not an easy thing to do. He’s learning it. It’s something all players learn. I’ve learned.”
Here’s what Doughty had to say about playing mad and yelling at the referees at they missed seeing him get hit in the face with a stick in Game 1:
“I’m going to be upset if I get hit in the face. Maybe instead of yelling at them, I should just be talking to them or completely ignoring it, to be honest. I got frustrated. I probably wouldn’t have snapped if we didn’t get a penalty right after that happened. It may be that showing frustration to my teammates isn’t a good thing, but it makes me play better. I’ve got to fix it, but I like it at the same time. I’ve learned that. Losing it on the refs is the wrong thing to do. I don’t know why I still do it. I’ve got to fix it.”
Kings captain Dustin Brown has told the story before, and he related it again Friday. He grew up in Ithaca, N.Y., and just to be different, just to annoy family and friends, he didn’t root for the New York Rangers like everyone else in his upstate town. He was a fan of the Vancouver Canucks when the team faced off against the Rangers in the 1994 Stanley Cup Final. He also said he rooted for the Quebec Nordiques, which he said he couldn’t explain beyond admiring the play of Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic before the franchise relocated to Denver and began the Colorado Avalanche before the 1995-96 season.
“Everyone was a Rangers fan in upstate New York, so I tended not to like the Rangers just to be different,” Brown said, smiling. “I started liking Vancouver because they played them in ’94. I liked the Quebec Nordiques for some reason.”
The Rangers eliminated the Montreal Canadiens in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Thursday, a game Brown said he didn’t watch on TV because he had other commitments. New York’s trip to the Stanley Cup Final will be its first since Brown rooted against them in the ’94 Final, when they defeated the Canucks for their first Stanley Cup championship since 1940.
By now you probably know that Jake Muzzin, Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown scored to give the Kings a 3-0 lead by the end of the first period as they roared to a 5-2 victory Monday over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals. Muzzin and Brown scored on the power play.
What you might not know is that the Kings’ power play improved to 16 for 56 (28.6 percent) over the last 16 playoff games, dating to Game 3 of their first-round victory over the San Jose Sharks. The Kings’ power play clicked at a meager 15.1 percent during the regular season, 27th-best in the NHL.
“We’re trying to simplify it a little bit,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said of the rejuvenated power play. “We’re just trying to get pucks up to the D-men, trying to get shots that way. My mentality on the first one, just kind of get a shot off, a one-timer, no matter what it was. If it hits the guy, it hits the guy. Just want to get that in their heads, that we’re going to be shooting pucks. The more you shoot, the more other things open up. We took advantage of those things.”
The Kings are 3-3 at Staples Center going into Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday. They also are 6-4 on the road after winning Game 2 of the best-of-7 series Wednesday in Chicago. The Kings eliminated the Sharks in Game 7 in San Jose in the first round and then did the same to the Ducks in Anaheim in the second.
“It’s always nice to play at home and have home-ice advantage, but one thing about it: we’re comfortable on the road and I think if you’re not comfortable on the road you’re probably not playing at this time of the year,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said of the road-ice advantage so far in the playoffs. It’s one of those things that comes into play, but at the end of the day, at this time of the year, it’s about finding a way. Home and road, we haven’t been very good at home and that’s going to be a challenge for us, to have that same focus at home.”
Jill Painter will have much more on this subject in her column for the Los Angeles News Group, but here’s what two of Drew Doughty’s Kings teammates are saying about him in comparison to the now-retired Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit:
Kings center Anze Kopitar (after a 6-2 victory in Game 2 on Wednesday’s: “I’ve been saying this for a couple of years now, but he’s our Nick Lidstrom. We all know what he did in Detroit for many, many years. I think Drew likes the big stage. He likes these types of games. He gets very emotional. He just brings his game to the next level at this time of the year and in these types of games.”
Kings captain Dustin Brown (after Friday’s practice): “I can’t speak for ‘Kopi’, but the way I look at that is Drew has a long way to go to be a Nick Lidstrom. But I think he has the impact on our team comparable to the impact that Lidstrom had on Detroit. Their skill sets are similar but I think Drew has a long way to go to be that player. But his impact on our team has a similar effect. I think there’s been a big growth spurt from him from that (leadership) standpoint in the last year and half. Just being more vocal and saying certain things at the right time. … He’s kind of coming into his own as an off-ice kind of guy with his personality and the way he’s matured. He’s getting to that time where he’s taken more of a role.”
OK, here’s what’s coming up next in this Kings-Ducks series:
Game 7 is Friday at 6 p.m. at the Honda Center. Friday’s winner advances to play the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals. Game 1 is at noon Sunday. If the Ducks win, they will play host to the Blackhawks. If the Kings win, they will travel to Chicago.
“I think it’s good for this area,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said of the series going the distance. “There’s a lot of excitement and probably a lot of nervous people. Neither team wants a Game 7, but from a fan’s perspective and a Southern California perspective, it’s probably good for the growth of the game.”