The Kings will finally return to a full practice today after getting some much deserved time off on Monday and Tuesday. Coming off their series sweep of the St. Louis Blues it was time to recharge and recoup. However, during the down time, we did speak by phone with team captain Dustin Brown and the suddenly surging Dustin Penner. Here are some brief highlights from the calls…
- Brown on having a few days off before the next series – “I think physically and mentally it’s pretty good, probably more on the mental side of things. When you get to this point in the year, physically you can find a way to get yourself going. But, mentally, you’re in a high-stress, high-pressure situation, day in and day out. So, just to have a day to not really think about hockey or the nerves and type of pressure that comes with being in the playoffs – it’s nice to get away from the game for a day or two and kind of let your mind reset.”
- Brown on using a wrist shot vs. slap shot in the playoffs – “Wrist shots are ultimately a lot quicker and a lot more accurate. The quicker you get your shot off, I find, the less time the goalie has to make the save. With a slap shot, you give him an extra second – just by winding up, it gives him an extra second. I don’t take all that many slap shots, partly because I don’t really have a good one. But, I find the more quickly you shoot the pucks, the more likely you are to have a chance at scoring. So, probably the wrist shot or snap shot, is definitely the quicker of the shots you can select from.”
- Does the back checking in the league/playoffs create pressure that prevents a big wind up? “Yeah, definitely. Not only the back checking and the pressure on you, but the pressure in front of you,” said Brown. “Blocking shots has really become a big part of the game and it’s not just one or two guys doing it. You’ll have three or four guys trying to block your shot in zone. It’s just a challenge to get it on net sometimes. It’s not really necessarily how hard you shoot it, but how quick and where you shoot it.”
- Brown on top players playing well in the playoffs – “We’re all clicking right now. A lot of it has to do with, we’re getting big games from different people each and every night. It’s not just our top guys that are playing well and getting us big goals. We’re getting depth scoring, which is huge at this time of year. Going along with that, no one is really having off nights, in the sense that we don’t have guys making mistakes. There’s guys who aren’t maybe finishing their chances every night, but every one is doing all the little things right and that goes a long way toward being successful. Just thinking about game three vs. Vancouver, we won that game 1-0 and that was because we had one opportunity to score a goal and we did. Every other opportunity, every other little play, was made from top to bottom – which allowed us to win a game 1-0. That’s what playoff hockey is all about, having everybody buy in and having big players step up.”
- Brown on physical conditioning – “A lot of the feeling good (physically) at this time of the year is (based on) what you do in the summer in getting yourself ready to play an 82-game season and beyond. The other side of it is taking care of yourself off the ice on a day-to-day basis. I think that’s something everyone is pretty good at at this level, getting the proper rest and eating right and doing all the little things that make you feel better at this time of year. The other thing is managing the practice times and all that. We have a day off today and that goes a long way in helping guys recover from a physical standpoint.”
- Brown on what it means to be a leader – “With the Kings, it’s one of those things where I was named captain and I probably didn’t really know what it meant to be a leader when I was named. It’s been a learning process for me. With this team in particular, it’s just setting an example on the ice, in the way that I play. I think if I do all the little things right and play the right way, it makes it really easy for everyone else to kind of fall in line. And being in LA, with the type of team we have, it’s not just me – it’s not just me and Kopi and Greener either. We have 10 or 13 guys in the room who are leaders. So, when it comes to the whole leadership responsibility, it’s not the burden of just one or two guys, which makes it a very comfortable place where you can lean on each other in times of need. That goes along way in having strong leadership.”
- Brown on maintaining focus when you’re only half way to the ultimate goal – “With this time off, it’s nice to get mentally and physically recovered. But, like I said, and this kind of touches on the group of guys that we have in the room – we have a lot of guys who have been through this before and have the experience. So, it’s just a matter of bringing awareness to it. This team, this group of guys has been really focused, not getting ahead of ourselves. In both series we had a 3-0 lead and found a way to close it out. When you get up 3-0, you could have a tendency to look ahead. We’ve been really focused – not only on game to game, but shift to shift. We need more of that over the next week here – just focusing in and not looking ahead. It will be a little easier once we know who we’ll be playing. Then, we can start getting ready, from a video standpoint and their tendencies. Then, you can start to really key in on what you need to do to be successful once we start playing again.”
Now, Dustin Penner – who had five points (one goal, four assists) and was a plus-5 in the sweep of the St. Louis Blues…
- Penner on how he’s feeling – “Dustin and I talked about it after the game (Sunday) night. We thought it would be a good chance to regroup mentally and physically, but more importantly, just that mental aspect because of the grind and the stress you go through on a daily basis when you’re focusing in on the task at hand.”
- Are you helping with the leadership in the room, given your experience in 2007? “I try not to stick my nose in too much. Maybe I look for the opportune times,” said Penner. “For me and the guys who have made long playoff runs before and won the Cup, I think we help out in a similar fashion. It’s more with more of the mental side of things. I see a lot of similarities between the Ducks run and this run we’re currently on. There’s still eight more wins to go. But, the mentality of the team, the focus and intensity we have each shift and each game – even at practice, the way we’re moving the puck – it’s breeding confidence. That’s a byproduct of our success. We’ve all bought in. You can tell by the way we carry ourselves as a team and as individuals on a daily basis.”
Penner on Brown as a leader – “He was named captain a while ago for a good reason. Everybody is becoming privy to that now. He’s a relentless, tireless worker. It helps open up the door for his skill to shine through. He’s a quiet leader, in terms of how he talks to the team. But, they say actions speak a lot louder than words and he’s yelling his leadership on the ice with the way he plays. We get the same Dustin Brown every night. It doesn’t matter who the other team is or if it’s (Daniel/Henrik) Sedin or (David) Backes or whoever, he is making them work for every inch of ice when he’s on it.”
Penner on moving from the third line to the second line – “I thought I played well with Stolly and Lewis. We had a good series with Vancouver. Yet, the one thing I think a team does when they make a long run is they adjust and adapt to each individual game and series. I was moved up to play with (Mike Richards and Jeff Carter) and we’ve worked well together as a line. They’re really good players. They’re both multi-faceted, talented players. It’s really easy to play with them and I’ve tried to step up my game so I could adequately support the line.”
Penner on what type of linemates he needs to bring out the best in him – “I don’t know. I’ve always thought I needed a big centerman to play with. That’s not the case, Ricky (Richards) plays big. But, it’s just learning as you get older, learning to adapt to different styles of players that you play with. That’s what I’ve done with Ricky. He’s a great centerman, he’s great on draws, he’s a defensive specialist, he has high-end offensive talent and the same goes for Carts. They’re both guys who have played center and know the game well. So, they’re easy to read off of.”
Yesterday, we also posted an in-depth interview with Kings GM Dean Lombardi on MayorsManor. You check out what he had to say about Brown, Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick, etc. by clicking here.
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