Kings' Sutter plays it coy regarding matchup
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It's been the storyline of all storylines heading into Saturday's opener of the Western Conference finals: the Blackhawks' speed vs. the Kings' size.
Only one problem: Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter isn't buying the premise.
"I think if you actually look at it, their lineup in their last game and the lineup we had in our last game is identical," he said. "So the size is the same, so I guess we have a problem with their speed."
OK, then how do you deal with the Hawks' speed?
"Use our size," Sutter deadpanned.
Ok, how about this: the Hawks' speed and skill vs. the Kings size and skill?
"Everybody's fast, everybody's big," Sutter said. "I think both teams got to this point because they have some size and they have some speed."
After a pair of rough-and-tumble series against St. Louis and San Jose, is it fair to say the Kings haven't faced a team as skilled and speedy as the Hawks?
"Maybe not as small and as quick, but it's not going to change a whole lot in terms of what we have to do to be successful," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "We still want to be a physical team.
"We still want to put pucks in good places where we can forecheck, and at the end of the day spend as much time in their zone as we can and make them defend.
"We all know they have some real mobile defensemen and the next thing you know you're defending in your own zone, so you want to make it hard on them and be physical against them."
For L.A.'s all-everything goalie Jonathan Quick, the worry is more about what the Hawks have up front than who's along the blue line.
"For me, my concern is the depth of their forwards," Quick said. "You think about the big four there with (Marian) Hossa, (Jonathan) Toews, (Patrick) Kane and (Patrick) Sharp. Those are four guys who can all shoot the puck really well.
"They've got not just their top two lines, but all four lines are very skilled and dangerous. They're a great team front to back. We definitely have our work cut out for us."
"They're a highly skilled team and I think the way we're going to counter that is to be quick in our end when they do dump pucks in — get pucks out of our end so we're spending more time in their zone."
And that means making use of the Kings' size and physicality as often as possible, whenever possible.
"The challenge that Chicago poses is they've got some big guys on their team and they also rely on their speed and quickness, so for us to be successful in our physical aspect, we need to put pucks in good spots and make it hard on them," Kings captain Dustin Brown said.
"They've got a lot of good puck moving defensemen, so it's a matter of putting pucks in the right spot."
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