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Verbal barbs beginning to fly between Kings, Sharks

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- The only thing surprising about the verbal bricks lobbed between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks lately is that it took this long for it to materialize publicly.

After four intense Stanley Cup Playoff games, the in-state and division rivals cranked up their annoyance for each other before Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Thursday at Staples Center (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

The Kings responded to accusations by Sharks forward TJ Galiardi that L.A. goalie Jonathan Quick is embellishing contact near him in his crease. Sharks forward Logan Couture accused Kings captain Dustin Brown of diving after a collision between the two in Game 4.

Brown claimed indifference, but responded in his answer.

"We're not worried about what they're saying," Brown said at the morning skate Thursday. "I think it's kind of ironic considering the first series they were in [against the Vancouver Canucks], they were being accused of that and now they're whining about it. [Quick] plays hard. I think to some extent, they're crowding his crease. That's the way the game is now, right? They protect the goalies a lot more than they used to. The game has changed."

Quick has had moments on the edge in this series, and actually has gone over it with a game misconduct penalty at the end of Game 3 for barking at the officials after Couture's overtime goal. In Game 4, Quick delivered a jab at Sharks forward Tommy Wingels.

Galiardi told reporters Wednesday that Quick was embellishing because "you skate by and you don't even touch him, or you barely even touch him, and he's throwing his hands in the air."

Quick was not available to the media Wednesday or Thursday and likely wouldn't have much comment. Teammate and well-known loose cannon Drew Doughty didn't hold back when speaking to the Los Angeles Times, though, when relayed Galiardi's comments.

"It's not even playoff talk," Doughty said. "It's just funny to even hear that from a guy who is the biggest diver on their team. Like it's just ridiculous he can even say that, to be honest.

"But I don't want to get involved in that stuff. I don't think you have to watch many [San Jose] games. You can just watch three of his shifts and you'll see how many times he dives. There's been times where even the refs are telling him, just get up, because he's diving so often."

Brown said he didn't think there was much embellishment going on by either side in the series, and "considering all the talk of embellishment in the last series, there would be enough talking about that." He chalked a lot of it up to postseason gamesmanship. Brown said he doesn't mind having a goalie with an edge or a low tolerance for the stray defender in his crease.

Quick is known to throw an arm or leg out at forwards navigating around him behind the net. He also might be the goalie most likely to get into a fight. But Brown said it's a controlled temper.

"He's a guy who can keep his emotions in check," Brown said. "As much as he's on edge, he's focused on doing his job, and that's stopping the puck. You can see that in his mentality. It's a matter of dealing with certain things in the right way. At this point in the series, it's about winning games.

"That's part of playoff hockey, is using different tactics at different times and trying to gain any advantage you can, whether it's physical or mental. A lot of that probably goes unseen, right? It's one of the small battles throughout the game and throughout the series."

Quick has allowed seven goals in four games, including a shutout in Game 1. If San Jose is getting under his skin, it's not really showing on the scoreboard.

Are the Sharks making him more uncomfortable?

"It's tough to say," Couture said. "He's only given up two goals in each of the last two games. He's still tough to score on. It's not like we're scoring five or six on him. He's still making big saves. We still got to go to the net, get traffic in front of him. We're getting chances. Guys just aren't scoring right now on our chances. That's got to change."

Couture is good friends with Doughty -- the two were youth hockey teammates from London, Ontario -- and in a lighter turn half-jokingly needled Doughty on his baseball loyalty. Both are Toronto Blue Jays fans, although Couture said, "Drew doesn't follow the team. He pretends he does. He's just in it for the looks. He doesn't know anything about the team."

How many players can Doughty name on the Blue Jays?

"Probably seven, I think he would," Couture said. "Probably because he's met most of the guys. But he couldn't name the new guys this year. No chance."

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