Game one is in the books, with the Kings picking up a 5-4 win in overtime.
A few hours from now the two-game series wraps up with a matinee affair in Glendale, AZ.
For some players this will be it, their final game in a Kings jersey. For many others, they’ll be returned to their junior teams over the next week or so and won’t be seen again until next summer’s Developmental Camp. For Corey Elkins, rookie camp will just be the end of another chapter.
His hockey travels have taken him to the USHL, to a top college program, and last season to the Manchester Monarchs – where he led the team in goals and points, as a rookie.
This Saturday, he’ll be one of just a handful of players at the Kings training camp with a legitimate shot at earning a place on the team for the upcoming season.
Today, he helps us get ready for the second and final game in the LA-Phoenix Rookie Series…
First off, the ankle – Muzzin hit you with a puck the first day of camp and you were pretty bruised up – how are you doing now?
Several other Monarchs have been in rookie camp with you this week. However, you also had a chance to check out some players that maybe you haven’t seen before – like guys from the WHL or OHL. Before the team left for Phoenix, was there anybody that stood out to you?
It’s tough to say because a lot of the stuff we’re doing is about structure. It’s not an environment where you can really… it’s hard to say. We have a lot of talent, that’s for sure. Guys are really good with the puck. We have a lot of speed. Guys like Weal, Kozun and Loktionov – they are really skilled players, so those guys have stood out a bit.
In our game one preview yesterday Kyle Clifford also talked about the structure, saying there wasn’t a lot of time spent on scouting the Coyotes like maybe you would before a real game. Do you agree?
Yes. We’ve tried to implement the Kings system and for guys that haven’t seen it, it can be really different. I know for me, my first experience, coming from college, it was really different. That said, you do have to get guys ready for these games too, where there’s tons of hitting and tons of energy. So, you have to internally focus on yourself and the team and make the system work.
You played in the series last year, with the Kings earning a split in the two games. That first game was a rather embarrassing 6-1 loss though. Was that on your mind at all heading into last night?
No, not really. I think one thing we changed up in camp this year is we did a little bit of scrimmaging (on Tuesday). Last year, we didn’t do any. Doing system drills and running through the system drills is one thing – but, actually having the flow of a game and that type of thing makes a big difference. We also did some work on special teams. So, that’s made us better prepared.
These games can also get pretty physical. Did the coaches talk to guys about that as well?
Coach Morris mentioned that it’s just really intense, that guys are trying to make a statement, they want to show their toughness and whatnot.
What have you been trying to accomplish this week as part of the rookie camp?
You just have to take what you talk about in your meeting and try to apply it in every shift. For me, it’s the aggressiveness and to keep my feet moving all the time. I want to showcase my speed and play hard. It starts though with putting the work in over the summer so you’re physically capable.
When the main camp opens up this weekend, there’s probably a spot open on the second line wing and a spot or two open on the fourth line. Knowing that, how will you approach things and do you have your eye on a specific role?
Well, I played center all last year in Manchester. Actually, for my whole life. So, I guess if there’s a role for me to fit into, it would be that center spot. Then you have to think about ‘What is the role of a fourth line center?’ – being defensively responsible, creating energy and being a tough player to play against. So, those type of things are exactly what I’m trying to focus on.
Dean Lombardi mentioned at HockeyFest over the weekend that he’s a traditionalist, wanting a strong center and an enforcer on that fourth line. If you were to become the guy in the middle, your winger would probably be Kevin Westgarth. Did you two play together at all last year?
I think we did play a little bit together. Not too often, but a little bit, yeah. Westie is a real good guy to play with. He has really good poise. He’s really patient and can make good passes.
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Westgarth will join Elkins and the rest of the Kings at the official start of training camp this Saturday.
Elkins will have one more tune-up before then, against the Coyotes at 2pm today.
He didn’t score last night. Perhaps a point or two this afternoon will give him some extra confidence heading into the weekend.
Camping Guide 2010 – Interview with Corey Elkins
High / Low with Corey Elkins – Reflections on rookie season in Manchester, includes word association on teammates
LA-PHX Rookie Game Preview – with Kyle Clifford