Stothers Breaks Down Reign Loss, Dishes on Clague, Injuries

It’s been a tough season all around for the Los Angeles Kings. They find themselves near the bottom of the NHL standings and their AHL affiliate in Ontario hasn’t fared much better. After a drubbing at the hands of the Colorado Eagles on Tuesday night, we caught up with Reign head coach Mike Stothers to get his thoughts on the game they played, having a young and inexperienced core of defenseman, his reaction to losing Kale Clague to injury and more.

On the 5-1 loss to Colorado on Tuesday evening:

“Well, I didn’t think we were very good. We were slow, and slow with everything we did – whether it was going back for pucks, or moving our feet, or making passes. Then, you compounded the problem by having a lot of turnovers in all three zones. We were chasing a very fast team all night long. It certainly wasn’t the type of game that we wanted. If you look at the first two shifts, they had us hemmed in pretty good with a good forecheck. They were good at getting pucks in behind us and making us turn to go back and get them. We weren’t very good at getting pucks behind them and making them turn. It was a game of chase, and you don’t win those ones.”

On what he attributes the loss to:

“Well, I mean, you can over-analyze it all you want. Yeah, you can say the altitude. Yeah, you can say [we’re] in the middle of a [road] trip. But, other teams come in here and [have] to deal with the altitude, other teams have road trips, and you’re in the middle of it. I can’t put my finger on it. I guess if you can say anything, it wasn’t just one or two guys. I didn’t think any of us were any good. You know we’ll be better tomorrow, or most of the guys will be better tomorrow. You know what? Things have been pretty good for us, so maybe this is exactly what we needed to get back on track and dial back in and realize, you know what, we need to continue playing a certain way. When we don’t, you know what? It makes for a long night.”

On lacking a veteran voice on the blueline:

“It’s more than just a voice. It’s going out and settling things down when things are going a little chaotic. We had some success in Tucson, but we played most of the first game with five D, because Clague got hurt. In the second game, we were with the same inexperienced [defensive] group. Sooner or later, it’s going to catch up to you. You can’t expect that they’re going to keep playing above maybe their level or what they’re ready for. But, our forwards were much better for them in those games [in Tucson]. When you get just over your own blueline and you’re turning pucks over, that’s not helping those guys. We spent too much time retreating and trying to recover pucks. The onus is on everybody to manage the puck better, and we didn’t. We put a lot of stress on a young, inexperienced D. If you look, it’s a big difference, say you were fortunate enough to grab (Kurtis) MacDermid, (Matt) Roy, and (Sean) Walker – that changes your back end dramatically. But we don’t want them. They’re playing with the Kings, so let ’em keep playing with the Kings. Now, it’s up to these guys. (Alex) Lintuniemi is probably our most experienced presence back there. We’ve got some younger guys – (Daniel) Brickley’s just back. I think, in the long run, this is only going to benefit those guys; but you’re going to experience nights like this for them. It’s part of the growing pains.”

On Brickley and Chaz Reddekopp, who were both injured blocking shots Tuesday night:

“Well… they both got hit in the head! One above the shoulders and the other below the belt line. And I can tell you, they both hurt like hell.”

On recently losing Kale Clague to a broken foot:

“It was a shame for Kale. We really feel good about where Kale was headed. And who knows – maybe, things were going so well, maybe he gets a look with the Kings as they wind down their season. I don’t know for certain, but with the way things are going, they’re trying to have a look at some players of the future, maybe that would have worked out. Even having that said, he was logging a lot of minutes with us; he was playing in all situations. You encourage your guys to block shots. On the PK, he blocks a shot, breaks his foot, now he’s going to be out for four to six weeks. It’s a shame. It really is. I guess it’s kind of typical of the way things have gone for the Kings organization this year. But you know what? He did it doing the right thing – that’s blocking a shot on the PK. It’s been a good first year for Kale. It just would have been nice to see it go a little bit longer for him.”

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