When the Kings brought top draft picks Tobias Bjornfot, Arthur Kaliyev, Rasmus Kupari, and Akil Thomas to Rookie Camp this year, it was a safe bet to assume one of them would be the standout star for the club at this year’s NHL Rookie Faceoff. Not so fast, though. It was college free agent Blake Lizotte who stole the show.
Following his three-assist performance vs. the Avalanche on Sunday, he came back in Game 3 on Tuesday to score LA’s first goal of the game and later assist on another one.
Put quite simply, he was all over the ice throughout the tournament and never seemed to stop working.
“Lizotte was off-the-charts good in these three games,” said coach Mike Stothers.
And in talking to other members of management, the general thought was if a team MVP could have been awarded, it would easily go to Lizotte.
Yet, the 5-foot-7 center wasn’t quite ready to take it all in when we spoke after the Kings 7-3 loss vs. the Sharks on Tuesday.
“Obviously I’m happy with being able to hold myself accountable and I’m pretty hard on myself when it comes to my play. There are a few things I thought I could have done better over the tournament actually; like turning the puck over. I turned it over a few times on our blueline and that’s not my game. Getting that out in preseason, before the main camp, is helpful,” he explained. “But yeah, it’s disappointing winning only one of the three games. Overall, I was happy with our team’s game on Sunday, but today we fell short in the first period. The second and third period felt good – I actually thought we outplayed them in the second and the third period was pretty even, so I think our slow start was what killed us.”
Like Stothers and several others commented to us about, that slow start was a killer. And it’s something that the younger players need to adjust for moving forward, especially if they want to be successful at the pro level.
“A lot of these guys are just turning pro, including myself, so that’s something you have to learn is how to be a pro, showing up to the rink ready to play whether its 1:00, 7:00 or 3:00, Sunday night or Friday morning, you’ve got to be ready. I think that’s part of becoming a pro and getting that maturity process of coming to the rink everyday and getting ready to play. I think we fell a little bit short on that today.”
With the tournament now over, all attention turns to the main portion of training camp beginning Friday. Although it’s a bit of a longshot given how few roster spots are available at forward, Lizotte isn’t thinking about his odds of making the Kings big club just yet.
“I have no expectations,” he immediately remarked, when we asked about his approach heading into the next phase of camp. “I’m showing up and working hard every day and we’ll see what happens. I’ve always been a person where I bring my work boots every day. Whether you’re up or down, in Minnesota or California, you bring your work boots and you try to play the same and get better every day. That’s my mentality right now; show up to the rink and get better every day.”
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