Following the Kings 4-3 OT loss to the visiting Minnesota Wild on Thursday night, here’s what LA coach Todd McLellan had to say…
On his impressions of the Kings team so far
One, it was exciting to get back to playing. I think everybody was was looking forward to the night. I think there was ups and downs throughout the game that took us on a bit of an emotional roller coaster, obviously ending with the down part. There were a lot of things we did well in the game, things that we can build off of and then certainly areas that we have to clean up.
On the Kings goals and the areas from where they were scored
They weren’t pretty goals, they were ugly, in the paint, battle-type goals. For us, where we’re looking for more this year — we didn’t get enough last year, offense — those are the type of goals we’re going to need. So we’ll have to continue to improve in that area. At the other end, we’ve got to clean some things up so that we’re not giving up four. We don’t expect the score four every night, we should be able to produce three on a steady basis, but not four. We were on the wrong end of that tonight.
On the penalty kill and special teams as a whole
We worked on both throughout training camp. I thought the early power play was a little bit ragged, the ice was a little sticky, things didn’t go our way. But we got a power play goal, which is really important. And the penalty kill got a lot of work tonight, did a really good job, starting with the goaltender. I’m disappointed that we had to do that much work. I thought we lost a lot of players in the second period that were important in the first because of lack of ice time. I think that affected us a little bit in the third. So clean up the actual penalties, not necessarily the penalty killing, and it would certainly help us.
On what prevented the Kings from stealing the momentum back late in the game
Well they got in the way. They’re a good team. They did a good job forechecking and, quite frankly, I think we brought a lot of pucks back into our own zone when we didn’t need to, I’m thinking of the the second goal in particular. Sometimes you have to give up the puck. You’ve got a punt like they do in a football and live another day. We weren’t prepared to do that in an important time so it cost us.
On Jeff Carter and Andreas Athanasiou bringing speed to the attack
Well the first part, Carts has been good all training camp. He’s finally healthy. I think the extended pandemic layoff certainly helped him with his surgery last year and and recovery over the summer. He’s still a very committed athlete. He worked really hard on his body, on his conditioning. He’s always had the skill, the talent, and the knowledge to put his game forward. Right now, his body is doing a lot for him. He seems to be happy and the speed factor of those two is really important, combined out with the tenacity of Lizotte on the forecheck and keeping plays alive. We think that line can be effective in both ends of the rink.
On Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov
I think his ability without the puck was noticeable, as well. There were situations and times during the night where he read the play, broke it up, and it ended up going the other way. Minnesota’s lucky to have a talented player like that, the NHL is fortunate to have him because he looks like he’s gonna be a tremendous one.
On if the Carter goal late in the first period was off of a set play
We knew what was left, time-wise. It was coming from the left corner, so if we win the draw, Brownie can roll and shoot. If anything goes to the net, we’ve got a righty there for a tap in. We just played the odds with hands, with that amount of time left and we’re lucky it paid off for us in that situation.
On if he cringes on the blind drop passes
Yeah, we do. A lot of times it works, especially power play wise. Obviously, we were ill-advised to make that play at that time and as a result, they scored their fourth goal. That’s just part of bringing the puck back. I believe in overtime, it’s important to bring the puck back sometimes. But you’ve got to make good, smart plays. I was more disappointed in the third period when we kept bringing pucks back When we didn’t need too. We could have gone north and we decided to bring it back south, then play east-west in our own zone, and then pull it out of our net. That’s not gonna work.
On the Doughty-Matta pair
I think they had some good moments, and then there were some obvious moments – I don’t know if you can stack it up to them as a pair. Maybe individually, there are moments that one of them would like to have back. That’s where we’re at. They’ll be better.
On Jonathan Quick tonight
He was pretty sharp. Our penalty kill was, I think 6-for-6 tonight. When that happens, your goaltender is the best penalty killer. Quickie was that guy, so I would call him real sharp. A good start for him and he can leave disappointed that we lost, but I’m sure he’ll feel good about his night for the most part.
On any of the younger players he was impressed with tonight
Mikey Anderson and Matt Roy, I thought they were our most steady pair of defensemen. They made simple plays and defended well. I think he had a real good night. Kale, the first maybe five or six minutes of the night, the ice was really gluey, sticky and it affected him and some others. Once he settled in, I thought he had a strong night. Matt Luff, who unfortunately was taken out of the game in the second period, minutes-wise, because of all the penalties, I thought he had a pretty good night. So there were some good nights. Gabe Vilardi won his share of faceoffs in some key situations and had the puck. Some of the kids had a factor in the game and the outcome.
On seeing the team build some momentum off of Carter’s goal late in the first period
That was important, then for us to come out and gain the lead in the second, throughout all those penalties, I think we had five in the period, so there’s ten minutes worth of penalty kill, half the period we spent short a player. So that period, score-wise and penalty kill-wise, was great. I can tell you, it probably cost us in the third because of the fact that so many players were taken out of that that second frame.
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