Following the Kings 6-3 victory in St. Louis on Sunday, LA coach Todd McLellan shared these comments:
On if the first 40 minutes of the game were the most complete the Kings have played this season
I would say without a doubt. All three zones were solid, we were skating, there was a tenacity to us, we were responsible. I thought it was the first time we took the game to a team rather than receiving it. Obviously we’ve got work to do in the third, but we’ll accentuate all the positives tonight.
On creating goals tonight
We were much better in our end, which allowed us to get on the forecheck. The pieces were all working together. Our forecheck, where maybe the last game was only one to three pieces, tonight it was able to be four or five. The extra piece helped us keep a lot of pucks alive and playing in their end in the first two periods anyhow.
On what he liked most about the game tonight
I liked our start. We weren’t particularly happy with Lizotte’s line last night and we were very honest with them, we did we told them that. We started them they gave us a great first shift — a very aggressive first shift. Then the group followed that, so that was a good sign. I liked the way we broke pucks out of our end against a really strong forechecking team. I thought we managed a neutral zone and passed the puck a lot better. On the negative side, obviously the third period, the little sag that we had. A little bit of panic, that’s not necessary. We should have the same poise we had the first two periods. But we’re expected their push and they gave it to us. In the end, we we held strong.
On Kopitar’s game through six games
I could basically tell you tonight what I’m probably gonna tell you tomorrow and then the next game and the next game because Kopi is so consistent in the things that he does. He commits to both ends of the rink and that allows him to be good at both. I think there’s some great offensive players that cheat to get their offensive and as a result, it hurts the team. That’s never the way Kopi has played and I don’t think he’ll ever finish his career cheating. He sets the tone and when you play the right way, you often get rewarded or your line mates do. In his case, he and his linemates are.
On finding the back of the net with a little more ease at the start of this season
Never east. There’s no such thing as easy for any team in the league. It’s hard to score in the NHL, but I think we have a little more depth. I also think that we are more familiar with the tactics or the structure that we want to play with. So we’re a little bit more predictable. Let’s face it, our power play is further ahead right now than it was last year at this time. I think we’ve scored a goal, or come close to scoring. every game on the power play which which definitely helps us. It gives us some confidence offensively. We’ve scored goals on face-off plays that we never had in place last year, at least in the first half of the season. A lot of it’s just being around each other for a year and a bit now.
On Jonathan Quick making early saves to keep the Kings in the game
I don’t think there’s many nights you win without solid goaltending and Quickie was there for us again. As good as our start was, we did give up some long rushes, a little reminiscent to the beginning of last year, where we got careless and over aggressive. But the goaltender was there to to bail us out and we needed that.
On avoiding the temptation to make even a small roster adjustment
This year, it’s been hard on our staff because it’s hard to tell individuals they’re not playing. We’ve got a lot of extra people around. I think a Jaret Anderson-Dolan has worked his butt off in practice, he’s been one of the best practice players, but we just feel that the lineup we’re putting on the ice gives us the best chance right now. That doesn’t mean he or anybody on the taxi squad or Olli Maatta or Austin Wagner, who didn’t play tonight, aren’t capable of playing in the league. We’re looking for combinations. And when individuals play well, we don’t want to take them out of the lineup. We’re not going to just take fourth liners out because they’re fourth line players and give somebody else a chance. If they’re playing well, we’re going to keep them alive. It’s hard on the staff, it’s really hard on the players too because they look around and they see six or seven extra guys here and they’re probably wondering, ‘When the hell am I going to get my opportunity?’ But that’s the type of year we’re in and that’s how we’re going to have to deal with things.
More postgame comments linked below.
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