Following the Kings 5-3 loss in Minnesota on Thursday, LA coach Todd McLellan shared these comments:
On an update to Sean Walker and Matt Roy’s condition
They’re both seeing doctors and getting evaluated right now. I think they’ll both be able to travel home with us, but obviously two very unfortunate incidents in the game and not something we want to see in the game at all, but I think they’re gonna be okay, eventually.
On the difficulties of refocusing after a scary injury
Of course it is. Never mind one, but two in one night, it really affects everybody. I thought we tried to rally around it to begin with, we weren’t very good before [Matt Roy] got hit and then we started to wake up and play a little bit more. Then when [Sean Walker] took the shot, again, we talked about it, the guys wanted to play for them. I thought we played harder after we lost two guys than we did before. Emotionally, it takes a lot out of a group to see two teammates leave like that.
On how they ended up chasing all game, and the difficulty of playing from behind with a short bench
We didn’t play well the first period, that was pretty evident. I think of the second and the fifth goal for me are so preventable. We have an empty net, we missed a net with one shot, and then the D-man shoots it into somebody else for a breakaway. I don’t know if the goal would have counted due to goalie interference, but at least let’s put him in a situation to make the call and we did neither of those and was in our net after breakaway. That one was really frustrating to see happen. Then the fifth one, we’re crawling back into the game and we just we give the puck away for nothing and it’s in the back of our net. Those are our frustrating goals against, they’re completely preventable, they’re not even really high forced mistakes, you’re not in a real stressful situation, you just make bad decisions. We’ve got to get that out of our game if we want to have any type of success. As far as coming back short staffed, especially on the back end, you can see at the end the guys were bagged and not a lot left in the tank. You play the hand you’re dealt and we weren’t dealt a very good one tonight. We’ll regroup and get better.
On the success of the powerplay this season
Power play has been a work in progress for a year and a half now, and the familiarity’s becoming better. We’re getting a little more creative with some of our looks, players are understanding what we want to create where we want to create from. I thought we did a better job of recovering pucks in today’s game than we did in the first game here in Minnesota, so therefore we were able to sustain a little more pressure. It’s not always the pretty play, often it’s the ugly play after you tire a team out that you score on. We saw that a little bit tonight. Good thing our power play was alive, because we didn’t get much five-on-five. That has to change for us to have success.
On if he is as frustrated as the late Minnesota loss earlier in the season
I think you’re talking about game two in Los Angeles against Minnesota, when we gave up the game with a second left, this was a little bit different. I’m still frustrated, but it’s a hard game to play. We’ve got some younger players that are still learning, sometimes they’re afraid to make mistakes and they end up making them. We just have to keep plugging away as a team and try and clean as many things up as we can and eventually, we’ll get ahead of it. I think we’re way further ahead right now than we were last year. The teacher wants to see the class do well, the teacher always wants to see the class get rewarded for the work they put in. You guys get me 15 minutes after a game, I’m a little bit down, but I’ll go watch it again, there’s so many good things that our group is doing. We just need to do it a little bit more, we need to clean some things up, and we’ll win more than we lose eventually, it’ll just take some time.
On when they made the decision to keep Andreas Athanasiou out of the lineup tonight
Well, it’s been a messed-up day from for a minute one really to tell you the truth. I got to call at about 6:30 this morning, notified that that Andreas [Athanasiou] was positive, and then the whole thing kicked into place. Our pre-game skate was screwed up because there was a number of other guys through contact tracing that had to get re-tested, we had the taxi squad ready to go, we found out late that the players were going to be available to us. That whole thing was, it’s funny. I was lying to you guys at noon when we talked about “were we going to make any changes to the roster”, we knew then, but I didn’t know if it was going to be six or one or anything like that. Talked about bumps and bruises and having to get an update that I had that information then, but I didn’t know what I could share with you, and that’s how messed up the day was as far as Covid goes. We’re not in a normal world, we’re lucky we get to be doing the things we’re doing right now, and we’ll take care of each other and come back and play again.
On any clarity he can provide on the word ‘positive’ he used with Athanasiou
To go into the protocol. Again, you guys asked me these type of questions and I told you about a week ago – I can’t even freaking answer them. I don’t know if he’s positive. He’s in protocol.
On how long Athanasiou has to stay in Minnesota
He won’t fly with us tonight, that’s all I can tell you right now. I don’t know. I appreciate you asking the question, but I really don’t know the answers to those questions. I’d like to give you the answer, but I’d probably mislead you anyhow.
On when he knew they would not require the services of the taxi squad for tonight’s game
A little later in the day, after I’d already done the media with you. I think I did at 12:30 at this time, it was later on in the afternoon. We had an excited taxi group because they were getting prepared to play. But, the others, through contact tracing and extra testing, were cleared. I’m happy to see that because we’re playing a game, and it’s important that we do our best, but the health of all of our players and families comes before anything.
On the Fiala hit, looked like a shove into the boards that wasn’t necessary
You described it perfect. It’ll be on multiple videos, teaching clips for young players, older players, junior players, pro players, on basically what not to do. I feel bad for Roy. I don’t even know if there’s any intent on on the Fiala thing, it just happened, But we have to know by now we can’t do that.
On Doughty playing 30+ minutes tonight and if he stepped up accordingly
Absolutely. All four of them. Drew has the experience and he’s been able to run at a high minute level for his whole career. I thought tonight was one of his better games. He was very aggressive all over the rink, both offensively and defensively. He had an energy and a passion that rubbed off on the rest. He showed the remaining three defensemen that they were OK and they could do it. That’s what you you call leadership in that situation.
On how the Athanasiou situation earlier in the day have upset routines players normally have on game day
It throws everything off. We normally have a power play meeting at the pregame skate in the morning and we didn’t have that. We had very few players here available at the pregame skate. It shows everything off. I’m gonna tell everybody this again, this is the world we’re in. We should expect this. We started the season without three players. There are other teams that are going through it. We agreed and chose to enter this type of environment, we have to deal with it, so move on. Let’s make the best of it and it won’t last time it happens, so adapt and play.
On taking his coach’s hat off and empathizing with the team after the injuries tonight
My gut felt Like the rest of them. You take the Matt Roy hit, you know it was bad, but you look on the bench and you look at the replay and you’re going ‘Holy shit! That is bad. Is he okay?’ Finally, when he gets to the bench and he’s hauled off, you’re a little bit relieved, but you just don’t feel right after that. Then, obviously the Walks one, the same thing. There’s so many more people involved in injuries than just the player themselves and teammates. There’s families watching at home, there’s parents, girlfriends, wives, children. It’s a tough game and sometimes it doesn’t go your way and it’s really unfortunate that people have to experience that.
Minnesota’s Kevin Fiala will have a hearing today for Boarding Los Angeles’ Matt Roy.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) January 29, 2021
More postgame comments linked below.
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