Now in his second NHL season, Blake Lizotte continues to draw praise from teammates and coaches. Recently, Todd McLellan has talked quite a bit about the 23-year-old center’s non-stop tenacity when he’s on the ice, and the fact that it’s contagious to the point others want to play with him.
LA’s bench boss has also been honest enough to say he wasn’t happy with Lizotte’s line a few games back – something the coach addressed and then saw an immediate change next time out.
Coming off of two wins in their last three games, the Kings are starting to build a little momentum. And being back home in the state of Minnesota is bringing an extra layer of comfort for Lizotte, who played his college hockey at St. Cloud State and grew up in Lindstrom, MN.
Positivity is the one thing he usually brings to an interview and this week was no different.
Lizotte on memories from playing his first game in Minnesota last year
I think it was fun to have all my friends and family there. Obviously, in a non-COVID season, everyone was able to come to the game. The support from my hometown was pretty cool, to see the Lakes are fully behind me wherever I go, especially when I’m in Minnesota, you get a lot of people coming to the game. I think that was the coolest part for me, just seeing all the support from people I grew up with and friends and family and people from my hometown was pretty cool.
On playing close to home again, but without family and friends around on this trip
It’s definitely frustrating at times. [Monday],we had an off day and I’m about 45 minutes from home, so it’s pretty tough not to see anyone and not make a trip home real quick. At the end of the day, though, it’s about safety for everyone. I think it’s good to be back playing and it’s a sacrifice that we all have to make, but it’s worth it for sure.
On how he would evaluate his line through the early part of the season
Overall, I think I have a pretty good feel for both [Jeff Carter] and [Andreas Athanasiou]. We play with a lot of speed and I feel we’ve been fairly effective for the most part. Our first game in St. Louis was definitely our worst game, but we bounced back that next day with a good effort. I think for us, it’s important with our forecheck, with our speed, I think that if we get on the forecheck and create turnovers, that’s where a lot of our offense will come from. I think for the most part we’ve done a pretty good job of that.
On getting better starts after allowing the first goal in all six games
I don’t know if there’s a stat out there, but it’s super important to get that first goal. I think whoever gets the first goal wins a majority of the time, so that’s definitely something we’ve been talking about. I think it’s important to emphasize how important it is to be mentally ready to start the game. When that puck drops, we need to be mentally checked in on both sides of the puck, offensively and defensively. Staying mentally engaged is the most important thing.
On if he has seen a goal longer than Drew Doughty’s 200-ft empty-net goal the other night
That was pretty fun to watch actually. We play PGA golf together on Xbox and I gave him a joke after, I said ‘You played the draw on that one, started right, and worked it left.’ That was pretty fun to watch go in and we were all chomping at the bit for it to cross that goal line.
On Todd talking to his line after that first game in St. Louis and how he felt about their response
You have to hold each other accountable, and we didn’t have our best game in St. Louis on Saturday. We are all professionals; we know we need to be better after a tough game. I think even going without that talk, we all knew we had to be better. Having a talk with coach McClellan just definitely reassures that we do need to be better and come out strong. I was really happy with the way we responded. We felt we still need to clean up a few things throughout our game, but for my most part, we were able to compete and create some chances, so I was happy with it overall.
During the offseason, we had Lizotte on Kings Of The Podcast and it was one of the better received episodes. People really enjoyed hearing him open up and tell his backstory. Check it out at the link below.
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Lead photo via Getty Images / LA Kings