Following the Kings 5-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday night, LA coach Todd McLellan shared these comments:
On his pregame optimism of a bounce back effort tonight, and what went wrong in the first period tonight
Their speed overwhelmed us early, that’s pretty evident. The transition from offense to defense, and their defenseman jumping into the rush, our [defensemen] handling anything outside with any type of pace, we did a poor job. It took us quite a while to adapt to it and by then it was too late.
On if the game was more about the Kings not facing a team with Vegas’ speed yet, or if it was a lackluster effort
I didn’t mind our compete, and our battle was was a lot better today than it was against Anaheim a few days ago. The commitment to playing was good, sometimes you just got to recognize what’s coming at you and know your range — as far as pace and foot speed. We made some poor decisions diving in on 50/50 pucks and they skated right by us. The other night, we were very upset; all of us — players, coaches — at the effort we put in. Today, we made mistakes. And mistakes are repairable over time. Some of the younger players that saw this speed coming at them, it was tough. Some of the older players that should have known better also got caught, but we’ll fix it as we go.
On the aggressive pinches from defensemen throughout the season, and how to address it as a coaching staff
It’s tough because you’re playing on your toes offensively and you’re looking at finding a rebound, maybe putting it in, and all of a sudden, it pops up and they’re going the other way. Some of that is reading the situation, knowing how deep you are in a shift — if you’re tired, you’re not gonna catch people– picking the right spot. You mentioned maybe it’s happened three or four times during the season, that’s not a bad ratio. It happens to a lot of teams, including this one that we played tonight. I still think we can do a much better job. That goal was disappointing because we were diving in on something that isn’t there. If you’re diving in, you have to have better than a 50/50 chance at keeping something alive or a scoring opportunity. If they’re not better than 50/50, we may have to pull out and live another day.
On Austin Strand’s NHL debut
I thought he, like everybody, once we calculated the pace of the game and how it was gonna be played with their forwards streaking down the wall, I thought he adapted well and defended well. He is dangerous in the offensive zone, [he] had a shot block that led to a penalty, but it closes on you a little bit quicker at this level. He learned that tonight. He was just fine.
On the importance of tonight’s game for Austin Wagner’s confidence
It was probably his best game of the season. I thought he was aggressive, he was skating, he drew a penalty, created turnovers on the forecheck. That’s what he needs to be doing. Now we saw where he was last year, hopefully he’s back to stay at that level and that pace. That’s a positive; there’s some things that we worked on in practice yesterday that we saw up here in the game, which was a real positive sign. There’s some good things we can take out of the game. Obviously, down 4 or 5-0 is not one of them. And getting beat with speed is the other. Those are things that we have to fix with the players that we have and we’ll do it.
On a preliminary update on Martin Frk, who suffered a lower body injury at the end of the second period
He left and didn’t return. It didn’t look good. I’m sure he’s gonna be out for a little while. That’s my visual. I haven’t received an update from the trainer.
On how challenging it is having to teach the inexperienced players how to play in the NHL, yet not getting results on the scoreboard
Well, we’ve got to find other ways to recognize their successful shifts. We have to recognize it, we have to acknowledge it, make sure that they know we’re catching them doing things right. We have to make sure that we acknowledge the group as a whole for their effort. Again, they didn’t quit tonight. That was positive. We talked about that between the second and third. Right now, the six or seven defensemen that we’re playing, there’s a lot of inexperience back there and I believe it’s showing. We just have to keep playing them. They have to learn and they have to cut their teeth in the league. Until we buy time to get a couple veterans back there — and you can see the difference that they make, and by no means is that putting a spotlight on the young defensemen and accusing them of having the inability to play. It’s just that it’s a tough league to learn on the fly. When you have one guy doing it, that’s it’s not a bad thing. When you have four or five on the back end, it’s a tough, tough thing. We got better as the night went on, but the start wasn’t where we needed it to be and hopefully on Sunday it’s better.
LA will either need to import experience on the blueline or allow their young D to continue to get experience. #PlayTheKids in full swing on D right now, as three defensemen in Kings starting 6 have the following NHL games played:
And another guy with 97 GP
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) February 6, 2021
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