For the first time this season, the Kings picked up three points in a two-game series when they defeated the visiting San Jose Sharks on Thursday night by a score of 6-2. Following the game, LA coach Todd McLellan shared these comments:
On the dominant play during the second period as a blueprint for how this team should play
Structurally, we played well. Everybody was important, we had the opportunity to roll four lines. I thought we played aggressively, we kept plays alive, you look at the [Jaret] Anderson-Dolan line, they were effective in the first game forechecking, but they didn’t keep much alive. Today, they kept plays alive in the offensive zone, they were rewarded twice. When you can effectively use four lines and six defensemen and they feel confident, it makes a world of difference.
On stressing a strong start to the team pregame
No more than I have in the past. It just sometimes works your way and sometimes it doesn’t. We were aggressive right off the bat, we won the initial face off, it was the exact opposite of what happened to us the other day. We won it, we were able to get in on the forecheck, create an opportunity on the powerplay right off the bat and then score. Powerplay played a big factor in the game, it gave us the cushion we needed. It was the nail in the coffin, but you could see when it got sloppy how it also cost us in the second period. Still a lot to work on, but it’s rewarding to win a game, the guys deserved it.
On the development of the forecheck, and if he takes pride in its progression
Not so much me how proud it makes me; how good it makes the players feel. They put a lot of work into it, and we haven’t seen it a lot this year, we’ve been more in the receiving end, so tonight when we were able to use it and create against a pretty good breakout team, they have a lot of rehearsed breakouts, but we created opportunities for our ourselves and we found a way to finish them, two in around the net so that was nice to see.
On Tobias Björnfot’s first game of the season, and his stretch pass to Austin Wagner
[Tobias Björnfot’s] play was really good. For a young player, of course he’s had a year in the in the American League, but he came in and he knows his range now. He knows where he fits in speed wise, how quick he needs to make plays, and how much time he has to make plays. He was really good in the game tonight, so that was nice to see. The stretch play was probably as much a clearing play as it was a pass. [Austin] Wagner was stepping out of the box, but Toby had the sense to know where he was as far as the shift goes and how close he is to the end of the penalty kill to at least throw that puck to that area, so good for him and good for [Wagner] to put it in.
On pairing Tobias Björnfot and Kale Clague together with their lack of NHL experience
We can sit there in the morning and we can look for ways to make it not work. We can talk about inexperience, and other teams don’t have this or whatever it might be, but it doesn’t work that way. You play the hand you’re dealt, so we have to show that we’re confident in the group and we played [Björnfot] last year with Drew Doughty for the first three games on the road against some pretty good players, think about Calgary, Vancouver, and Edmonton, sort of throw him in tonight and put him in the second pair, we felt pretty good about that. In turn, he gave us a pretty good game.
On the importance of veterans addressing younger players about expectations for the team
Well, I think it’s essential. Good teams have that, and I don’t think we have a shortage of leadership in any way shape or form. In fact, I think there’s an overabundance with those five veterans that are here. They’re quality human beings, they work their butts off in practice, there’s nobody cheating the team or the game. All of those things are very comforting when you come to the rink and the words they use in the locker room are really important, but the good leadership has to have good followers, and when the younger players are listening and learning, that’s just as valuable as the good leadership. Tonight, it was a combination of everybody.
On the ice time for Kempe-Vilardi-Carter line received tonight
Well, the opposition with Couture and Hertl, those two lines are their primary lines. They have some size with Hertl down low and Kopi and Gabe are our two bigger centers, so we wanted them on the ice against one of those two lines, either Couture or Hertl, it didn’t matter which one. San Jose played those two lines a lot, so it allowed us to play our two lines a lot. All six players on the two lines, Kopitar’s line and Gabe’s line, did a good job tonight against that group.
On if he continued to like what he saw from the Grunstrom-JAD-Moore line
Absolutely. We sat with the threesome after game one and we showed them their effectiveness on a forecheck, how well they were doing. But it was the next phase after that, we’ve got the forecheck, can we keep a play alive now and make something occur off of it. Where our outs, what can we do with pucks, and tonight they did a good job of not only the forecheck but what they did off after possession.
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