Back in training camp, there was talk of the LA Kings making a push for the playoffs. With several early season losses, that conversation quickly dissipated. Now, the tide has turned once again. With a sweep of the Coyotes in Arizona, LA is back into a playoff spot — not a secure one, as things will still be a dog fight moving forward — yet, there’s no denying the Kings are on a mini hot streak right now.
Following the team’s big win, coach Todd McLellan shared the following thoughts:
On if the patience Mikey Anderson showed on setting up Trevor Moore’s shorthanded goal was taught or natural
I wish I had the answer to that. I think some players understand it and get it. I think others have to learn it, and some never get it. How’s that for an answer? I didn’t help you one bit.
On if he was thinking ‘shoot’ when Gabe Vilardi had the puck leading to his game-winning goal
Absolutely, I think the whole bench was. I didn’t think that we got a lot of pucks to [Darcy] Kuemper early in the game. The other team did a really good job of checking tonight. Arizona defended really well, they didn’t give us anything. It was a patient game. We kept talking about that – ‘Don’t get impatient, don’t get impatient.’ Eventually it went our way, but we did shoot the puck and we needed to do that more. It was a good learning night for us to be in that type of game, from minute one, all the way through. Hopefully, we’ll be better for it down the road.
On the importance of special teams’ goals in a game with few chances
Well, it was huge because we gave up two on the power play. At the end of the day, all of those special teams’ goals cancelled each other out. It was the 5-on-5 goal that made the difference. The power play did a good enough job tonight to score a goal. It was off a rush or an entry, which we haven’t had many like that. The penalty kill, I thought we overworked ourselves again with a couple penalties we didn’t need to take, but we did take them. Even the last one, we got a young d-man with the puck on his tape, and it didn’t go his way. He waited a little too long to make a play, but that’s all part of learning. The fact that we’re able to score one power play and one shorty obviously makes a huge difference for our group.
On if he is seeing momentum carry from game-to-game over the last five games
Yes, and we’ve been able to insert different players into different roles because of injuries or whatever, and those players seem to step up. It was a four-line game again for most of the night. Everybody contributed, all six D played and were effective, that’s always a good thing. You gain confidence with wins and you lose confidence when you lose games. Having a bit of swagger, without arrogance, is always a good thing as a hockey club. I don’t think we’re anywhere near arrogance, perhaps we have a little bit of swagger. We believe in each other. Let’s face it, none of these wins were easy, nor will they be going forward and they shouldn’t be, it’s the NHL.
On appreciating the overall contributions of Drew Doughty, and his play to help set up the shorthanded goal
Well, 30-32 minutes a night, we appreciate Drew’s ability. He’s really had an outstanding season, in my mind, so far – both offensively, defensively, leadership-wise. Everything about his game right now is in a really good spot. Not only has he been able to take care of himself on the ice, but he’s been able to manage playing with a young defenseman for a lot of the season right now and he’s making him a better player. On that particular play, it certainly started in our end, and with the kill of the rush and him jumping into to kill it, then the others took advantage of it from there.
On comparing the Kings team that lost four in a row earlier this season to the team that just won four in a row
Let’s keep in mind when we lost four in a row, we were going through a lot of adversity with injuries. There were a lot of young defensemen in that lineup playing their first game, playing their second, third, fourth game. Doesn’t mean they can’t play, but it can be overwhelming when you’re going into Vegas and you can’t manage their minutes properly. You’re just throwing them to the wolves. So, I don’t know if that was the real team. I don’t know if we’re the real team now. I just know that we’re evaluating from day-to-day and that’s it. We’re gonna have to get better, we’re gonna have to learn a lot of lessons as we go. We’re getting pretty good goaltending right now, special teams have been pretty good. So, I’d like to think that we can continue to have success, but if we get knocked down, we have to pick ourselves up and keep working. That’s instilled in the team right now. I don’t expect that to change at all from now through the end of the season and as we move forward.
On if the similarities between the Coyotes and Blues helps set up the team for their trip to St. Louis
I haven’t even thought that far ahead, but it’s a good point that you make. Our pre-scouts for these games against Arizona were obviously [from their games vs.] St. Louis. They played seven in a row and those were close, tight checking games. Both teams played well in them. If anything, it helps us because we’ve watched them play. We’ve played two games against St. Louis already. They were hard, heavy games. They’re gonna be that way again. Perhaps the answer to your question is, yes – maybe it will help us.
On avoiding the temptation to look at the standings and see where the Kings are tonight
We always do. Who’s kidding? We know where we’re sitting. We know where we are, we know where we want to go. Just when we’re not playing well and we’re near the bottom, we lie to you and we tell you we don’t even look at the standings, but we always know where we are. That’s just the way it is.
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