Following the Kings 3-1 loss to the Ducks on Tuesday night at home, LA coach Todd McLellan shared these comments:
On how much the team missed Matt Roy, Sean Walker, Andreas Athanasiou, and Blake Lizotte tonight
Well, that plays a factor in in the game, it certainly does. Those guys have experienced, they stabilize lines. You’re missing two of your top six defensemen, but that doesn’t excuse the competitiveness that we showed up with in the execution that we showed up with tonight. There are still 20 capable players of playing a lot better than they did tonight, so that’s disappointing.
On Gabe Vilardi’s faceoff struggles, and potential regression in his game
I don’t know. That’s a two-part question, you started with faceoffs, so the only way he’s gonna get better is practicing, which we’ve actually talked about, and continuing to put them out there. I just think there’s more to his game than we have seen. You can’t start with a goal and work backwards, you got to start with all the work in the grind, and the skating, and being ahead of the play mentally, physically, and then the goal comes. It’s part of being a young player, learning how to do it, it doesn’t come easy. Sometimes you’re misled by the beginning of your career when things go your way, and you think it’s going to be easy. I don’t know if any of that’s going through Gabe’s [Vilardi] head, but he’s certainly a better player than we’re seeing right now. It’s a tough league, the NHL’s a tough, tough league.
On what was missing from the game offensively that led to a very low number of shots
Well 20 players, they were better than us in every aspect of the game. To get whatever we did, 20 shots on goal, was actually fortunate for us. We didn’t have the puck much off the faceoffs, we didn’t execute when we won, we didn’t handle a heavy forecheck, we didn’t create a forecheck on our own, we didn’t sustain any offensive zone time at all, so that pretty much sums up all you end up on the short end of a of a shot total.
On what he liked and didn’t like from Arthur Kaliyev’s debut
There’s nothing that I didn’t like. He’s a young player, he was excited to play, the guys were excited for him, that gave us a little bit of life and a little bit of energy. When a 19-year-old can come in and do that, he’s obviously dangerous when he’s got the puck in and around the net, he had some other chances, more than that a lot of our other forwards that that played tonight. A good start for him, and he’ll learn his way through the league, and it’ll be no different than Gabe [Vilardi], it’s a hard league. It’s not going to come easy, and that’s part of cutting your teeth.
On if he relies on non-veteran, non-rookie players for leadership with many rookies playing
Some of these young kids, I consider Gabe [Vilardi] and [Arthur Kaliyev] young kids, but [Kale] Clague and [Carl] Grundstrom and those type of players, they’ve been in the organization for a little while. They may be young when it comes to NHL career, but they’re not young to pro-experience. They’ve got to find a way to contribute, the leadership has to be better. We’ve got to be better prepared and ready to play. That falls on the coaching leadership. I fall into that that pot too, if you want to call it that. We can’t use injuries or COVID as an excuse, the whole freaking league is going through it, so get over it. Show up and play.
On the play of Cal Peterson tonight
Our best player and we’re lucky we had him in there tonight.
On the troubles breaking out of the defensive zone and connecting on passes
Well, they threw a heavy forecheck at us and we didn’t handle that initial eyes up play. We get the puck and we get our eyes up and we’ve got to make that first clean pass and then connect from there on the way out. We couldn’t make the first one, so don’t worry about the second or third, they didn’t exist. Even when we had open ice, I thought we would telegraph a lot, they could read off of our vision, get sticks in the way. Even them being the rival, we have to get them credit. They played a hell of a game. They were in good position, they played hard, they did what they needed to win. They got in the way and we didn’t have an answer for it. A lot to work on.
On if COVID absences and other guys missing from lineups makes it harder to scout teams this year
They’re all dealing with it, as well. Most teams have an identity or a set of characteristics that they don’t stray from, regardless of who they put in. Vegas is a tremendous team, offensively they can make you pay for mistakes, they’ve got some pace. There isn’t a weakness in their game. So we can look ahead three days, but we’re certainly not going to do that. We’re going to try to fix what we have here and clean up a lot of things. We’ll worried about Vegas on Friday.
On the current identity of the LA Kings
Are you talking overall, like where we’re at 10 games in or are you talking tonight? Because tonight was nowhere near what we’re supposed to be. We’re a hard, organized team to play against. We’re a team that’s growing. We rely on structure to protect each other and get the most out of what we have. When we’re playing well, all those things are fitting in together. Tonight, we didn’t have any of that. As a result, you could see us hemmed in our own end for minutes at a time and really no push back at all, as far as offense goes. When you don’t play to your identity and you don’t execute well, it doesn’t matter who you are, you take it on the chin.
On showing patience throughout the season, then mixing things up midgame tonight
I liked the combinations we came into the game with. I didn’t like the performance of the combinations 25 or 30 minutes in, whatever it might have been. There wasn’t a line that really had anything going, so it was time to shuffle it up. We actually went to three lines for a while to see if that would kick start some individuals. At the end of the day it didn’t. When you’re short that many players, it doesn’t matter what you do.
More postgame comments linked below.
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