In advance of opening a two-game set vs. the visiting San Jose Sharks, Kings coach Todd McLellan had his team return to the ice today for the first time since they returned home to Southern California.
LA Kings PROJECTED lineup for Game 12 vs. the San Jose Sharks
Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown
Wagner – Amadio – Carter
Andersson – Vilardi – Kempe
Grundstrom – Anderson-Dolan – Moore
Anderson – Doughty
MacDermid – Clague
Bjornfot/Maatta – Strand
Other players available:
Martin Frk (injured)
Matt Roy (IR)
Sean Walker (IR)
Plus, the Taxi Squad is officially listed as – Mark Alt, Markus Phillips, Boko Imama, and Jacob Ingham.
Martin Jones is scheduled to start in net for the San Jose Sharks.
This article will be updated following McLellan’s media scrum later this morning.
McLellan on if he would have rather practiced yesterday or did he think a day off was good to allow everybody to reset following the roadtrip
We can use all the practice that we can get. With the the youth that we have in the lineup right now, there’s a lot of things that we need to work on. We’ve talked about that a lot, but we also have to think, in the long run, about the the engines. Being able to recover, staying healthy, and be able to play a lot of games in a short period of time. Balance is important, so it’s a tough question to answer because we would have preferred some practice time, but they also need to breathe a little bit.
On Alex Iafallo flying under the radar of most people, and assessing his game this season
I think he is as steady of a player as we have. He’s not flashy, he’s not gonna be the the first start of the week in the NHL, he probably isn’t going to lead the league in scoring. We know all of those things. I can tell you when we go and watch the game, when we looked at details in his game, both offensively and defensively, there’s a lot of young players on our team right now that could learn a lot from him. When some of your top players are asking to play with a certain individual, I think that speaks volumes. He’s a trusting guy, he does have offense. His numbers are are hopefully gonna climb as the years go on. Right now, we’re getting a lot from him and in so many different situations, all over the ice, all 200 feet.
On Matt Roy and Sean Walker
They’re both still out. They’re progressing quite well. They’re around the rink and really upbeat, full of life and energy. That’s all real good, even for the guys that are playing. It uplifts everybody to see them progressing and getting healthier.
On any if there are any positive aspects from Olli Maatta’s past two games
Yes. He looks more comfortable, looks more confident, made plays a little bit quicker, a little bit cleaner, he’s on his feet more. I talked him on the ice today and he was smiling now. That’s positive, we have to build on it now. We have to build off of some of the positive things that he’s done over the last few games. The last two games have been been tough on our backend, obviously. Without a lot of individuals to move in and out, he has become a really important guy. Maybe this has been good for him because he settled in.
On needing more offense, but the outnumbered attacks against
Well, I don’t know if we need more offense. If you score three, you better have a real good chance of winning. We had that. We’ve had that a few nights when we’ve lost games. The defensive side of it, up until — you know, there was one night in St. Louis, where we got dinged a little bit for long rushes; the first night in Vegas, we got absolutely drilled in that area. The second night, we did give up a goal or two on transition, but it wasn’t the same case as the night prior. When structurally you’re getting beat, you’ve got to adjust. When individually guys are making really poor reads, it’s hard to take it out on the group or to change things. You have to teach and get players to have better reads and understand what they’re trying to accomplish. You hope they can have more success the second time out.
On if there’s a need for more video work or on-ice time with younger defensemen, or if it’s specific to the individual
It’s both and it’s about the individual. Sometimes it’s the pair, sometimes it’s the understanding of the system, the reads, and what has to happen. Not all mistakes made by defenseman are solely credited to them. Often, the receiver isn’t in position. That could be the forward or whoever else it might be; they don’t have any out. We look at that, as well. The the six of them — and, obviously, Drew, with his experience and Olli starting to settle in — that’s a real good sign. The others are cutting their teeth and they’re having some real good shifts. Then there’s other times during the game where it gets away on them a little bit. We have no choice right now, we’ve got to continue to work them through and see what we can get out of them. In the long run, maybe not next week or the week after, but in the long run, we hope that this pays off for them.
On if Bjornfot playing with Ontario last night and then being placed on the NHL roster again today was all part of the plan or if something changed
It’s a little bit of the plan. We’d like to get him practicing a little bit more with us, and get him into the game here quite soon. He hadn’t played a lot since the World Juniors simply because he was a taxi guy with us. He played a few exhibition games, that type of stuff. I think he can give us some minutes as we go forward. We want to make sure that when Walker and Roy come back, we have the right six in the lineup on any given night.
On if Adrian Kempe’s confidence playing on the top line carries over to his 5×5 play and killing penalties
I believe it does, but it’s also his play in those situations that allows our confidence in him to put him there. He’s one of the the better players on our team over the last two years, he’s been one of the better entry teams on the power play. He commands that puck in those situations and often we’re able to get in. We didn’t do a real good job against Vegas in the second game, but some nights it doesn’t go your way. He has shown some poise. It’s an opportunity for us to show confidence in him. He’s not an old player, he’ll be in our organization for a long time. We feel it’s something that he can grow into and continue to be effective in that area as the years go on.
On if there are areas of Kempe’s 5×5 game that have shown improvement since he took over as coach
There was a point last year where he was in a pretty dark spot, not much was going on for him. He was playing center, and when he went over to the wing he gained a little more confidence. I felt when he went on a line where he was the alpha, or maybe the older player, and took charge a little bit more, he had more effectiveness in the game, all over all over the rink. It was slipping on him and it was slipping away from us. He came back and matured, accepted his role, grew his game. In retrospect, looking back, he got here late last year with the new coaching staff and it probably hurt him for the first 10-15 games.
On the ongoing evaluation of Gabe Vilardi
The evaluations are, put the game up, watch it, take a look at at everybody as a whole, and then break down moments individually. There’s a lot of positive moments in his game. When he has the puck, his vision, his ability to create. He hasn’t been rewarded as much for his creativity this year, whether it’s he finishing or other people around him finishing. Then we look at the other side of the puck and like any young players — forwards or defenseman — when they come into the league, it’s a hard, hard league, especially defensively. We’re trying to work with him on those details, without him losing confidence in the offense. It’s a fine line, a juggling line. We’ll go through this with numerous young players that come into the league. There’s very few McDavids, Draisaitls, and Matthews that just jump in. In fact, Leon didn’t even do it. He was in the minors for a little while. Matthews and McDavid just jumped in were star players. Those guys are really unique. The rest of them need a little bit of time, they need some work, they need to be coached up. They need to be shown confidence, but they also need to be held accountable. It’s a juggling act. There’s times where we want to show confidence in him and he’s got to return it, then vice versa. I think it’s been going okay so far. I think he gets better each night. We’ve had his minutes up to 18 on some given nights. There are a lot of positives, but there’s a lot of work to do.
On if enjoys that process of molding some of these young guys
I do. It’s like a teacher in the classroom. You just see them absorb things, they apply them, it works for them, they gain more confidence. then, all of a sudden they slip a little bit, miss a class or miss an assignment, you have to go and correct it. The reward is now, but the reward even more so will be later on when maybe we’ve retired and he’s having one hell of a career. I look at Leon right now in Edmonton. There were times where we butted heads over responsibility and all the other things that young players are going through. Look at him now, he’s one of the top players in the world. All the little lessons he learned along the way were valuable. Even though I’m not there, it’s rewarding to see him have the the type of seasons he’s had over the last little bit.
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