‘Get home, get healthy.’ It’s a common phrase from NHL coaches and players. For the Kings, it was apropos this week. Following a rough weekend in Denver, they returned to Staples Center on Wednesday night and defeated the visiting St. Louis Blues 4-1. More importantly, LA ran their season record to 5-1-1 when playing their 2021 division rival.
Following the game, coach Todd McLellan shared the following comments:
On the success this season against St. Louis
We respect them enough; we really rise to the occasion. We have checked well against this team. Our special teams seemed to get us one more than they get a night which really helps, and we’ve got outstanding goaltending in all of the matches that we played against them. I don’t think there’s anything particular that we’re doing or they’re doing.
On Jaret Anderson-Dolan’s impact on the lineup
Sometimes things work with combinations of players. [Carl] Grundstrom played one of his better games in a long time tonight. [Trevor Moore]’s played quite well. They complement each other; they have a tenacity, yet a calmness to them that allows them to keep plays alive in the offensive zone. All three of them are fairly well conditioned, so they can extend shifts a little bit, and it’s just working for them right now. [Anderson-Dolan]’s a real important piece there, they get some confidence when he goes back with them. We’ll ride that line for as long as we possibly can.
On the role that face-offs played in the team’s success tonight
It was a focus of ours, we know that they’re a really good face-off team. With them getting [Tyler] Bozak back tonight, [Ryan] O’Reilly, [Brayden] Schenn, and even [Oskar] Sundqvist, or [Dakota] Joshua. When they’re taking faceoffs, they could start with a puck and awful lot. We really emphasized that. Not only the centerman, ours and theirs competing, but the people on the perimeter jumping inside and trying to come up with loose stuff so that we could have the puck a little more than they did. Our group did a good job of it.
On Dustin Brown missing his second straight game with an injury
He’s getting closer. I know he’ll skate tomorrow; I don’t know how active he’ll be. There’s a good chance he could play on Friday. I’m gonna wait and take my cue from Dustin, I’m gonna take it from the medical team, but he was close today.
On the importance of getting to play at home after going 0-2 in Colorado
The Colorado trip was hard on us. A lot of things happened on that trip. The illness, the storm, us not playing very well in game one, having to react in game two and playing a little bit better but still losing both games, and then spending that extra day there didn’t help. Our leaders did a tremendous job. We actually skated yesterday, they came to us and wanted to skate. It was a scheduled day off. They came to the coaching staff and said, ‘we need to skate, we want to clean our legs out,’ led by [Anze Kopitar] but supported by the team as a whole. We had a 10- or 15-minute skate yesterday, it was a real good decision on their behalf. They owned that skate yesterday, it was a really good skate for us, and it carried over into tonight.
On if he takes the score and game flow into consideration while evaluating the 2nd and 3rd periods tonight
It’s good for us to play with the lead sometimes. Let’s face it, over the last year and a half it hasn’t happened enough. It’s starting to, but a three-goal lead is a dangerous one. You can get casual quick. You begin to get away from your game plan, which I thought we’d get a little bit in the second period. The break helped us refocus on what our tasks were as a line and we began to play more like we needed to in the third. Great experience for us, something we need to do more often. It’d be great to have more 3-0 leads. In the third especially, we handled it well. The second, it got away on us a little bit.
On his big-picture assessment of the team at the season’s halfway point
The most important thing right now is we’re in the mix. We’re there, we’re swinging with the big boys, we’ve earned the right to be respected around the league. Teams describe us as hard to play against and structured. Those are compliments that were happy to receive. With respect comes responsibility, and the games are just harder. We don’t see a lot of backup goaltenders anymore; we see the number one starting against us. Individuals are growing as we move forward. There’s still a lot of learning to do. There’s skill development and then there’s game management. The skill part we’re getting, the game management for some of our younger players is still coming. They’ve got to understand where we are in a game and what we need to do, but that’s all part of experience. For the most part it’s been a positive first half.
More Postgame Quotes:
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