History has this funny way of repeating itself. Coming into this weekend set vs. the Sharks, the Kings were winless on Friday nights this season and hadn’t shown much life in the front end of their two-game sets in 2021. Conversely, the Kings had been rather dominate in the back-half of those same sets.
While the outcome was somewhat obvious on paper, they played the games anyway. True to form, Game 1 saw a lopsided San Jose victory, bringing LA’s record on Fridays to 0-7. Then, 24 hours later, the Kings snatched a 4-2 win before grabbing a plane back home on Saturday night.
See… the more things change, the more they really just stay the same.
Either way, following Saturday’s contest, coach Todd McLellan shared the following thoughts:
On how the team defended the rush chances and long passes from San Jose tonight
We were better in that area. In the first period, we gave up two outnumbered — ones that were of any significance — and one in the second. The other night against them, we gave up a boatload. It made a bit of a difference in the game tonight. We adjusted; the guys played better in that area.
On if the team has found the recipe for success, and now is working to play that game consistently
That’s fair to say. We’re not perfect, we’re gonna make mistakes. We have a foundation, or a structured understanding, of how we want to play and what we want to do. We actually talked about it today; an identity that we have to play towards. We get away from it and try and run-and-gun with teams and we get ourselves in trouble. We still need some polishing around the net. The amount of opportunities we create, all it does is create faceoffs or transition coming back the other way. That’s something that we have to improve on. At this time of the year, we should have all that stuff in place, it’s just a matter of getting it done.
On the team having 10 more blocked shots tonight than last night
They got in shooting lanes, sometimes that can be a deceiving stat. If you’re blocking a lot of shots that probably means you were in your end or you were killing a lot of penalties, as was the case tonight. We had five of them that we had to get through. I would venture to guess that most of those blocked shots, or a fair chunk of them, came in that situation. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve had success with our penalty kill, because we’re willing to do that, or at least the guys on the penalty kill are. The good teams, the teams that consistently win, have players that sell out for each other all the time. We’re developing that.
On how the team was able to suppress ‘long chances’ from San Jose
We did a much better job of it, probably gave up three or four the whole night. That’s not unusual for any type of game, even a really well-played game. We were better in that area. We were better through the middle of the rink. Instead of playing from the outside in, we played from the inside out, and it certainly helped us.
On the return of Olli Maatta
I thought he was an important addition to our team. He has some poise back there and he’s played in these situations before. He’s worked hard to get back earlier than we thought he would, and he had a pretty admirable game.
On how the team’s situation approaching this deadline is different from previous years
Significantly different. Last year was the only year I was here for it, but at that point, everybody was on pins and needles. It was well known that our management team was gonna move some players and try and recoup some assets and continue to retool the organization. This year, we’re in a much more stable situation. You still hear names out there. I don’t know where the hell they come from, maybe it’s the type of year that we have and some of the bloggers need to write about things. It’s actually interesting when you’re on the inside and you listen to the conversations that management has, and then you go to the outside and the rumors some of the outsiders that are posting, ‘I heard this’ and ‘I heard that.’ It’s not even remotely close to what’s going on. It’s an interesting year; I understand that we’ve got to create some buzz in the media and have people talked about. It’s that time of year, Trade Deadline is often exciting. This one is shaping up maybe to be a boring one.
On how adding a consistent top-end player could help the team slot players in their appropriate spots in the lineup
I can’t give you the answer because it’s impossible to deduct that. Any time you add talent and skill and hockey IQ and real good hockey players to your team, you should be getting better. The phase we’re in, the attrition of adding and subtracting, as long as it’s working in our favor for every move we make, we’re going in the right direction. It might not seem that way on some nights, but the youth that’s coming in with a little more experience should get ahead of some of the ones that have departed, and that’s called a rebuild. The top teams in the league are looking for depth right now at the Trade Deadline, and they’re trying to add one more good player to make them better. The answer is obviously yes, but I don’t know how much.
On the improved finishing ability from Alex Iafallo this season
Smart, arrives on time, has good line mates, checks for his chances. His release is a little quicker right now. His brain does a lot of the work for him and for his linemates, and then his legs chip in. We’re very fortunate to have him.
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