Kings coach Todd McLellan wasn’t looking for any excuses postgame on Monday evening. His team put up the first two goals of the game, but didn’t give the full 60-minute effort needed against one of the NHL’s top teams. The result? A 4-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.
All season long, the Kings have struggled — or at least come up short — in the opening game of their two-game sets vs. West Division opponents. So, the trend continues.
It’s the second game where the Kings have shined, so perhaps Wednesday will provide a better outcome for an LA team barely holding onto their 2021 playoff hopes.
After Monday’s game, McLellan shared the following:
On if it was worse for the team to surrender the shorthanded goal or the Alex Tuch end-to-end goal
Do I have a ‘C’ choice and say both? The power play one was the toughest for me because they had chances before that. We got sloppy, we got careless; and if the power play isn’t scoring, it should at least gain you a little bit of momentum. It did none of those things tonight. All it did was give back momentum. That was the turning point. The end-to-end rush was very poorly played, so that’s disappointing, as well. The power play one was one that came late in the period, and it wasn’t the first breakaway — or the only breakaway on the power play situation tonight, so that’s disappointing.
On if the NHL should make the Trade Deadline day an off-day for games being played
I don’t know the answer to that. It would just be my opinion, but let’s face it, in this season, this type of year, we have to use every day available to us. We’re grown men, most of us are mature enough to be able to handle these situations. We accept it when we write our name on the dotted line to enter the league. It’s part of the business. Let’s get over it and move on.
On if the team’s start tonight was as good as he’s seen this season
Was a better start than what we’ve had. We didn’t want to go to the penalty box 25 seconds in, that could have been a real tough thing to overcome. Give that team a power play on real good ice, right off the bat, before a lot of players even got on the ice. But, the penalty kill did a pretty good job. Getting out to a 2-0 lead against them, they’re that strong that you go to sleep, you make a poor play, or combine two or three bad plays, or get caught out long, and they’re making you pay for it. That’s what championship caliber teams do. We’re working towards that. We want to become that. We can’t quite put it all together yet. The start itself was better than some of them that we’ve had lately.
On how Brendan Lemieux is fitting in with the team
I think he’s still trying to fit into the group, figure out his role. Not figure out his role, he should know his role, but figure out how we play, get to know his linemates. We’re gonna have to give him a little bit of time.
[ed. note: Lemieux assisted on Austin Wagner’s goal tonight, for his fist point as a member of the Kings.]
On if the loss tonight was the Kings not doing what made them successful, or Vegas imposing their style of play
Power play, the lack of execution on the power play. If you’re not scoring, your job is to create a little momentum and energy. The life got sucked out of us on the power play and it opened the door for them to come back in and strike, and they did.
Austin Wagner on the overall game
Our first period was pretty good. They transition the puck extremely well, off every line change. Every time they get the chance, they’re going quick up. I think, as a team, we know that we have to get better at that against them on Wednesday. We had a tied game going into the third and it just happened that way. We’ll look at video. Everybody will watch their shifts. Everybody will recoup and we’ll be better Wednesday. … We know what we have to do in that room. We’re a group that’s tightknit and we know that to win games we have to play a full 60-minutes. We have to play as a team, all four lines, all 60, and our goaltender. … There’s no excuse for tonight. We know that we need to be better. Our group is great like that. We fix our mistakes and we work hard. … The sun is gonna rise tomorrow. Wednesday we have them again and we’ll make sure that we’re ready to go.
Blake Lizotte on the game
We had a lot of turnovers tonight. They’re a good transition team, so they had quite a few chances off our own turnovers. It’s one of those things you kind of shoot your own self in the foot when you turn the puck over. We need to improve in that area.
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