Plenty of hockey has been played since the Kings and Wild first hooked up for a pair of games to open the 2021 NHL season. While LA played well enough to win both of those January matchups, it was Minnesota who snagged two points in each of them.
Fast forward to the present and it was more of the same. In what turned out to be the best 60-minute performance by the Kings in quite some time — in a game they desperately needed to win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive — they were still unable to scoop up any points and improve their West Division positioning.
Following Friday night’s 4-2 loss, coach Todd McLellan shared these thoughts:
On the overall game
I’m actually quite happy with our game. We had some tenacity to our forecheck, we kept a lot of pucks alive – more so than we’ve done in the last little while here, it was probably the best night of attacking we’ve had in a long time. We shot the puck, we got it back. We created a lot in and around the net with scrambles. We just didn’t find a way to either keep one out of our net or get the extra one. I don’t have a lot of complaints about our play tonight.
On if putting together a strong 60-minute game that results in a loss hurts any more at this time of the year, given what’s at stake
A loss is a loss. We’re moving on. In fact, we better all be over it already because we’ve got a big game tomorrow. We didn’t climb tonight, but we didn’t fall. That’s a good thing. We get another chance tomorrow and if we put the same type of effort in and the same type of game, we’ll win our share.
On the forechecking of Gabe Vilardi, Adrian Kempe, and Trevor Moore, and their chemistry as a line
Forechecking is a contagious part of the game, like shot blocking or anything else. They set the tone tonight with their tenacity early in the game. We were using the word ‘hunt’ a lot on the bench, and they were doing that, and it rubbed off on a couple other lines. As a result, it went through the whole team and all of a sudden, we have that mentality rather than a pull out or back off mentality, and we had it right to the end. The three of them did a really good job of initiating that.
On if the forechecking led to defensemen getting more involved in the play offensively
Yeah. When you’re down by one or two, you’re very desperate. So your D are going to be a lot more active, they’re going to take more chances. Early in the game, we didn’t get much through from the top. Later on, we started to and it led to consecutive chances, rather than one and done.
On the decision to start Cal Petersen in goal tonight, deviating from his usual 50/50 rotation
Just went back with him.
On the play of Kirill Kaprisov, and the importance of a game-breaking skilled player to a team
[Kaprisov] is going to be, at least in my opinion, the Rookie of the Year for a reason. He has five or six pro years under his belt, he’s brought a great skill set to the National League. Minnesota is lucky to have him, we’re lucky to have him as a league, and he’s a heck of a player. Some of the players that you mentioned that were up for that Calder Trophy award had great years too. Connor [McDavid] and Auston Matthews and those type of players. Right now, he’s setting himself up to have a real good career. He made good on a couple of his opportunities tonight and helped them win.
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