Following the Kings pregame skate on Monday morning, coach Todd McLellan was talking about the need for his players to put the frustration of last Friday and Saturday behind them if they were to have any success against the visiting Anaheim Ducks. They did just that, jumping out to an early 2-0 lead on goals by Sean Walker and Mikey Anderson — marking the first time this season two defensemen had scored in the same game. They eventually tacked on a couple of empty net goals and it was smiles all around during the post-game zoom calls.
It must be true, winning cures everything.
Following the team’s victory in the first of four straight games against the Ducks, here’s what McLellan had to share:
On the increased offense from defensemen tonight
The really good teams in the league right now, they’re getting a lot of production from the blueline. I don’t think our D are aggressive enough with their shots, they’re not always prepared to shoot. Tonight, a goal like Walker’s, it’s a seeing eye one that finds its way to the net and, lo and behold, it goes in. A lot of times you score off that crap in and around the net when the D do take the shots. As we move forward and we continue evolve, offense has to come from the blueline as much as it does from the forwards.
On playing 11 forwards and seven defensemen tonight, and the benefits of extra ice time for some players
On this night, we were happy that we went that route. It got some of our forwards into the game more than maybe it would have if we just rolled four lines. It felt better playing the fourth line with different people there for whatever reason. The counter part of it is the back end, now you have a d-man that’s sitting there for a little while, so it’s hard one way or the other. [Trent Yawney, defensive coach] did a real good job of managing the back end tonight, making sure that all the d-men were involved. Believe it or not, it’s not an easy task when you’re used to just coaching six and rolling them. [Yawney] did a real good job, maybe it’s something that we’ll look at doing more often.
On if there is a benefit when dressing seven defensemen to see a variety of pairings
You’re exactly right. Yawney played guys with different partners throughout the night, just to make sure there were some balanced minutes. It keeps the D on their toes. It’s just not routine, it’s not just jumping over the boards and continuing to do what you do. You have to be a little bit more alert, a little bit more aware of who your partner may be, communicate on the bench. It was just change, and it helped us a little bit tonight. Maybe it’s something we’ll do more moving forward, I don’t know. Tonight, it worked for us.
On the impact of Anze Kopitar in the faceoff circle (86% tonight)
It makes a huge difference when you at least have a chance to execute a breakout after a faceoff. I was asked a couple times about [Kopitar]’s minutes compared to some other centers, he’s the most reliable faceoff guy we have by a country mile. A lot of times when you’re in your zone, he comes out on the ice and starts there. That’s a tough task for him because he has to skate 200-feet to get to the offensive zone all the time. When you’re a really good team, you can save that a little bit and use them on offensive zone starts more than defensive zone. Some of our other centers need to pick the slack up so we trust them a little bit more there.
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