With the end in sight, Gabe Vilardi and the Kings wrapped up the home portion of their 2021 NHL schedule with a 2-1 overtime loss on Monday night.
However, there have been some encouraging signs of late.
Gabriel Vilardi is good at setting up goals. pic.twitter.com/kismk4x97L
— LA Kings (@LAKings) May 11, 2021
Not only did Vilardi set up Alex Iafallo for the Kings only goal in the game, he also pushed his personal point streak up to four games, recording five points over that stretch (3G, 2A). Plus, Vilardi’s faceoff numbers have improved — including winning more than 60% of his draws vs. the Blues — and he’s meshing with his new linemates.
LA’s rookie center shared a few thoughts on all of those topics postgame:
Vilardi on if he feels more comfortable in the offensive zone with points in four straight games
Yeah, I’m feeling comfortable right now. I’m playing with two good linemates that both work hard and are able to get the puck so I can make more plays. We’re creating right now offensively. I think we can do more.
On incorporating Todd McLellan’s advice of shooting more into his game
Just shooting, less thinking. Before, I was trying to make the perfect play or set someone up and give them an empty net. I have to trust my linemates and trust other guys and shoot. You watch the top players, they shoot. When you shoot, it creates more opportunities. It creates a defensive scramble a bit more; that’s when you get guys out of position and that’s when things open up. Stuff opens up after shots. I’m starting to learn that and realize that a bit more. I have to keep shooting because it creates more, rather than not shooting and trying to make perfect plays.
On the impact of having fans in the building
It’s very nice for sure. There are — I don’t know how many, if there are 1,000, 2,000, whatever it is — even with that, we can hear them. You hear some of the chants and it feels good. I don’t want to say it feels normal because nothing’s normal yet, but it’s starting to feel a bit more normal.
On improving his faceoffs
On the road trip, [Jarrett Stoll] came and I got to work with him a bit more. I haven’t really done that this year as much as I’d like. That helped a little bit. Faceoffs are better, I have to keep working on that. They’re still not great. I’m very inconsistent with faceoffs. One night, I’ll be very good and the next night, I can be very bad. I have to get more consistent on them.
On how he and Alex Iafallo have meshed well these past few games
He’s very easy to play with. I’m sure you’ve heard that from many people, he’s very consistent. Every night, you know what you’re gonna get from him. He works, he’s hard on the forecheck, he has great hands, good vision. He does a lot of small things that make everyone else’s job easier. He attracts guys for him in the D zone just by how hard he works, so it makes things easier for his linemates, so that helps me and just gives me more space.
On how he has improved his defensive game this season
I think it’s been better lately. I still watch video after, and I’m still puck watching a bit. That’s something that Marco [Sturm] has talked with me a lot about the last few weeks or so. You saw the other night, when [Cale] Makar passed it through me, I’m just puck watching. That’s something that I have to keep working on. It’s good that we have a guy like [Anze Kopitar]; I can watch him because he always does the right thing. It’s good to just get his video and watch that.
McLellan’s postgame quotes can be found here.
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