Kings General Manager Rob Blake met with the media on Thursday. Below is the majority of what he shared on a variety of topics:
On the Cal Petersen situation
The idea here is that Cal can go down to the American League and play in games, get that structure that we believe in and come back up and help us. That’s as simple as it gets. That was the reason behind the decision. Now, we’re passed the deadline of the waivers, so he can actually go practice there and get himself into some games and get playing.
On if there is any sort of a timetable for Petersen’s return to the NHL
Not really. I couldn’t sit here and say, ‘Two weeks, three weeks, etc.’ He’s just going to go down. I trust Billy Ranford and our goalie coaches to continue to work with him. The biggest thing, from our point, was he has to get into games continuously here to get his game back to the level that he wants and that we want.
On if sending Cal to Ontario was an idea he brought to Ranford or vice versa
We talked internally here for a few weeks about different things, and different strategies, that we could come up with. But everyone has been involved with that.
On him addressing the team on Wednesday after practice was cancelled
I just felt the need to do it. Not specifically on Cal, but specifically on that we want to get better in a lot of areas. You get to the 25-game mark, it just kind of coincided, all of that together yesterday. … There are some areas we need to improve on. There are some areas we’ve made progress, for sure. And the biggest thing is consistency. I don’t think I’m the only one saying it; the players have said it, Todd said it. Sometimes you get in a room together with everybody — coaches, myself, and [the players] — that theme is common amongst our group.
On how much of the current issues are related to the overall defense
For sure. We have to balance actual goals against expected goals against, and understand our systems. There’s a big discrepancy in those two right now. We have to find the underlining issues on that.
On if he is seeing the buy-in necessary to attack those challenges
On how much of the move to put Petersen on waivers was also a message being sent to other players in the room
I don’t think it’s that. We didn’t do it for a message. We did it to where we feel we can help Cal; get him in a situation where we can get him playing games. We believe he’s a good goalie and we believe he’s going to come back in here and help us.
On the challenges of goaltenders trying to work on their game at the NHL level, when they’re sometimes only playing every other game
As a defenseman or forward, if you have a tough game or you’re struggling, you can go out and you can play safe or even limited minutes. As far as a defenseman, you can put it off the boards, make real safe plays. It’s difficult in goalie situations. We can only carry two. We can carry six, seven, eight D. We can carry 14 forwards, if we want. We don’t have a lot of options on the backend to get goalies into games. That’s why this this came about.
On what’s troubled him overall with the team through 25 games
Penalty kill needs to be better.
On how the conversation went with Petersen yesterday
Just that whole thing — like, ‘Listen, we believe you’re going to be here with us helping us going forward. But we need to find a way to get you back playing the way you’re capable of and the way we feel your capable of.’
On what he feels is ailing Petersen’s play; is it a confidence thing
I don’t know. I’m sure all that kind of weighs into it. That’s why I said I put a lot of faith in Billy Ranford and his staff and his relationships with Cal — and with our goalies in the past — to do that.
On Brandt Clarke, including how he looked in the AHL
The idea of the American League was to get some games there for him. Obviously, with the World Juniors coming up, we have a decision to make here within the next few days. We’ve had multiple calls with Hockey Canada discussing that, with Brandt included. We travel, I think Monday, back to Ottawa and Toronto. We’ll be in that area when Hockey Canada’s [selection] camp would start up, so we’ll have to look at those things there for next week.
On Quinton Byfield’s time in the AHL the past few weeks
He’s been good. [I saw] a few games live over the past week. I think on the offensive side of things, you see a little bit of that production — handling more minutes and everything. It is a spot where he can work on a lot of aspects of his game in multiple minutes down there.
On if the Kings defense is too offensive oriented at this point
No, no, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t say we’re too [offensive oriented]. There is a balance there. I think we would like a little more offense out of our defense at times. I’m not sure we’re too offensive-minded. [reporter: Do they take too many chances then? Are they making the reads that you want them to make?] I think part of our inconsistency is mistakes at tough times. Not just defensively, but overall team play. I think last year our team structure, defensively, was very good by the end of the year. I think that we’re still capable of getting to that level.
On how much he’s looked at a trade as a possible solution
I don’t think we’re just going to trade just to do something. We’re constantly looking at different solutions to try to go back to the consistency level. We have to find that.
On the possibility of some of the younger defensemen in the pipeline getting an opportunity to play in the NHL soon
Jacob Moverare got in there for a game or two. Jordan Spence was up for a short period of time here recently, then back down. Now, Toby Bjornfot is back in that mix. We’ll see how the lineup shakes out. But those guys have been doing a real good job in Ontario. Part of the reason we move them around a little bit is we don’t want any of them sitting for an extended period of time. So you can bring one up as a seventh D for two or three weeks, but I’m not sure it does the right thing when we have the ability to put them down [in Ontario] and play games.
On any observations he’s been able to make regarding what Jim Hiller has been doing with the power play
You’re starting to see some of the different strategies he’s put into place. Sometimes when you bring somebody in from the outside, it’s just a different look. Where I see a little difference is different positions for players. You’ll see the players change actually during the power play. You’re also adding Kevin Fiala into the mix on one of them, and Gabe Vilardi is more consistent on the power play than we might have had in the past.
On Alex Iafallo and Brendan Lemieux, as they prepare for possible returns from injury
Lemieux is currently skating on his own. Iafallo is out of the red [jersey] and full practice. With tomorrow’s mandatory day off, from [the NHLPA], he’s not going to get too many practices this week. But it’s real encouraging to see he’s getting close.
On the compacted schedule LA has played thus far
There are things we look at. For sure we’ve played a lot of games. Practice time has been limited in-between there. We haven’t played as many back-to-backs, situations that we would have last year. So that adds another game, where we may have had a practice day instead of playing. Everybody’s dealing with scheduling, we have maybe three or four more games than the least played in the league. So not a big discrepancy. We also started the season on a Tuesday instead of Thursday, which increased us one more game than most other teams.
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