LA Kings: Todd McLellan didn’t think team was ready to play on Saturday

LA Kings (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LA Kings (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Hoping to start fast after a disappointing end to the 2021 season opener, the LA Kings immediately found themselves down 1-0 after just 0:21 into the first period. Wild defenseman Matt Dumba fired a shot on net from the right side, hitting Jonathan Quick, bouncing off Kurtis MacDermid, and finding the back of the net.

The Kings got on the board near the end of the first period, as Austin Wagner was fed a pass in the slot, firing a shot toward the goal. The puck hit Talbot, deflecting along the goal crease, as Adrian Kempe was there to push the puck over the line as the net was dislodged in the process.  Initially ruled no goal, an official review determined the puck was across before the net was jarred loose. Later, the goal was credited to Gabe Vilardi. 1-1 heading to the break.

The similarities in the second period between Thursday and Saturday night were astounding. If you recall, the LA Kings killed off five penalties in the third period in the 2021 season opener. On Saturday, they killed off four penalties in the second period, two of which were partially offset by Wild penalties.

Offensively, Los Angeles received two goals, extending the score to another 3-1 lead. Drew Doughty ripped a shot from the blue line, deflecting off a Wild defender and off Blake Lizotte and into the back of the net. Just over three minutes later, Andreas Athanasiou poke-checked the puck away at the point, with Jeff Carter picking the puck up in the neutral zone. Leading the odd-man rush, Carter fired a backhanded shot at Cam Talbot, where Athanasiou buried the rebound for an easy tap-in, netting his second goal in just as many games.

The LA Kings blew another 3-1 lead in the third period

Similar to Thursday, the third period saw the Minnesota Wild take over the game, with Joel Eriksson Ek bringing the visitors within one. And with the goalie pulled, Ryan Suter beat the buzzer, sending the game to overtime for the second consecutive game.

It felt inevitable in the extra period. The Wild looked faster on the ice than the Kings. With just over ten seconds to play, Kirill Kaprizov sent a pass to Marcus Johansson at the right dot, who fired a floater on net that got past Jonathan Quick.

Todd McLellan on the loss

“I’m disappointed right now, just like the rest of the group,” McLellan said. “That’s two games in a row that played out almost identical in a lot of different ways. There’s no reason why we should let either of them get away on us but they obviously did. There are things that we need to work on. I’m still not happy with the penalties that we’re taking some of them were just awful decisions, too many men on the ice, different situations that are completely preventable.”

“So is it because we haven’t played for a while? Possibly, but I think that would be using it as an excuse. I didn’t think we were ready to play tonight, and that’s not a good sign for us at all, especially early in the season. Their first goal, we went over that faceoff probably ten minutes before we went out. And the very first one in our end they score off of, so quite disappointed a lot of guys tonight, but we’ll work on it we’ll get ready for the next one.

[Todd] McLellan on potentially making any line changes

“We’ve only played six periods in out last 330 days, so the argument has to be made,” the LA Kings head coach explained. “Are we prepared to try and let lines gel and find their way through all of this, or we got to make radical changes and shuffle everything up? I think we’ll go with the first more than the second, just for the sake that we’ve got to get up and running. The offense again, three goals is enough. The defensive side of it, the stupid plays we’re making walking to the penalty box is hurting us right now and we can fix that but we’ve got to make a point of doing it individually and then collectively.”

Adrian Kempe’s initial reaction

“We knew they were going to come out hard in the third,” Kempe said. “They got one goal, and they’re gonna have that man advantage. It sucks right now. We have to learn from this and move on.”

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Screenshot 2021-01-16 at 11.36.17 PM /
Screenshot 2021-01-16 at 11.35.49 PM
Screenshot 2021-01-16 at 11.35.49 PM /

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