During his exit interview last week, LA Kings’ defenseman Matt Roy spoke of his own game but shared his observations on the team’s overall performance.
For Matt Roy, it was, for all intents and purposes, a breakout year. The LA Kings blueliner helped set the tone for the team’s defensive strength as a whole, establishing himself as someone to invest in on the club’s back-end for years to come.
During his exit interview on Friday, Roy was asked what factored into his success this past season and what helped him become so comfortable playing at the NHL level.
“I think just the speed of the game, the pace of the game,” the Michigan Tech alum said. “I felt like I wasn’t trying to match the game when you first get called up. You’re kind of worried about other guys and how fast they are know how good they are, but, you know, having a year of experience, I feel like I was confident in myself and I was ready to go from the beginning.”
Another breakout defenseman for the Kings this season was Mikey Anderson.
Roy was asked to speak about his development this season in a year that saw the 21-year-old break away from the pack, so to speak, and really come into his own as a full-time defenseman.
“He’s obviously played with [Doughty], has played a lot of minutes this year against the best lines out there, so credit to him,” Roy observed. “He learns the game well and he’s a really good partner in the sense that he communicates a lot and he makes it easier on whoever his partner is. So, I think he had a good year, for sure.”
Roy continued with his assessment of Tobias Bjornfot.
While not as established as Anderson, the 20-year-old rookie has certainly shown signs that he belongs with the big club.
“Toby, you know, is he came out of his shell, slowly but surely, throughout the year,” Roy said. “He was a little quiet [at] the start of the year but as the year went on and at the end of the year, he was loud and he was jumping up in the offense.”
In 44 games this season, Matt Roy scored two goals and eight assists but stood out defensively, blocking a total of 67 shots, earning himself 19:15 of average ice time this past season but also a three-year contract extension. Heck, after missing three weeks to recuperate from a dangerous hit from behind, Roy showed that, in addition to his defensive prowess, he had incredible resilience as he was the Kings’ nominee for this year’s Bill Masterton Trophy.
But, the 26-year-old was not content to rest on his own laurels as he took Friday’s exit interview opportunity to address what needs to be done for the Kings to become a better team.
“I think last year, we played a lot more aggressive on our forecheck, and in our neutral-zone forecheck, which allowed us to play in the offensive zone a bit more,” Roy noted. “I think this year, we had a tendency to sag back a bit and play a bit more defense. So, I think in that regard, we played better last year, but hopefully moving forward, we can get back to that: be more aggressive and be on the attack.
“I think [to begin the 2020-21 season], we were pretty aggressive. And then I think just gradually as the year went on, I’m not sure why, I just think that slowly went a little more passive.”
While missing the playoffs is certainly disappointing for any player, there is solace in the form of the annual World Championship. This year’s version may be a bit more special given that last year’s Worlds were canceled due to COVID. Nevertheless, Matt Roy has a silver lining to cap off his season as he was invited to represent Team USA at the upcoming tournament.
“I’ve never been asked to join USA before so I’m really excited about that,” the Detroit native noted. “I haven’t played international competition and I think it’s gonna be a great experience and it’ll be fun sharing it with some other teammates.”
Those looking at the short-term future may not be too excited to see how the LA Kings will fare on the ice moving forward. Matt Roy, however, is an example of why fans should be exciting about the silver-and-black when the 2021-22 campaign kicks off.
They may be ready to contend for a playoff just yet and, at this juncture, it’s unknown how their schedule will look. Still, the LA Kings have multiple reasons to feel confident in their short- and long-term futures, and Matt Roy is an instrumental reason why.