VIDEO: Includes video interviews with Los Angeles Kings forwards Marian Gaborik and Tyler Toffoli, along with head coach Darryl Sutter.
EL SEGUNDO, CA — As reported in this space on March 9, the Los Angeles Kings have been on quite the tear since the National Hockey League All-Star break, with a 13-6-1 record over their last 20 games, good for 27 out of a possible 40 points.
That’s a rather lofty winning percentage of .675.
“We just had to tune our game up and make sure that everybody does their thing, work on special teams, use our forecheck and speed, and make sure that we work as five guys out there,” said left wing Marian Gaborik. “We have been doing that really well lately.”
“We’ve been working like one machine, just taking it shift-by-shift,” added Gaborik.
Right wing Tyler Toffoli, who scored his 20th goal of the season during a 4-0 victory at Vancouver on March 12, indicated that doing the little things is adding up to big things for the Kings.
“Right now, we’re playing well,” he said. “We’re making those little plays that, at points in the season when we were struggling, we weren’t making.”
“We just know what’s at stake,” he added. “We want to make the playoffs. We want to win the Stanley Cup. I think, right now, we’re capitalizing on some of our chances. We’re scoring big goals at the right time now.”
Practice Doesn’t Always Make Perfect
This late in the season, especially for teams still in the playoff hunt, rest becomes increasingly important to an NHL team. Sometimes, it’s more important than practicing, and that’s what the Los Angeles Kings decided on March 13, when they opted for off-ice workouts, meetings, and studying video.
“We’re going over lots of last night’s game,” said head coach Darryl Sutter. “Lots of treatments. Guys are doing their off-ice stuff.”
“It’s not necessary that they have to skate for the guys to get their exercise,” added Sutter. “There’s guys who don’t play many minutes who need to make sure they maintain their conditioning, there’s guys that aren’t playing at all who need to, and there’s guys who need to refuel.”
Speaking of refueling, while talking about how the team has approached each of the last three seasons, given that they’ve gone so deep into the playoffs in each of those years, Sutter admitted that the toll of playing so much hockey over the past three seasons has been a factor this year.
“Our team has played into the summer the last three years,” Sutter noted. “What that affects is when a team ends their schedule on April 11. There’s a big difference with being done on April 11 and June 20, in terms of the athlete being able to recover for the following season.”
“I just think that when we hit a rough spot this year, it wasn’t anything to do with want, desire, need, or anything like that. I think we had some guys hit a wall from the last three years. But the last six weeks, those guys have played really well for us.”
How has Sutter handled his team this season, given that some of the top players had been struggling all season long?
“I think we’ve done it differently every year,” he noted. “Obviously, the first year, a lot of us hadn’t been to a training camp together—that first Cup team. A lot of players who were on that team weren’t on the Conference Final team. It’s four different teams. What you do is handle individuals differently. You handle how we dealt with training camp this year, and we did handle it really well, as players, and as a staff.”
“Handling it differently would be that the handful of guys who have been through three great playoff runs here—you trust’em,” he added.
LEAD PHOTO: Los Angeles Kings left wing Marian Gaborik, shown here at a recent practice. Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography.
Off-Day Interviews, March 13, 2015 via FrozenRoyaltyNHL on YouTube
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