For a player with as much promise as Tyler Toffoli, is it fair to consider his recent contributions in the Western Conference Semifinals as “unsung?”
Since joining the Kings’ lineup in Game 5 of the St. Louis series, Toffoli has provided some depth contributions that have begun to show up on the scoresheet. He took five shots and was credited with a game-winning assist in the come-from-behind victory in Game 2 before scoring on a crisp backhand – the only shot of the game he took – in the Game 3 overtime loss. His 12:34 of ice time was his highest total of the playoffs and the most ice time he had earned since logging 13:53 in a 3-1 loss at Detroit on April 24.
In the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Sutter memorably recalled the ingredients that produce extended playoff runs. “Goaltenders, special teams, top players, unsung heroes and discipline. Write it down and don’t forget it,” he mentioned last spring.
Lest we get too caught up in Toffoli hype, there’s still a ways to go before the 21-year-old named as the AHL’s top rookie shifts from the “unsung heroes” to the “top players” category.
Still, his participation will serve the team well in the long-term in addition to his here-and-now contributions, according to Dustin Brown.
“I think it’s just an opportunity, right? The whole year has been an opportunity for him to step into the lineup, and he’s done a good job of capitalizing on his opportunity,” Brown said. “The experience now he gets in the moment. It’s more down-the-road, going into next year that it’s really going to help him with his confidence and coming in here and earning a spot.”
Tyler Toffoli, whether his confidence has risen:
“I think it’s kind of been the same. I mean obviously getting more opportunities, playing more minutes, means a lot. You got to kind of take it and run with it, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do. Just trying to make plays. You’ve got to be confident making plays. If you kind of second –guess yourself, you’ll run out of time or space, so you’ve just got to be confidence and just do the things that you’ve been doing your whole life.”
On earning important minutes late in games:
“I don’t think that really affects you. It’s just like any other part of the game. You’ve just got to go play your best and just do whatever you can.”
On the mood of the team after the Game 3 loss:
“Obviously it’s tough losing games, especially in overtime, but I think we forgot about it. We haven’t talked about it, and we’re ready to go there tomorrow and play a good game.”
On board and puck battles in the NHL as compared to the AHL:
“Oh, it’s tougher. The guys are bigger and they have better sticks. You just have got to go in there and be willing to pay the price and make a play from it.”
On his first period goal in San Jose in Game 3:
“Lewie, Penns were good. Lewie was good as the first guy, and then Penns was good down the wall, and I was just coming in off a change. Carts made a change. So their D-man pretty much passed it right to me, so I just took it and shot it.”
On scoring on a backhand:
“Yeah, well I lost it for a second, and then I found it and just kind of fired it. I didn’t even see it go in. I just saw all the guys come at me, so it was good.”