Several additional quotes from this morning’s media availability are below. By now, you’re probably aware of most of the details: Toronto leads the league with an average of 4.6 goals per game, and Auston Matthews is tied for fourth in the league with 12 points and ranks third with seven goals. On the other hand, there’s Jonathan Quick, whose 1.99 goals-against average and .938 save percentage rank third, as well as Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, who are tied with a team-high 11 points.
One of the factors in attempting to limit Toronto’s aggressive attack will be the ability of the L.A. forwards to get in on the forecheck, pinning the Maple Leafs defenders deep in their own zone. Earlier today, LA Kings Insider spoke with Jake Muzzin and Derek Forbort about defending the rush and working against a high-energy attack, and Alex Iafallo about what he’s looking to transfer from the Columbus game into tonight’s match-up.
Jake Muzzin, on whether his horse trophy from the China Games continues to work its magic:
Yeah, it’s got some special powers. Just trying to play good hockey. As a team, we’re gelling right now. Everyone’s going, so we’ve got to continue with it. Continue pushing ourselves to get better. There are areas where we can improve. Obviously we’re off to a good start, but it’s a long season, so we’ve got to stay with it continually to get better.
Muzzin, on the aspects of his game that are coming along well:
Just playing sound, solid defensive game. Points will come and go. Points are coming right now, but that’s not my focus. We want to play the game to win, and you’ve got to be a sound, defensive guy first, and points come and go, like I said. I’m not too worried about them, but more worried about keeping the puck out of my net.
Muzzin, on defensive zone success originating from physical play around the net:
It’s all that stuff – being physical, hard guy to play against, good on the rush, good puck moving guy, getting the puck out, smart plays. It’s all intertwined with each other, and you have to do it every night. I mean, Columbus was a tough game. They’ve got a lot of skill, and we come into here, it’s a tough game. I think they’ve got the most goals-for in the league, so we’ve got to play a solid defensive game and check well, and our win will come from that.
Muzzin, on defending against strong rush teams:
It’s a full team. It’s not just the D. They’re a good rush team, so our gaps have to be tight, and we need good back pressure from our forwards. That eliminates pull-ups, speed through, time to make the east-west plays, because those are tough to defend. It’s going to be a full team effort, and we’re going to need everyone to be on their game tonight.
Derek Forbort, on what to be aware of on Toronto’s power play:
They’ve got a lot of really high-end forwards. I think the biggest thing is being good up-ice and not letting them set up, and hopefully from there we can get good pressure, because when they get set up and they’re moving the puck, they’re a pretty dangerous power play.
Forbort, on Toronto’s pace and rush ability:
They’ve got a lot of mobile defensemen that are getting up in the play a lot. If we do a good job at checking them, hopefully they won’t get that fourth man on the rush for the odd-man. They’ve got a lot of skilled guys so they’re going to get something, but we’ve got to do a good job of getting numbers back and shutting them down.
Forbort, on the adjustments the team made against Columbus on Saturday:
We just settled in. They came out hot. They’re a really good rush team, and they were getting a lot of pucks to the net. Some of it kind of caught us a little off-guard, but once we settled in in the second and third, we started playing our game.
Alex Iafallo, on what he’ll look to transfer from the Columbus game into tonight’s game:
Keep forechecking, using our speed. Stay on their defensemen, create a lot of offense. That’s what we’ve been working on the last couple weeks, so we’re going to keep doing it.
-Lead photo via Jamie Sabau/NHLI