The LA Kings skated to a 4-3 defeat against the Arizona Coyotes in the home half of a split-squad set of preseason games. Alec Martinez, Drew Doughty and Dustin Brown found the back of the net for the Kings, who threw 41 shots on former LAK netminder Darcy Kuemper.
Below are post-game reactions from Kings Head Coach John Stevens and forward Alex Iafallo.
On what he liked and didn’t like from the game
Well, it’s the first preseason game and I think one of our areas of focus this year was going to be trying to create more on the forecheck and I didn’t think our forecheck……there’s times where it was effective for us and there were times where it wasn’t, so that’s probably the area of concern for me now. They put pucks in good places, they’re a working lineup, they came in here and played hard and give up a lot of time and space so I think your forecheck’s got to create for you so I thought there were times it did but there were times, too many in-and-outs, we had to chase the puck back to our zone. It was obviously a first game but it’s something we’re going to try and improve on each step of the way.
On Alex Iafallo’s play
With Adrian and Alex, I thought they carried a lot of speed out there, created some good opportunities, drew penalties with their work, so that’s obviously encouraging. I think Alex is a guy, with a year under his belt, a little bit stronger, a little more mature with that experience in the league now, he knows what to expect. I think he wants to make a difference and I thought he was a good player for us tonight.
On the possibilities of two good forecheckers in Iafallo and Kempe on the same line
We think Alex can play in our Top 9 – he played with [Kopitar] last year. He does a lot of really good things, he’s responsible, he’s got speed, he makes plays, we think he can score more than he did last year. I think that line, [Lewis] was there quite a bit in training camp as well, in preseason with the two games in one day it changes that a little bit, but I think that line is a responsible line. I think that line carries a lot of speed, all three of them, if they play together, and I think they have the ability to create some offense. That line can really get on top of people and force turnovers with the forecheck and I think they can, depending on how everything irons out with the full lineup, they’re going to play special teams on one side of the puck for sure, they become an important group.
On that line creating depth scoring throughout the lineup
We’re hoping we can get to four lines with Thompson and Etem, it just depends who plays with them and plays really well in preseason. Thompson is another guy who gives you an element there, [Clifford] is a good forechecker, so I think to play with the pace the game is played at now, you’re going to need contributions from four lines. We found out last year, if you don’t get scoring outside of one line, you’re not going to go very far and that’s certainly something we want to improve on this year.
On his reaction to being told he’d be worked in on the power play this season
To just keep doing my job. I know I didn’t have much last year, I was just watching and I was honored enough to watch all the veteran players, pick up on little things. It’s good we got a lot of power plays out there today to kind of get things rolling and understand the system.
On his first impressions of the team tonight
In spots we were good. I feel like we’ve got to get our forecheck going, making sure we’re keeping it down in the zone instead of quick outs. We’ve got to keep playing fast and keep playing with speed and definitely reduce the goals [against] and just keep scoring, that’s huge. Finding that soft area and finishing pucks as hard as we can.
On his partnership with Kempe
It’s good. We communicate a lot on the bench and off the bench, so it’s real good to work with him and use our speed together. It’s a good combo. Even working down low, he’s always talking and we’re flying so we’ve just got to keep doing that and keep using our speed.
On whether he wondered if he’d see special teams work early in the year
We’ve got a pretty big power-play lineup and I knew that coming in. I just wanted to keep playing my game and whenever I would get the opportunity, I wanted to make sure it counted. It’s good getting power-play time, I know last preseason I didn’t so it’s good to get used to it out there and understand what’s going on.
On the ideal number of preseason games to get ready for the regular season
I feel like three or four, good preseason games, just to kind of get that rust off and get a feel for how your team is looking and how you want to play every game. That would be good for us to get back in it and make sure we’re doing everything right.