Rapid Reaction, feat. Eric Stephens:
Willie Desjardins, on the win:
I thought we had a good first period. I thought the guys played hard, they blocked lots of shots in that first period. We didn’t maintain the game as well as we wanted, but the first period was a good start, and we’ll build on that.
Desjardins, on what he was thinking about immediately before the game:
I guess I’m thinking about probably the first five minutes, like, just make sure we get out and get going. I wanted to play with tempo tonight, so I wanted to keep our shifts short, so I’m thinking about those things. You have a few keys in the game that you really want to talk to the guys about and focus on, so you’re thinking about those things on the bench. [Reporter: Any personal thoughts?] No, just all game. You’re just totally thinking of what you need to do to win. [Reporter: Were there any jitters at all?] No, it was good to get back. You’re sitting there and you’re waiting in the room, and it’s like the game’s never going to start. You want it to start. But it was good to get back in. It’s been a while since I’ve been on that bench. The pace was good, and there were some heavy boys on both teams.
Desjardins, on what he liked about the team’s pace, attack and five-man units:
It was good. We had every unit going, like, all four lines played well. And good minutes, too. In the first period, lots of guys had ice time and played well. We got a little bit off every line, which was good, too. The specialty teams were good. We got the power play goal, we killed off two big penalties when we needed ‘em. I thought everybody contributed.
Desjardins, on what he’ll do with the game puck:
I don’t know if I get it or not. Billy was on the bench for the first time, too, so maybe he’ll take it off me, so I’m not sure.
Desjardins, on Jack Campbell’s outlet pass, and whether that’s a style he wants to see:
Yeah, Jack just made that happen on his own. Sometimes guys step up and make big plays, and Jack made a big play. He likes to handle the puck. But we do want to play quicker, and I thought we did a good job at parts of the game playing quicker. Anaheim’s a good team. You have to always know that, and they’ll play hard. They came in and played hard, and it was a tough game for us. [Reporter: Most goalies don’t handle the puck as well as they think they do. Have you been able to judge how good a puck handler he is?] Ah, not yet. One game. I had Jack before, though, and Jack was pretty good before with the puck. He is confident with it, and he likes to handle it, and that was a good play. But the one goal they got, we didn’t make the handoff quite as well on that one, and if that would’ve been clean, we probably would’ve gotten out of our zone.
Desjardins, on whether the Kings settled in after scoring three times on John Gibson:
Yeah, I think we did, but you get that lead and all of a sudden you start sitting back a little bit and they start coming. I think when we get up, we’ve got to keep pushing harder. I thought we just laid off ‘em a little bit. They had a couple chances to get back in the game.
Desjardins, on whether anything – other than Kyle Clifford’s backhander – surprised him:
He made a couple good plays. No, I thought everybody played pretty well, as I expected. I think Iafallo was pretty good. Like, he has more speed than I thought. Lewis is pretty quick, too, so there’s a couple guys that are a little quicker than I thought, maybe. I thought there was good balance throughout the lines.
Desjardins, on whether he sees the potential to roll four lines:
Yeah, I want to roll four. I think that’s the best way to play. If we can roll four, we can stay fresh and we can play hard. It’s an adjustment for the guys, too. Not only do I adjust to the team, all of a sudden they get somebody doing different things, and it’s a little bit hard for them right away, too. I thought they did a good job managing, and I thought they tried to buy in. I thought they tried to do what we wanted them to do.
Desjardins, on Jake Muzzin’s “engaged” play:
It was good. He’s a physical presence and he plays hard, and we need that back there.
Desjardins, on going behind the bench “again and again” through the next 68 games:
Yeah, you do. That’s the challenge, though. Our first period was good. We’ve got to build on that, so we carry that deeper and deeper into games so we kind of wear teams down. We didn’t do it tonight, but that’s a start, and two in a row’s pretty good.
Desjardins, on anything else that the team can build on:
I think that the specialty teams certainly were good. Obviously that made a big difference in the game. We can get our D moving more. The one rush was created because our D jumped, and there were a couple times where our D stepped up and made big plays. I think we can keep building on that and get our D more involved.
Desjardins, on the message to the team at the start of the game:
I talk about the first five minutes of every period, that they’re important. We’ve got to come out hard for that. We know Anaheim’s a good team. The guys want to get things going a little bit more, but a big part of success is confidence, and I don’t think our confidence is great right now. I think at times we kind of fell back, but there’s little adjustments we can make that’ll make us better.
Kyle Clifford, on his goal:
Credit to Marty there, he made a great play. That’s the type of player he is, he’s aware out there, and it was just a good play all around by him.
Clifford, on being able to get a win for Willie Desjardins’ first game as head coach:
It’s good. We came prepared to play today and I thought our pace was up. We played hard, we played with passion, and we just kept it short out there and just kept rolling ‘em over.
Clifford, on whether Desjardins keeping the lines intact is a sign of him trusting the team:
You know, all four lines were going tonight and all three D-pairing and obviously Soupy was outstanding again out there tonight, so it just makes it easy on the coach when everyone’s playing well.
Clifford, on the level of passion in tonight’s game:
I think the passion is in the puck battles and winning loose puck battles and I thought we did a good job early coming up with the wins one-on-ones and then the speed off the play, you’re able to make a play and hit our centers who are pretty quick as well.
Clifford, on if he has any words for people who say this team is old and slow:
Yeah, I don’t think they’re old and I don’t think they’re slow. You look at Kopi’s year last year and Brownie’s year last year, those are two core veteran guys who had outstanding years. You look when Brownie comes back this year– he’s an emotional leader out there and doesn’t say a whole lot in the room, but he carries this team and I think there’s a lot of guys that do that. You know, people can say what they want, but we know the truth in here.
Clifford, on if his goal was a hint to Desjardins that he deserves top-six minutes:
You know, I know my game–nothing’s changing.
Clifford, on winning three of the last four games:
That’s the direction we want to head. We want to keep winning. We want to win on a consistent basis. We want to win every night. It’s hard to win in this league and it’s going to take everybody.
Clifford, on if tonight’s game felt like it had more of an attacking mindset:
I just thought tonight everybody played together–we were five up and we were five back–so it makes it easy when everybody’s working coming back into the D-zone and you get turnovers and it’s easier to attack that way.
Jack Campbell, if there was more emotion in tonight’s game:
Absolutely. I mean, I think the emotion was visible but like, you could hear it too. I think everybody was excited and fired up. I thought we came out and played a great first 20 and that’s what kind of got us going and then we just kept going from there. So it’s an exciting start, but we’ve got to keep going.
Campbell, on his outlet pass to Toffoli that led to an assist on Kovalchuk’s goal:
I just saw them all changing. Usually you see kind of the first guy come up, make sure I can’t make a direct pass, but they call kind of went to the bench so I just thought it’d be smart play to throw it up and Ty make a great play to chip it over to Kovy. And I mean, the guy’s a goal scorer, and it’s fun to watch and he put it in. It was a big goal for our team.
Campbell, on Desjardins’ demeanor before the game and during intermissions:
I think it was really good. He’s got a real level of demeanor and I think that calm demeanor helps you stay calm and I thought the boys really responded to everything he said and stuck to the game plan and it was just a really good start for us.
Ilya Kovalchuk, on his goal off of Campbell’s stretch pass:
Obviously all game he played unbelievable. He made some key saves at the right time for us and that play he made, you know he looked like Marty Brodeur there. So that’s great when the goalie can handle the puck like that and it’s very easy for the D, makes it easier for them.
Kovalchuk, on whether anything helped energize the team for Desjardins’ first game as head coach:
It’s just a wakeup call for everybody. We take full responsibility for Johnny getting fired. He was here a long time and he was very successful with the guys and it’s on us. So we just looked in the mirror and talked to ourselves on what we can do better and I think that we were ready to play from the first minute today and our power play was good, but especially our penalty killing. I think they did a great job.
–With the win, Los Angeles improved to 61-51-26 all-time against Anaheim, a record that includes a home mark of 37-21-11. This was only the eighth game of the last 25 between that teams that was decided by more than one goal. These teams have three games remaining: March 10 and April 5 at Honda Center, and March 23 at Staples Center.
–With the win, the Kings improved to 1-3-1 against the Western Conference, 1-0-1 against the Pacific Division, 3-6 in games decided by three or more goals, 4-1-0 when scoring first, 3-0-0 when leading after the first period, 4-0-0 when leading after the second period and 3-4-1 when outshot by their opponent. The Ducks outshot an opponent for only the fourth time in 16 games.
–Los Angeles is 5-for-14 on the man advantage over the last four games and has a power play goal in each game. Over the last five games, they have killed off all 17 shorthanded situations.
–The Kings blocked 23 shots. Jake Muzzin and Drew Doughty tied with a game-high five blocks.
–Ilya Kovalchuk (1-2=3) tallied his third multi-point game in the last four games and extended his assist streak to four games (3-6=9). It is the longest assist streak by a King this season.
–By assisting on Dustin Brown’s goal, Jeff Carter (0-1=1) lengthened his assist streak to three games (2-3=5).
–Jack Campbell (0-1=1) recorded his first career NHL assist. He is the 33rd different Kings goaltender to record an assist.
–Los Angeles attempted 49 shots (27 on goal, 9 blocked, 13 missed). Anaheim attempted 66 shots (31 on goal, 23 blocked, 12 missed). Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell tied with a game-high four shots on goal. All Anaheim skaters finished with at least one shot on goal.
–The Kings won 33-of-77 faceoffs (43%). Adrian Kempe won 9-of-16, Anze Kopitar won 9-of-21, Ilya Kovalchuk won 1-of-3, Alex Iafallo won 0-of-1, Trevor Lewis won 1-of-1, Nate Thompson won 7-of-15 and Jeff Carter won 6-of-20.
The Kings are scheduled to practice at Toyota Sports Center at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 7.
–Lead photo via Harry How/Getty Images