Tyler Toffoli, who came into training camp last year with boatloads of promise, also entered with a dearth of confidence.
“Almost right as soon as I got to camp, I was nervous,” he said of the fall of 2013. “I knew I was fighting for a spot. Obviously this year I’m still fighting for a spot, but I feel like I’m getting a lot of chances, a lot of power play and penalty kill and playing a lot, so I’ve just got to try and prove to Darryl, prove to Payner and Johnny and Dean and everybody that I deserve to play, and I can play.”
He did so emphatically with a breakaway snipe and a laser-guided assist on Dwight King’s goal in a come-from-behind 4-3 shootout win over a more senior Anaheim Ducks squad at Staples Center on Thursday night.
Oh yeah, he scored on a slapshot from the slot in the shootout, too.
The effort earned him the game’s first star.
“He had a tough camp last year,” Darryl Sutter said when asked about the differences between the winger’s last two training camps.
“So the difference in demeanor would be two games in he’s playing very well and last year he struggled.”
Is he more mature?
“I mean, we get along good, and he’s pretty open with you,” Sutter said.
Toffoli said any struggles from a season ago weren’t caused by a temporary experiment to use him at left wing.
“A couple of the games I was playing with Carts and Kopi, and we did well, and then we traded for Gabby,” he said. “Obviously that was good, but I dopn’t really care where I play. I just want to play as much as I can and help the team win.”
He certainly did so on Thursday, finishing with a game-high nine shot attempts in 17:29 of action.
Tyler Toffoli, on how the team took a step forward in Thursday’s win:
I think we stujk together. We had a lot of young guys playing tonight, first game. I think Marty and Kinger, Cliffy, Noley did a great job kind of keeping everybody in it, and we stuck to our game. We started a little slow, slower than we would’ve wanted to, but I think it was kind of expected with the amount of younger players we had in the lineup. We came together and finished strong.
Toffoli, on the pace of the game:
Yeah, I think at the start everybody was a little tentative and afraid to make mistakes. I think as the game went on we were trying to make better plays and chip in in getting pucks deep, which is our type of hockey. Once we started doing that, we started scoring goals and came out with the win.
Toffoli, on his third period breakaway:
The past hit the D-man’s skate and I just kind of chipped it and skated as hard as I could to get the breakaway. I saw the high glove was open and just kind of layed it up there.