Opportunity hasn’t consistently arisen for Andy Andreoff, who played his 14th game of the season on Saturday and produced one of his more memorable moments when he snapped off a clean, quick shot off the rush that Pekka Rinne fought off with his shoulder before the puck caromed off the far post and away from a high-tension area.
“I was just trying to get it off, get it on the net, create a rebound, something like that,” he said. “I ended up hitting the post there. At least we’re getting the chances out there and hopefully next time the next one will go in.”
By this point, he’s probably due for one. He’s shown both some strong flashes as well as moments of learning and adjusting to the pace of having graduated to the highest level of hockey. One other recent high moment was a sequence at the end of a first period two weeks ago in which he and Jordan Nolan goaded Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien into minor penalties that led to a Los Angeles power play.
Noting Andreoff played a positionally sound game on Saturday, John Stevens says that Andreoff has a role they’re looking for him to continue to chisel out.
“He has to be a guy that plays a really sound positional game and brings energy to our team in a real disciplined sense – getting pucks through the neutral zone and being a good defender and spending time in the offensive zone getting pucks to the net and bringing energy to our team,” Stevens said.
With Jarret Stoll out for an indeterminate amount of time and no call-ups on the horizon at this point, that opportunity is certainly there for the 23-year-old who posted five goals, 10 points and a plus-eight rating over seven games of an AHL conditioning stint in Manchester earlier this season.
“We all think a lot of Andy, it’s just last night was probably a tough game to come in and play. We probably didn’t play that well, but it’s up to these young guys when they do get in the lineup to take advantage of it no matter what’s going on.”
That ability to take advantage of a key situation comes during a critical stretch of the season as the Kings are also utilizing another rookie center in their late season playoff push.
“Well, it’s a good opportunity for him to come in and play,” Stevens said. “Like I said, I don’t think anybody on our team jumped off the map last night in terms of being a really high-end performer, but Andy hasn’t played in a while. I thought positionally he was sound, he has the ability to take pucks to the middle of the ice.”
He’ll now have the opportunity to get a few more repetitions.
“It’s been a long year, but I’m kind of getting used to it,” he said. “You just have to make sure you’re being the hardest worker in practice and being ready for the opportunity, like now.”
Andy Andreoff, on his performance against Nashville:
For myself, I thought our line played all right. We created a little energy and couple chances there in the first, second period. But for the whole team, I thought we’ve got a lot to learn after that game. You know if you make a little error there against a good team like that, they’re going to capitalize. So we definitely have to watch out for that for next time.
Andreoff, on what the team wants him to focus on:
I think they’ve been letting me know throughout the whole year. I haven’t played that much, but they’re just trying to make sure I’m ready every time I get the chance. I guess this could be my shot maybe. Hopefully I’ll get a couple games in and hopefully Stollie gets back soon and recovers quick, but if I get a couple games in I have to make sure I’m good in the D-zone, capitalizing on my chances and playing hard.
Andreoff, on whether he feels his shot has improved from the beginning of the season:
Yeah, these guys have been helping me a lot – the development crew and assistant coaches and stuff like that. When I’m not playing, I’m always working on a quick release and quick feet and stuff like that. It’s been getting a little bit better.
Andreoff, on trying to generate game situations in practice:
We always kind of watch video before a game and stuff. If I’m going against a third line center, fourth line center, I’m always watching video before and seeing what they do on the draws and what they have in the D-zone and stuff like that. Just being prepared like that, which helps a lot. In practice, I work on draws all the time and role playing and just being ready.