NHL Rookie Showdown opens tonight; MacDermid, Zykov speak - LA Kings Insider

After four days of battling against fellow teammates and prospects, the Los Angeles Kings will welcome an official opponent into Toyota Sports Center when the Arizona Coyotes visit for the NHL Rookie Showdown on Tuesday (6:00 p.m.; presented by Sungevity) and Wednesday (2:00 p.m.; presented by Lenny and Larry’s).

“I think all the guys are ready to go tonight,” defenseman Kurtis MacDermid said. “We’re going to use what we learned the past few days at practice in a game situation. It’ll be good.”

Though the games will receive a Kings game ops treatment with Dave Joseph, Dieter Ruehle, the L.A. Kings Ice Crew and Bailey, the two games will not feature streaming audio or video. LA Kings Insider will host a live, updating game blog.

As happens around these parts on game days, there was a hardened focus when speaking with players as they came off the ice following the morning skate. LA Kings Insider will publish rosters and expected lineups later today, but two of the players who spoke with LAKI this morning – MacDermid and Valentin Zykov – are both expected to be in uniform this evening. They spoke about their progress in rookie camp and what they’re expecting out of the upcoming season in the quotes below.

CLICK HERE for an Arizona Republic preview from the Coyotes’ perspective.

Valentin Zykov, on whether he tries to set an example for the younger skaters:
I just focus on doing the right things that the coach is asking. Pretty much just do whatever they say.

Zykov, on his relationship with Mike Stothers:
I’ll say this, it’s the simplest relationship between the player and the coach can be. He’s a tough coach. He’ll make sure everyone is doing what he’s asking, like playing hard, playing, competing. I can’t really say much about him.

Zykov, on whether he’s excited to play in a game setting:
Yeah, it’s always exciting. It was a long summer. I didn’t play for a long time. I’m very excited to play the first game of this season.

Zykov, on memories of playing in the rookie games against Arizona last year:
It’s hard to say. It was one year ago. [Reporter: Was it nervousness or excitement?] Lots of excitement.

Zykov, on what the development staff wants the team to focus on tonight:
Play hard and compete, that’s the first two things that he wants us to do.

Zykov, on whether he’s focused broadly on the year ahead:
I try to focus day by day. I’m not really [looking] too far ahead.

Zykov, on venturing to be used in all situations in Ontario this season:
I’ll do whatever coach wants me to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s PK or PP.

Zykov, on whether he has any expectations for the upcoming season:
There’s always expectation. But as I said, I’m not trying to look too far forward.


Kurtis MacDermid, on what progressed in his final OHL season:
It was good to go back last year and just get a lot of ice time and work on all parts of my game. I think everything about my game has gotten better. I really have to continue that going forward.

MacDermid, on how he has refined his first pass and exiting the defensive zone:
It’s a combination of everything. The coaches in Erie, they’re a big help and learned a lot. The development staff here in LA is the best in the league. They did a lot of work with me and the coaches here as well. So everybody has been helping out and I’ve just been taking in everything I can.

MacDermid, on how facing the forwards in the OHL helped develop his game:
Going against the best forwards, you’re only going to get better if you learn from your mistakes and you just have to keep competing and working hard on a daily basis.

MacDermid, on how facing Connor MacDavid in practice affected his game:
That was something I really focused on during practice, when I went up against him, trying to shut him down. He’s a generational talent and I learned a lot from him with his speed and quickness and stuff like that, you just have to be ready at all times. [Reporter: How’d it go against him? Did you have his number?] I think it went both ways.

MacDermid, on how his physical play fits within the Kings organization:
That’s the way they play, all five guys. Everyone is playing tough and physical and standing up for each other. So that’s a big part of my game and I’m going to take it to it.

MacDermid, on his expectations for trying to earn a spot with Ontario this year:
Just come in here, work hard, get better and things will happen. I just have to keep working hard on a daily basis and get better.

Erie Otters v London Knights