It was an early preseason game between a pair of teams that rested their more veteran premier players, but in the Kings’ 5-1 win (6-1 if we’re counting Tyler Toffoli’s “sudden death overtime” goal) in Monday’s preseason opener, several players stood out in a game that featured a surplus of special teams time.
One of those players was Andy Andreoff. Though Arizona’s only goal deflected off his skate on an Anthony Duclair centering feed, Andreoff was assertive with the puck and well-positioned without it on Monday and generated two quality odd-man rushes while shorthanded.
“I think the first one – the two on one that happened – there was a loose puck that Cliffy made a good play with his stick, and it bounced up, so I tried to take advantage of that, but I just missed out on that,” he said of a play in which he deftly carried the puck from the right wing perimeter to the middle of the slot before snapping off a shot that Andres Lindback fought off. “The second one, I think I used my stick there, I faked [the defender] out and got a good bounce there and almost put it in.”
“It gave me a little better of an opportunity, but the next time I’ll try and put it in or pass it over to Cliffy,” he said.
Andreoff, who made 18 appearances last season and totaled two goals and three points, has always projected as a hard-nosed player. There were challenges in forming and asserting his identity last season, but with nearly a full year spent with the big club, he’s more prepared to take the leap and enter into the lineup more regularly in 2015-16.
“Yeah, it helps that I have a year under my belt. The experience helps a lot,” he said. “When you have the puck you [feel like you] have more time, and you look around before you get the puck. But I feel pretty good out there so far, so hopefully I can carry in on tonight.”
He’ll be tasked with building on a strong performance in round two this evening, when he’ll face the Coyotes as a left wing opposite Brian O’Neill on a line centered by Jordan Weal.
Darryl Sutter offered a checklist of what Andreoff’s focus should be as he prepares for his second full season.
“Basically play more minutes, be a situation guy, play with discipline, play with pace,” he said. “Quite honest, the very same dialogue that we’ve had lots of the [younger players] – Shoresy, Wealer. There’s an opportunity for one, two or three of those guys to play more or play regularly, so that’s what we’re looking for.”
“I mean, if we’re healthy, nobody’s taking Kopitar’s place and nobody’s taking Carter’s place, and you know Lewie’s in there somewhere, so, you know what? As I said before camp, let it play itself out,” Sutter said. “It’s one game against not a veteran team, and we didn’t have a veteran team, so as it goes along, you’ll see how guys size up, quite honest, against different competition. Andy’s line – Andy, Cliffy – did a good job penalty killing last night. They had some good forechecking, situations [play]. You’ve got to produce. We’ll be fair, and everybody’s going to say they had a good opportunity.”
Andy Andreoff, on how his emphasis changes when playing wing as opposed to center:
For me, I just try to keep it simple for the start. Just play the systems and you’ll be fine. If you try too much, you’ll mess up. So for me as a third-fourth line, I just try and keep it simple. Communicating down low helps a lot, which I’ve been trying to work on that, and just being quicker to the puck.
Andreoff, on whether he got what he wanted out of his first preseason game:
Yeah, absolutely. I felt like everyone played really well. I was pretty impressed with some of the younger guys too that played really well, so hopefully we can bring it out there tonight.
Andreoff, on whether he’d like to play himself into the penalty killing conversation:
Yeah, absolutely. Especially in these exhibition games, I think I need to take advantage of my opportunities with penalty killing. First and foremost, winning faceoffs. If they can trust me in the faceoff dot, then hopefully there’s more penalty killing. Hopefully I can keep getting the opportunity and take advantage of it.