Good afternoon from Toyota Sports Center, Insiders. Several items of note:
-The team held off-ice workouts and did not practice today. The only player to take the ice was Brayden McNabb, who is recovering from a broken collarbone. In addition to handling some pucks on his own, he also got in some time with former U.S. Olympic speedskater David Cruikshank, whom he worked with over the most recent off-season.
-I hope to offer a more comprehensive update in the coming weeks, as noted in yesterday’s podcast, but there’s still no real establishment of a timeline for a potential Jonathan Quick return in the second half of the season. The goaltender, who suffered a groin injury in the first period of the season, isn’t yet close to returning to the ice. “Too far out yet to tell,” one hockey operations source said earlier today.
-The decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to search for alternate routes for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline was cheered by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and those who had supported their efforts to protect their land and their right to have access to fresh water. Dwight King, who is of Métis heritage, and Jordan Nolan, who is of both Ojibwa and Maliseet descent, have followed the situation closely for several months and both publicly voiced their support towards the Standing Rock’s cause; King wore an I Stand with Standing Rock T-shirt to the practice rink last week, and Nolan voiced his support via Twitter on Saturday. Why become involved? “It’s a little bit of cultural and also just environmental, too. It’s a little bit of both,” King said. “Obviously you need the earth and mother nature as it is to keep this world going. As far as the people’s land and the right to have fresh water, obviously it’s the possibility that they’re worried about that and that would affect a lot of fresh water, as I read. That kind of provides their livelihood, and that’s not just a small number of people, it’s a pretty big number of people in that area.” I’ll have a story up this afternoon on the players’ advocacy of environmental and indigenous causes that grew in scope over recent months prior to the Army’s decision on Sunday.
-On hockey topics, I asked Darryl Sutter about the team’s recent scoring spike, and yes, it is understood that a small sample size is inherent. But ever since Los Angeles was shut out in three consecutive games, they’ve averaged 3.13 goals per game over their last 15 and put four pucks past a Montreal team that relies on excellent goaltending and defensive play.
Darryl Sutter, on the team’s recent scoring spike, despite challenges in personnel:
I think secondary scoring is critical. We just went through that with Teddy. We need production out of that secondary part of it. What’s not quite right is that everybody assumed that – for example, a boy like Teddy, everybody said it was for Looch. Well, that’s different. Looch is a top-end guy. That’s a 25-to-30 goal scorer. How many did he score, 25 last year? [Reporter: 20.] What did he have, 55 points? So that’s 55 goals. I think what you’re looking for is the secondary scoring. Well, what we were looking for, don’t forget, Kris Versteeg’s goals, Vinny Lecavalier’s goals, and then we were trying to get Gabby and Brownie back to secondary scoring goals, right? So we’re still very much in that place – that, and improve that. We’re still very much [in that], so when you compare it to other teams in the league, well, that’s a weekly thing. That is a weekly thing. As long as you’re getting your scoring opportunities from the areas that you score goals from from those players, then you can get into the percentages part, which is a percentage-to-score part. [Reporter: But are those guys scoring too much? Kopi doesn’t have a ton, Tyler doesn’t have a ton. Not to take away from the other parts of their game that have been very good, obviously.] I think lately we’ve gotten some goals from the fourth line, which greatly improves. If you were just doing it strictly on the fourth line numbers, so we’ve played how many games? [Reporter: 25.] So say Cliffy, Jordie, Devin, Shoresy, so you multiply it out. What are they – is that a fourth line number? So you’re still looking for third line numbers, right? You’re still looking for 15 goals out of somebody, you’re still looking for 20 goals out of somebody, prorating it. That’s what you’re trying to do. To say that it’s good right now, well, that looks good right now. It’s got to play itself out, because 10 games ago you wouldn’t have said that. Hey, it’s got to play itself out in the average. You say, ‘Kopi’s only got two.’ Yeah, Kopi should have five or six. He’s missed a number of games, but the quality opportunities of that line, whoever he plays with, they have to produce. That’s how it works. We break it down into stretches of games, well, if you go over the last stretch of games, Jeff’s been a real hot guy. Some of that’s power play-related. The line has to be productive five-on-five. The wingers have to be more productive, if you look at our last stretch. So it’s how you’re able to sustain it over the course, and a lot of it is home/road-related, trip-related, back-to-back-related. That’s how you get even a better read on it instead of the big part. [Reporter: They sustained it for a while. I mean, ever since the three consecutive without scoring, it’s been 3.14 or 3.17 or something like that.] Still, the three number is the number, which should allow you to win many games. And how many teams are going to score 242 goals? 246 goals? There’s probably not [many].