Stevens on Saturday's win, Iafallo's role on Kopitar's line, Leafs, hot start - LA Kings Insider

On Saturday’s win at Columbus:
At the end of the day we thought it was a really good win, obviously. It was a little bit loose in the beginning. We had some things we were aware of we didn’t handle very well. They’re a really heavy team down low. Their D get really involved in the rush and I think the D are a real key to their hockey team, but probably the thing we were most pleased with, we really tightened up in the third period when it was a tied game on the road. I think we only gave up one chance in the third period and created – I think it was five by our count. So, I think when you get a situation like that when you’ve got a chance to win a game on the road and you need a really solid 20 minutes, we got it, and I thought our best players really led the hockey team last night. All the guys that wear letters, all the veteran guys on the hockey team were clearly our best players last night, … which was great to see.

On Alex Iafallo’s role on Anze Kopitar’s line:
I think he’s been a good fit on that line because he’s a real working player. He’s a real smart player. He’s been coached very well along the way. He moves his feet all the time, he’s got good angles, he forces players into confined space, and because he forced a lot of turnovers and he’s got a really good skill set and vision when he gets the puck. He’s got a really well-rounded, 200-foot game, and that was a great example of it. [Reporter: Seem like a guy who’s not really afraid of the big stage?] Well, he hasn’t been. You’re hoping when a guy gets a chance to play at this level that he continues to play the same way and do the same things that we liked to get him to this point, and he’s certainly been able to do that. He doesn’t over-pass the puck, he doesn’t try and push the puck to Kopi just because he’s playing with Kopi. He seems to make the right play at the right play, takes the shots when the shots are there and plays with a lot of confidence. He’s a little bit older kid that finished college, so I think he’s not coming in as a 19-year-old kid, he’s a little bit older. I think that’s really helped him with his composure, but he clearly has the ability to adapt and play at the NHL level with good players and not be affected by it.

On adjustments that led to the Kings going 19-for-22 in faceoffs in the second period:
Well, we were talking about it. If you look at Columbus, it was something that they were kind of lamenting about going into that game, is they weren’t very good in the faceoff circle. The one area’s that it has really hurt them is power play. They were one of the worst teams in the league at the faceoff circle on the power play, so I’m sure that they were making a point of it and digging in, and sometimes it’s just a compete issue. I think they clearly had an effect on it at first, but I think we have an ability to win faceoffs, and I think that showed after that. But if you start without the puck a lot, it becomes a lot tougher game there, and I thought our game got a lot better because we had the puck a lot more, and faceoffs was certainly a big part of that.

On aspects of Saturday’s game that can be applied to another skilled team in Toronto:
I think you can learn a lot. I think some of their rush play posed a problem for us, and sometimes if you give teams chances on the rush, it leads to what they want to do in the offensive zone. We actually looked at some of that stuff this morning – when we do it well and when we don’t, and what comes from it. Toronto is probably – not probably – I think they are the best rush team in the league. They’ve got a group of forwards and defensemen that can match you. They drive the net very well, they can make plays, and they’ve got guys that can score from distance, so certainly the rush attack is something we’re going to have to be very proficient at.

On whether he has to reinforce patience or temper expectations in the room, given the fast start:
There’s been really good energy in the room, which I think comes from winning. I think guys feel really good. I mean, it’s fun winning. That’s why we play. It sucks losing, to be honest with you. It’s what we talked to our guys about, and they’re nodding their heads. They see it the way we do. We’ve got to be honest every game and recognize what we did well and build on that, and we’ve got to be honest about what we didn’t do well, and if we’re honest with each other, I think we can get a lot better. I think we can all agree right now that there’s lots of things we need to improve on. We’re all happy with the fact that we’ve had success early in the year, but by no means do we think we’ve got this figured out. We’ve got an awful lot of work to do, and I think our guys know that.

-Lead photo via Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

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