Several additional notes and updates from Willie Desjardins, who put the Kings through a lengthy practice at Toyota Sports Center in advance of a Thursday off-day and a Friday skate prior to the team flight to San Jose:
On getting in good practices this week:
Yeah, and today was good, too. This is the first time that we’ve had three days. It’s the first time you can really just practice and not worry how the team feels the next day. Like, you can just practice. So, today was the first time that we’ve really had one of those – that we could just practice.
On using Tuesday’s game to “convince” the players that they can beat good teams:
I think they know that, for one, and there are lots of things that go into that. We’ve had other games – you go to the Phoenix game where we lost. Maybe different teams, but we out-chanced them pretty good. Like, last night the chances were pretty close. So, some nights you get chances, you just don’t score – it doesn’t reflect on the scoreboard. Last game we were fortunate it reflected in the scoreboard, which was good. Overall, our group, we’ve played some pretty good hockey. If you look at some of the games we haven’t, we just need to find different ways to get a goal here or there or to get us going. The good thing, last game we got one called back on us. A tough one, and the guys, they didn’t let it bother them. They kept going.
On what he needs to see from Nikita Scherbak:
It’s a tough one. He’s a good young player. He’s got lots of talent. I think the hardest thing for me, we were a better line when I rotated somebody else in there, and when we’re a better line when we do that, it’s hard for me not to do that because my job is to make sure we have as good a line as we can go with. I like him, I hope that he gets his game so he’s a factor every shift, as well. Like, I’d love to see that because he’s a good young player, and I think he cares, so hopefully it’ll come around and when he gets his chance, he’ll play that way.
On what a “clean” style of hockey means to him:
I guess clean would mean we broke out well and we didn’t give out out-numbered rushes. When you’re going to play Winnipeg, a high-end team, you just have to make sure you don’t give them scoring chances. You can frustrate teams. If they’re getting lots of chances, even if they’re not scoring, they’re excited. If you’re always above them and they’re always coming into traffic, it frustrates teams a little bit like that. I thought we did a good job with our structure defensively. I thought we were better, and usually when we play well we break out clean.
On whether keeping continuity with the Anze Kopitar line is important:
It was interesting. Early I was thinking about splitting that line up. I thought that Kopi, Kopi liked the line. He had success with it in the past, so I decided, ‘OK, we’ll let it go a little longer,’ and it’s played well for us. Like, game-in and game-out, it’s been our best line. When you have that, then you probably will leave it together.
On whether he’s “surprised” that Brendan Leipsic has played for so many teams early in his career:
He’s got lots of different parts of his game. He’s good on the power play. He’s a guy that can make plays on power plays. He’s found kind of his spot there a little bit. I thought last night was one of his better games. Again, he needs to be more consistent, though. It’s another guy that he got his chance because we had injuries, but then those injuries are going to come back, so he has to be good while he has a chance or guys go back in the lineup. He’s played well, and he’s a guy that we certainly have to keep looking at.
On Daniel Brickley’s game against Winnipeg:
Pretty good. Yeah, it was pretty good. To come in, he’s had a couple pretty good tests coming into Pittsburgh and here, they’re two pretty high-end teams. He played well.
On any prior motivation to break up the top line:
I don’t know, I think there are always different things you’re looking at coming in. I think the year hadn’t been going as good as they wanted, so sometimes you look at different things. There wasn’t any real hard reason, it’s just like you’re looking for something to get guys excited about it again. But I thought that line did a very good job. They want to play together, and I like how they’re playing. Brownie was hurt early, he’s come back and he’s put up good numbers since he’s come back, and Kopi’s an elite player. Like, he is just a good hockey player, so it’s a pretty good combination.
On whether he’s gone Christmas shopping:
You always get a little bit done. [Reporter: I hope you don’t have to do everything online? Are you able to go out?] Yeah, I went to the store down at Staples Center and got everybody in the family some Kings stuff, so it was good to get that done. [Reporter: Get your employee discount?] Yeah, they were good, too, with that! I waited.
Click here for injury updates and other notes from Wednesday’s practice in El Segundo.
–Lead photo via Bill Wippert/NHLI