Several quick notes on a Monday afternoon in El Segundo, beginning with the forward alignment and power play units:
— More to come, but I spoke with Adrian Kempe and Todd McLellan about Kempe’s play earlier today. This next bit is really only an academic matter that probably won’t resonate with fans as much as it does with reporters, but Kempe has always exuded maturity. He’s accountable, he’s firm, he also understands there are challenges that have to be addressed, particularly in the defensive zone. “Obviously, some parts have got to be better,” he said. “I think both for me and the team, we’ve been giving up chances in the D-zone and it’s something you’ve got to be sharper on. Focus a little more on ‘don’t try to think about offense too much.’ I know I’ve been good at it, so you’ve just got to be a little sharper in your mind going out for shifts and being aware of the other team’s players.”
I covered a lot of ground with player and coach – defensive zone coverage, power play, playing for his fourth NHL coach in four years, how coaches tailor their message amidst periods of losing and periods of winning – that will be shared by the end of the business day.
But while Kempe may be experiencing challenges following the puck rather than the player, and even if perhaps there’s an extra beat spent reading rather than reacting, he’s still supported by a strong understanding of himself and ability. Growth is necessary, and he already has an NHL resume that’s out there, but longer-term returns will be favored over any immediacies.
So, even if he sits for a game – Nikolai Prokhorkin took the first rotation alongside Ilya Kovalchuk and Kyle Clifford, though that’s not necessarily a firm indication of a lineup change – the importance of enhancing his longer-term performance applies.
“He does take accountability for his play,” McLellan said. “I don’t think he’s been pleased with the results of his individual play, and certainly collectively, nobody’s happy. So, he takes responsibility, he’s working hard to improve in certain areas. Coaches, we have to hold him accountable for his actions, but we also have to find ways to get him out of it and to get him into a situation where he’s got a positive impact on the game nightly – not a streaky-type thing.”
— Trevor Lewis has been placed on IR with a lower-body injury. He is not expected to return in the near future, with Todd McLellan sharing on Saturday that “it’s probably a little bit longer than what we originally anticipated, so he’ll need some time to recover.” Lewis, who suffered the injury within his first three shifts on Thursday in Ottawa, has one goal and two points in 16 games.
There was no corresponding move, so as of this transaction, the roster stands at 22.
— Carl Grundstrom, on what his line’s push felt like at ice level: “We forechecked hard, we skated a lot and we had good speed on our feet. We didn’t think too much. I think that was the key. Just went for it.”
— Derek Forbort (back) and Gabe Vilardi (back) skated together in full gear with Jarret Stoll this morning. People have an aversion to vertically-shot videos, so check out @lakinsider on Instagram if you’d like to see the trio getting work in and Vilardi snapping a puck on net.
— Defensive pairs suggested Kurtis MacDermid returning to play alongside Matt Roy, though we won’t get a better hint at lineup changes until Tuesday’s morning skate. More to come.