McLellan on better predictability, Kempe/Lizotte, coronavirus

INSIDERS. I was going to share this in a somewhat larger, bullet points-type post, but after getting some Alex Turcotte work done and heading downtown, I’m about to hop on with Jesse Cohen on the pre-game show. So, a transcript it is! And it’s a very interesting transcript.

Todd McLellan, on facing a team outside of a playoff spot:
Well, it doesn’t change our approach to the game. We’ll prepare the same way. We expect the players to have the same intensity and commitment to team play. One only has to look at the results they’ve been getting – they’ve been pretty effective. I see similarities between the two teams in the fact that there’s a lot of individuals that are getting opportunity right now, and some are taking advantage of it. Leaders of both teams seem to be exceling right now and they’re a competitive group. They’re proud, we’re proud. It should be a good night for both of us.

McLellan, on Adrian Kempe and Blake Lizotte’s chemistry generating another shorthanded rush:
That’s part of I think our improvement in our penalty kill situation is that we’ve been able to create some continuity between pairs, especially up front and it gives them time to discuss things, to learn how to read and react off each other. I know your question has more to do with the shorthanded part of it, but they both skate well, they’re both tenacious, so you’re going to pick pucks off. Interestingly enough, this team that we play tonight has 15 shorthanded goals. Leads the league, so they’re very effective in that way, as well.

McLellan, on whether he’ll use this current stretch as a template or reference point moving forward:
We take segments of almost every game and create – I call it a ‘library’ or a ‘foundation’ – and we keep that. Things that we like and things that we don’t like, structurally and read-and-react-wise, and we have it on video and we just store it and we can pull and put together different presentations to the players. [Reporter: Like, literally on your computer?] Yeah, and it just sits on the cloud and then we can pull off a good forecheck or a poor forecheck. Sometimes we can find the exact same situation, the same players, and, ‘look, you worked into position here,’ or ‘you didn’t there,’ and it’s often more powerful when you can use positive clips. ‘You can do it.’ ‘Look, you have done it and it’s been successful,’ so the answer to your question is ‘yes.’

McLellan, on whether the team’s improvement is represented in doing “small things” well:
Well, I would say this: that we’re getting saves. And that’s not an indictment against our goaltending earlier in the year, it’s when we make mistakes right now, we seem to get the saves and we tend to forget about those when we’re scoring enough goals and we’re getting wins. So, we’re still making mistakes. We still have things to work on, and there are some nights where we’ve won games, and a little more erratic when we were losing games. It sounds strange, it really does. But the win often buffers errors, and saves do that, too. We’ve got to stay in reality and make sure that we’re not marching up and down the hallway really happy. We’ve got to keep the guys real.

McLellan, on whether the saves are coming because of better predictability and improved structure:
Yup. I think there’s a comparison between that. Our penalty kill’s improved, we’re more predictable, we’re not giving up as much for free. That plays a little bit better than it had been in the season. The long chances that we had given up really early in the year and then I think the Edmonton game again, I feel we were able to fix things. It’s the one thing that we’re doing quicker now than we were early in the year is repairing things, and the repair list is a little bit shorter than it was certainly at the beginning of the year, so that’s assign of progress.

McLellan, on generating more rush chances:
There are so many areas that we wanted to fix and improve, but that’s certainly been one of them. We used the word ‘direct’ a lot, meaning a little more direct towards the paint and the net has helped. I think of Dustin Brown’s pass off the pads to Kopi two or three games ago. Coaches talk about that all the time. It’s a simple play. We gave up one like that in New York. Panarin off the pads to whoever it was, and in the net. Those goals exist. As a player, you don’t always want the simple move, you want to make to make it look pretty or sweet or whatever terms they use. So simplifying is often a good thing.

McLellan, on what he’s noticed about the team’s mood:
Well, coming to the rink’s a lot more fun when you win games. I find the players are open to accountability a little bit more when you win, so when we go into meetings, they know that they played a good, hard game, they know they’ve got the reward. Now you can present and sometimes go after your team a little bit harder during successful runs. It’s a good time to do it. You can acknowledge that they did really good things. But, ‘hey, let’s fix this,’ and they’re maybe more open to that when they’re actually having success than when they’re beat up and losing.

McLellan, on how much time he’s spent thinking about the coronavirus:
A lot. I’d be lying if it wasn’t a lot. Personally, I think of it at home. I have older parents living in another country, I have two boys at colleges, separate colleges, and they have girlfriends that have families. You know, it’s just exactly the same way you guys would think about it, and then there’s our family here that we’re obviously concerned about. The community we live in, obviously LA’s a big city and we do care about the people here, too. We know that we’re in the mix as far as events that people go to attend, so we’ve thought about it a lot, we’ve discussed it a lot, but we’ve maintained our focus hockey-wise as well.

McLellan, on what the effect would be of playing hockey in an empty building:
Well, if it gets to that point and we’re told that we need to do that, the experts have made decisions and we abide by it and we do it. In life you don’t always get to choose your path. You deal with it as it comes and we’ll play the game. We’ll learn something. We’ve never played a game in an empty building. I said it at the beginning of the year, using the five senses, I think in a game in a quieter environment, you’ll really pick that up. Verbally, you’ll hear teams and coaches and refs talking a little bit more. Do we want to do that? No. We’d like to play in front of fans, but we’re going to follow whatever guidelines the experts and the league officials set out for us.

McLellan, on whether he’s paying attention to the team’s lottery position:
It will be on April – [Reporter: Sixth, I think, or eighth.] Whatever, the eighth, whenever they have it, but until then, not a chance. When we walk in the door, there’s not a – I think I used this quote the other day – there’s not a human being in this building, at least downstairs here that is thinking about dropping a spot to get a better lottery pick. There are balls, anyhow. They come out however they want. Let’s win games and fix the culture. That’s what we’re here to do.

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