Todd McLellan press conference; post-game notes, quotes, highlights

Todd McLellan, on gettng asked similar hockey questions after another win:
I like it that way. There’s a lot of things you can ask. The start, we weren’t really ready too play. The night felt strange. It didn’t feel like a normal game. Not as many fans in the stands. Obviously, the players heard the news before about the basketball game, so it was a little bit unemotional. There wasn’t any intensity, at least on our behalf, I didn’t think until we got scored on, and then we realized it was time to play after that. But a different night for us.

McLellan, on whether he expects the league to keep playing:
Personally, I think that obviously we’re going to follow the guidelines of the health experts and the league. It’s a hard question for me to answer. We want to keep playing games, obviously. We’re on a roll and we’re doing some good things as a team and I think we need this time to continue to get better and improve so we can set ourselves up for the following season. But will that happen? I think health of our players, of our staff, of our organization, our city takes precedent over that, so we’ll see what comes out of it.

McLellan, on whether he’d have thought a potential cancellation of the season was possible last week:
No, I wouldn’t have thought that, but I’m like anybody else. I’m like anybody else – I’m watching TV and listening to health experts talk about how rapidly this spreads and how it can affect people. By the hour, you begin to realize this is real, we’re not fooling around with anything. It’s not the sniffles. As the days have gone on, we, I have come to understand the complexity of it. ‘No,’ to begin with, ‘yes,’ now.

McLellan, on what was going on in the room before the game while the President was speaking:
By the time that happened, guys were already getting into their gear and stuff. But there are enough people around that they were aware of what happened in the basketball game in Oklahoma, I believe it was, and then the NBA making a decision. The guys aren’t dumb, they’re aware of it. I could feel it in warm-up that the energy just wasn’t the same – between both teams. The start of the game was not what we wanted, but I think once we got playing and our minds went there, we were OK.

McLellan, on “culture” represented in Gabriel Vilardi’s play and winning, not improving lottery odds:
That is. Look, when you don’t make the playoffs, you want to pick as high as you possibly can. It gives you the opportunity to pick the player that you want. More of them are available the higher you pick. But I think for us the people that are in the trenches, what trumps that is the ability to evolve as an organization, as a team as we rebuild and put some structure in place, put accountability in place, create a competitive group that hold each other accountable, and it’s starting to fall into place right now. I think I mentioned to the group that was at the rink this morning, there’s not a person that walks into that locker room on a daily basis that doesn’t want to win every game. When it comes to the draft, we’ll be concerned on whatever day the lottery’s on. Before that, we want to win every game. Every game possible.

McLellan, on how he’d describe the team’s “new” systems:
Well, the new system is six and a half months old, so I don’t consider it ‘new.’ I consider it in place and I consider it being polished, refined. There are some things that we naturally morph into now that we didn’t have at the beginning of the year. The pieces are starting to go together. So we’re evolving, but we’re so much further along now than we were in games 1-10. We understaood what we needed to do, we weren’t used to doing it then, we didn’t know how all the pieces would work together, but now when we’re doing things well in the neutral zone, it leads to a good breakout, which leads to offense. The flow of the game is just beginning to happen now instead of them thinking about it.

McLellan, on how to handle the remaining schedule should the league go on an indefinite hiatus:
You know what? I don’t think that’s a fair question for me to throw out there. There are so many people involved in it, and I have one small opinion. I’m going to keep it to myself for now. Let’s just get through the next few days and let the league and the health people do what they need to do. The bodies, the minds, the health of everybody’s way more important than a game in my opinion.

McLellan, on Alex Turcotte arriving in town:
Yes, he won’t be joining our club, he’ll be joining the Reign, and they can use a boost right now with bodies and with skill and talent, and he certainly provides that. Who knows what’ll happen with that league, too. Everybody’s in limbo Will his pro career start right away? We certainly hope so. And, if it doesn’t, then we’ll get him going when we need to.

McLellan, on whether Ontario will be allowed to practice tomorrow:
I have no idea.

McLellan, on whether he’s adjusted his approach in this “uncharted” territory:
Not necessarily. We’ve tried to keep everything as normal as possible. Where we’ve had lots of family members around during practice, open up the room to the kids, let them run around, I really like that. I think that’s important for our environment. We’ve obviously shut that down for their own safety – not because we don’t trust them or anything like that. Just personally, washing my hands – I think I washed three layers of skin off already. It’s something I wouldn’t do as much as I’ve done now, and I see guys walking around the rink all the time doing it, which is a good sign. That’s what we’re instructed to do. Guys are following it. But nothing out of the norm beyond that.

McLellan, on Vilardi and the outlook to the future:
Well, we’re all excited right now. Like you said, you’re winning right now, ‘it’s hard to ask questions.’ But we’re excited about what we’re doing right now. What I can tell you, based on experience, is that when it does end, if it’s soon or if it’s the full season, next year’s next year. It starts all over again, and there’s a lot of work that individuals have to put in the summer. There’ll be a lot of competition for jobs in the fall. What we’re doing now will help us, but it doesn’t guarantee us success in the future. A lot of development that continues to have to go on with young players. They have to be ready to play, and we have to be ready for them. I think I used that at the beginning of the year, as well.

Anze Kopitar, on Gabriel Vilardi’s play:
Gabe’s good. I’m sure he’d be the first one to tell you that a year and a half off from playing hockey is a little bit in his game. But I like what I’m seeing, he’s got a great hockey mind, high hockey IQ. He’s making plays, he’s not afraid of making plays which is probably one of the biggest positives in his game. He’s playing his game and getting on the scoresheet.

Gabriel Vilardi, on younger faces in the dressing room:
It’s tougher for me to say because I am one of the new faces coming in, but I think we won seven games obviously were doing some things right and it feels pretty good.

D.J. Smith, on Ottawa’s fast start:
For sure, we scored obviously on our first shift it was a close game right to the end. Both teams had their chances, we had some chances, we had a goalie out and unfortunately took a couple penalties in the third period and then they found a way to score late.

Craig Anderson, on the Senators’ performance:
I thought overall we played a pretty solid game. I think we were doing a lot of right things, a lot of good things out there. The puck didn’t bounce our way there, but we had a couple of good opportunities there at the end to tie it up and we just weren’t able to capitalize.

Bobby Ryan, on a fast start and good team play:
It was, I think when you start like that it’s just a bonus. After last night I think we made a commitment to doing things correctly for the first ten minutes and really making things simple and then trying to build. I thought we did a good job. We controlled the pace for quite a bit of the game. Their team is going to create, they’re going to find ways to provide offense and we were there, just have to close it out.

Post-game Notes:

— The Kings won their seventh consecutive game tonight, continuing their longest this season, and longest since they won eight consecutive games Nov. 25-Dec. 9, 2017.
— Gabe Vilardi (1-1=2) registered his second multi-point game of the season and extended his point-streak to three games (2-2=4). He now has seven points (3-4=7) in his first 10 NHL games.
— Ben Hutton (0-1=1) extended his assist streak to three games (0-3=3).
— Martin Frk (1-0=1) scored the first game-winning goal of his career. It was his sixth goal of the season.
— Sean Walker (0-1=1) recorded his 19th assist of the season, second among team defensemen.
— Cal Petersen stopped 24-of-26 shots, winning his fifth game of the season. He is on a four-game winning streak, posting a .947 save percentage and 1.75 goals-against average during that span.

Post-game Highlights:

Thursday, March 12 is an off-day. The team is scheduled to practice at 11:00 a.m. at Toyota Sports Center on Friday, March 13.

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