Here’s the second installment of Kings coach Darryl Sutter’s post-season meeting with reporters, two days after the team was eliminated from the Western Conference finals by the Chicago Blackhawks:
Question: It seems this was a tougher coaching job for you this year because you didn’t have the consistency of the lineup, you started out without Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene …
Answer: “I think if we go down the league, every coach will say that through a 48-game schedule. It’s something I’ve done before, so you have some familiarity with it. Whether it helps or not, I don’t know. But at least you’re familiar with it. Was it tougher? Sure, it was tougher, because … Our players were awesome. There was no hangover. There was only positives taken from it. Obviously, the only negative from a short summer last year was the guys didn’t start the year. Greene, Mitchell, (Anze) Kopitar and, quite honestly, Jonathan (Quick) until probably January or February.”
So, what’s next for Kings right wing Tyler Toffoli? Kings coach Darryl Sutter would like the 21-year-old to gain strength and stamina before training camp begins in September. Sutter might also consider switching Toffoli from the right wing to the left in order to make that side of the ice a little stronger than it’s been the last two seasons. Dustin Brown is the Kings’ top left wing, but the production on that side drops off considerably. Toffoli could fill the void, if the Kings decide to go in that direction.
Tyler Toffoli knows all about the increased speed and sense of urgency that comes with climbing the ladder as a professional hockey player. After all, he’s climbed it at a great speed and with a keen sense of urgency. The Kings’ right wing scored 100 points (52 goals, 48 assists) in 65 games with the junior-level Ottawa 67s in 2011-12. Then he scored 51 points (28 goals, 23 assists) in 58 games with the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs of the American Hockey League in 2012-13 and was named the Rookie of the Year. He also scored five points (two goals, three assists) in 10 games with the Kings.
Here’s more from right wing Justin Williams’ session with reporters Monday. He was asked about the play of 21-year-old rookie Tyler Toffoli: “I think Tyler’s going to be a phenomenal NHL player for a long time. He’s had some big games for us when he’s been called upon to play. He’s always been ready. That’s what you need to do as a young player. When you’re called upon, show up. He’s done that and gave us a little bit of life yesterday. I don’t know what the line would be, but we’re certainly going to need his play.”
Looking back before looking ahead to the Western Conference finals …
Dustin Brown scored the winning goal and Jonathan Quick made 21 saves in a game that proved the Kings could skate with the speedy Blackhawks after all. Anze Kopitar, Jarret Stoll, Dwight King and rookie Tyler Toffoli also scored for the Kings, who improved their record to 18-12-2. Kopitar’s goal was noteworthy because it was his last of the regular season. He did not score in the final 16 regular-season games and has only two goals in 13 playoff games, a fact that has raised eyebrows among plenty of press box observers.
The Kings were aided by a delay of game penalty in the closing minutes of Game 2. They were hurt by one to defenseman Jake Muzzin in the opening minutes of Game 3. Joe Pavelski won a faceoff cleanly from Anze Kopitar and Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle scored on a perimeter shot to give San Jose a 1-0 lead. Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart’s errant clearing attempt proved costly later in the period, with Kings rookie Tyler Toffoli picking it off and scoring on a beautiful backhander.
The Kings recalled forward Tyler Toffoli from Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League on Wednesday. Toffoli, a rookie who celebrated his 21st birthday by joining the Kings for their game against the Red Wings in Detroit, recorded five points (two goals and three assists) in eight games earlier this season. The Kings sent him back to Manchester earlier this month. He has 51 points (28 goals, 23 assists) in 58 games with the Monarchs. The Kings made the move in anticipation of a suspension to team captain Dustin Brown for elbowing Jason Pominville of Minnesota in the second period of a 2-1 loss Tuesday to the Wild. Or perhaps it was simply a coincidence.
The regular season down to four games and with little chance he would play, the Kings sent rookie forward Tyler Toffoli back to Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League on Friday. Toffoli, who turns 21 on Wednesday, played in only eight games for the Kings and scored two goals and five points. He averaged only 11 minutes, 55 seconds per game. In 55 games in his rookie season with Manchester, he scored 48 points (28 goals, 20 assists). The Kings recalled him March 10.
Kings rookie right wing Tyler Toffoli figures to be a healthy scratch down the stretch and into the playoffs. It’s also possible but perhaps unlikely he’ll be returned to Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League. The Kings plan to work with Toffoli to expand his versatility. He’s a right wing playing on a team that’s overloaded with standouts at that position. The Kings are strong at center, too, which means he would be wise to learn to play the left wing, according to coach Darryl Sutter.
The Kings scratched 20-year-old rookie Tyler Toffoli and Jordan Nolan returned to the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Dallas Stars at Staples Center. Nolan generated a quality scoring chance, cutting through the Stars’ defense and unleashing a shot from the slot that Kari Lehtonen had to be sharp to handle. Kyle Clifford had another good scoring opportunity for the Kings, breaking ahead of the pack on a shorthanded bid in the closing seconds of the opening period. The Kings outshot the Stars 12-5.