By Jarret Stoll
We just got back from a strong three-game road trip and are feeling good we picked up five points out of a possible six. I think what made the difference in our game was we had a chance to come together as a team during the trip. We worked hard, went out to movies and ate dinner together.
These types of things tend to happen less at home because guys spend time with their families and kids. There’s also so many different things going on in L.A. that it can be hard to get everybody together in the same place.
It was a tough trip, especially playing Minnesota and Colorado on back-to-back nights, but we kept our game simple and all the little things we need to do to win seemed to come naturally.
Right now, we’re fighting for a playoff spot and we need more of what we did on this road trip to earn one. We’ve got to keep things simple, go hard, get pucks on net and score goals. It’s a matter of seeing the easy play that’s there and everybody jumping on it together.
One of our big stories this year is 19-year-old Drew Doughty. His composure for his age is really what stands out. He’s so confident with the puck, can make plays in our zone and beat one or two guys under pressure – you don’t see that at his age too often.
He’s a fun guy to be around; he’s definitely confident with his game and he can skate. For young guys who come in, especially defensemen, it’s tough for them on the defensive side of the game to make those reads and battle with bigger, stronger guys down-low.
I think he uses his head more than some guys do and that’s important. He’s definitely been a big key for our team and he looks like he’s already been around the league for a while.
Doughty isn’t the only guy who has been taking care of business in our end this season. I like that we have a huge emphasis on defense under coach Terry Murray, who, like me, is in his first year with the Kings.
If we make the playoffs, a strong defensive game will be important for us winning games there. You have to learn to win those 2-1, 1-0 games that are battles right from the drop of the puck.
Positioning is key when it comes to being a good defensive team. A foot or two here and there can make all the difference. I think for a young team like us, we need to learn that side of the game first.
We know we have skill on this team that can take over and score goals, but I think we have to be consistently better at that offensive side of the game. Defensively, I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job. From our goaltenders on out we have been working together as a unit.
Our team has had some breakdowns, letting third-period leads slip against good clubs, but we feel we could be in a little bit better position than we are. We just have to have a good finish and maintain a high level of play. That’s the toughest thing to be in this league – consistent as a group and as individuals.
It’s a tough grind with the schedule and the travel can get to you, but it’s one of those things where we have to be professionals, take care of ourselves and play hard to try to win every game.
We play 24 of our final 36 games on the road. It’s very important in a situation like this to take care of your body. When we have time to rest, we have to rest, and when we have time for practice, we have to work on things and get better. We have to get on a little streak here and I think we’re capable of doing that.
Personally, the move to L.A. has been good for me. It’s been different. I was talking to friends and family back home and it’s been a really cold, long winter, but here it’s fresh and new. I like it.
Jarret Stoll was drafted in the second round, 46th overall by the Flames in 2000, but re-entered the draft in 2002 where the Oilers picked him 36th overall. He played five seasons in Edmonton, scoring 165 points, before being dealt to the Kings in the summer of 2008. Read his other entries HERE.
For more information on Jarret Stoll and the Kings, go to lakings.com.