The next wave!
Today’s set of exit interviews includes four more members of the next core and wave of individuals on this team, building off of yesterday’s group. Today’s selection includes one forward and three defensemen, starting with Trevor Moore, who inked a five-year contract extension back in December that kicks in this fall. Also included is the recently extended Mikey Anderson, who signed an eight-year extension in February. Defensemen Matt Roy and Sean Durzi, each under contract through the end of next season, round out another strong group of interviews.
Trevor Moore & Matt Roy
For The First Time
It was a season of firsts for Trevor Moore.
He began the season penciled into a top-six role for the first time in his NHL career. He suffered a long-term injury for the first time as a professional, one which was challenging to come back from at full force. He signed a long-term contract extension which made him a highly-paid player for the first time. He also became a father for the first time, as his sone was born between Games 5 and 6.
Starting with the injuries and his place in the lineup, Moore’s injury made it challenging for he and his line to replicate last season’s performance. The stage was also set a bit differently than it was a season ago, with different matchups, different roles and more responsibility. At times, the responses to both were great. In others, it wasn’t where he and his line wanted it to be. All around though, it was different and Moore accepted that.
“My injury this year, for me, was so frustrating, it just really took me out of the rhythm of things,” he said. “I think [as a line], we maybe played a little different role this year, I think we were starting a lot more in the d-zone, starting with playing against the other team’s top lines, which we love to do and it’s a huge opportunity and we’re grateful for that, but it was maybe a little different feel. I thought we had really good moments in the playoffs there, it kind of felt like last year.”
As shared in Sunday’s immediate takeaways, perhaps a blessing in disguise from the elimination for Moore was a quicker than expected path to being a full-time father. Moore was able to come home after Game 6 and spend time with his newborn son and his wife, who had worn much of the burden in the couple of days following his birth. It’s the human side of the game and that’s the one that we often forget about.
“I think I was planning on playing longer and that’s a burden on my wife, so to be able to go home last night and take some of that off of her and spend some time with the little guy has been awesome.”
As he progresses forward, Moore will have a new, five-year contract extension kicking in come training camp and with that comes added expectations. Despite injuries and new assignments, Moore still finished the season at a 40-point pace over 82 games, on top of the other things he brings. Still, he was closer to a 50-point player in 2021-22 and the Kings will be hopeful for that type of season from their native son moving forward. Knowing Moore’s makeup, they should feel confident they’ll get it.
As others have said, the Kings have some regrets when it comes to the way that Game 4 played out, but while that game felt deflating on the outside, it was far from it on the inside.
Despite seeing a three-goal lead evaporate, Moore didn’t feel that it really impacted the group much, if at all, especially from a confidence standpoint.
“It’s definitely a game we obviously should have had and we wish we had it back, but it didn’t feel like that in the room, it didn’t feel like we were deflated or anything like that. It just felt like we let it slip away, but we were still confident that we could win the next games and keep pushing. So, it’s tough to learn from, it’s a tough lesson but we’ll pull through it.”
Part of that probably comes down to the makeup of this team, specifically.
Moore, and others, spoke about the closeness this group has. Perhaps some of that togetherness manifests itself in their resiliency. Kevin Fiala said he had been a part of other teams that were down 3-2 in a series and felt like they were out of it. As Moore said about, and Fiala said HERE, there were no thoughts of that nature coming from the Kings, who came out in Game 6 as believers, though it ultimately fell short.
“I think we’ve definitely gotten closer over the years, I thought this team, this year was so close and we added those guys like Kevin, Gavy, Korpi, all those guys that fit in so well with our team. It really brought us together. Good, competitive guys who are fun to be around. I want to be here for as long as they’ll have me here. I love being here and I just want to pull my weight and help the team.”
Good qualities, though qualities that Moore and everyone involved would like to see translate into success come the postseason. With changes certain to come, on some scale, those types of things will need to remain in the team, while improvements come in addition to.
Roy was voted as the team’s Unsung Hero by his teammates during the season-ending awards announced after the end of the regular season.
Roy’s style of play is typically one that does fly under the radar on a larger scale. He’s a defense-first defenseman who prides himself on taking care of his own end first. He also was not a high-round draft pick, who didn’t come into the system with a touted profile, and thus flies under the radar at times naturally. Recognition, even for those who don’t crave it, is still a good feeling. Roy is content going about his business though, playing his game and doing his thing.
“It is nice to get recognition, but at the same time, I’m the kind of guy I like going about my business and keeping the noise away,” he said. “For me personally, I do like being labeled as underrated and just being able to go about my business on my own and doing my thing.”
As far as the on the radar side, Roy expanded his offensive game this season. Between the regular season and playoffs, Roy scored 10 goals to tie himself for the team lead amongst Kings defensemen. None of those goals came on the power play, as Roy was rarely used in those situations, and his nine non-power play goals in regular-season play placed him among the top 20 blueliners around the NHL.
Roy brings with him a heavy shot from the point, something he showcased during his time in the AHL. Now he’s got a strong season under his belt at this level as well and it’s something he’s hopeful to carry forward into next year and beyond.
“It’s something I try to do every year, this year I think I made more of an effort in jumping into the rush and kind of picking my spots a little bit better offensively. That’s my goal for next year and the years past that.”
His Own Evaluation
Roy is one of 13 Kings to play all 13 games between this year’s playoffs and last year’s playoffs. He was one of just three players to do it on the blueline, alongside the two defensemen who follow below.
Roy’s role was in more of a spotlight a season ago, as he paired with Mikey Anderson on a pairing tasked with shutting down the league’s best forwards. This season, both players had the same assignment, though it came on separate pairs to share the load. Roy’s numbers came out solid at even strength, posting a +1 rating across the 13 games. Despite the defeat, he believes the series was closer this year than it was last year.
“I think we had more compete this year and we gave ourselves a better chance, even though last year we went to seven games. I think I like the way we played better this year than we did last year.”
While even strength play was there, the penalty kill was an area that lacked.
That’s certainly not just a Matt Roy problem, but an organizational problem, an area that fell short of what was needed. The series is still pretty fresh, so Roy didn’t exactly have all the answers. He simply knew that in the playoffs, results outweigh process and the results weren’t what they needed to be.
“Well, they obviously have a great power play over there. I don’t know, I think there’s a few issues and for me, maybe we were a bit too passive in this series. Every power play is different, we just got stuck with the league’s best power play this series. Hopefully next year we can tackle it a little bit better.”
Mikey Anderson & Sean Durzi
Sharing two quotes from Anderson that I believe should simply be included here in full.
Anderson is a leader and a speaker wise beyond his years. He’s had leadership traits since he entered the league and first, offered an honest and open evaluation of his play in the series against Edmonton, as well as the play of others in his age range in that series. No excuses offered and frankly an evaluation that’s probably stiffer than it merited. That’s what a leader does, though.
“I mean, looking at it now, I don’t feel great [with my play]. Their top guys scored 10 points or whatever it was in the six games, so initially, I feel like you know playing against those guys, you can do more to slow them down and have them get less points but obviously it’s still a learning curve for a lot of the young guys. That’s what, the second time we’ve played postseason games, so we’re all still figuring it out. Not that that’s any excuse for anything, but we learned and now going forward, we know exactly what to expect once this time of year comes around. We’ve got to learn from guys that have been won cups before. I think a few of the games we started slow and I think that’s something you obviously you can’t do, digging and trying to play from behind is never good recipe, especially in the postseason.”
Anderson also spoke on the areas he felt the Kings could have defended better in their series versus the Oilers. Anderson’s game is built around his defensive play, his ability to shutdown opposing players, while still providing puck-moving ability and mobility on the backend. It’s that collection of traits that allows him to be successful. Starting with the penalty kill and moving into 5-on-5 play, Anderson believes the Kings could have been better.
“The easy one right off the bat is our penalty kill struggle,” he said. “Obviously, they have a lot of great players, their power play was very, very effective, but on the same side of it so was ours. I don’t know what that percentage ended up at but I thought our power play did a good job of keeping pace with theirs. Then again, it comes down to 5-on-5, one mistake ends up in the net, one doesn’t, however the games may go. It’s trying to keep the chances as low as you can get, no matter who you’re playing, but I think when you overall look at it, we can prevent a couple of power-play goals, obviously, kill some of their momentum, gives us a little more and I think that can turn a game either way. I think if we killed a few of them, it goes our way a little bit more for momentum.”
Look, we’ve spoke at length about Sean Durzi’s role here this season.
Started the season on the right, quickly was switched to the left, moved over to the right after Vladislav Gavrikov was acquired and wound up back on the left at times down the stretch, as personnel on the bottom pairing shuffled around from game-to-game. Durzi wasn’t initially the player who was slotted to play on the left side, but that’s where he wound up just a couple of games into the season. While he had his ups and downs in learning the position, ultimately he got better and improved as he went, feeling more and more comfortable in that spot as the season progressed.
He came out the other side better for it, as he has that skillset moving forward.
“That was new for me,” he said. “I mean, a big thing about being a player who can play for a long time in this league, from what I’ve been told and what I’ve learned, is being coachable and being adaptable to any situation. You’ve got to be able to play on a team, play in any situation, play under any coach, play under any circumstance no matter what it is. So, I think having that ability to switch the left side now and be comfortable there is only going to add to my toolbox.”
Durzi spoke at length about the challenge of taking on the left side, as well as the importance in doing so, both for himself and for the team.
He was offered an out at various times, saying that teammates supported him by acknowledging his position change, but he wouldn’t accept that as an excuse for a mistake. It is, after all, the NHL and though development is never done, it’s not a development league. He took everything in stride and acknowledged his shortcomings and his successes. He’s a better player for it.
“The challenge came early in the year and it’s something that kind of came quick upon me but I knew it was a good opportunity for myself, not only to contribute more, but to help the team. I couldn’t be more grateful for that opportunity and for that ability to be coachable and be adaptable to that situation, now having the ability to be on the left side. I struggled at times, it wasn’t the easiest situation, but I think it’s something you can kind of be proud of, is taking the challenge head-on and not kind of shying away from it or coming up with excuses. A lot of the times when I was making mistakes, guys would say ‘you’re playing the left, it’s not easy’ and I didn’t want to give into that excuse, so I was like it didn’t matter. I was hard on myself in situations but it’s something I was able to learn and I was able to become playable in that situation.”
Three more articles to go, Insiders! We’ve got six players remaining and we’ll knock that out over the coming days. More to follow, as we proceed towards the end of these interviews and hit the offseason proper.