With 8 teams remaining in the playoffs - and with a long break between round 1 and round 2 - I've reached out to the remaining 8 teams for some dialogue revolving around: How they built their current team Team building philosophy Current playoff matchups Past, current, and future roster construction Thanks to the management teams who have already reached back out. I'm hoping to power through these as quick as I can, but real life work has cranked up a few notches. --------------------------------------- Participants: Spray_and_Pray_ (Interviewer) IllyFilly (LA Kings Owner, Interviewee) Interviewer: LA missed the playoffs last year, so a 2nd place finish in the division is a pretty solid turnaround. Aside from management returning, only 2 players from last season are on your playoff roster this season (A_Raging_Sloth and GhostMK). Obviously changing the talent has helped bring in some wins. What did you feel were the most important pieces to build your foundation this year? IllyFilly: We felt with the amount of draft picks, resigned and returning players, we would have the open cap to push for a top player. Knowing the risk and cost of spending 1/3 of our cap on one player, we needed to make sure we picked the right one and I think we accomplished that. Our bidding and drafting strategy worked to plan, however, through the first two weeks of the season, we recognized quickly that moves needed to be made. Interviewer: You say you recognized a need to make moves early in the season. What did you see that made you realize you had to pivot, and what did you do to adjust your roster? IllyFilly: Well, for one, we weren't winning games. I made some incorrect judgments on how effective certain players would be in their roles. Through two weeks, it was apparent to me we needed to improve our defensive core and I knew there was not going to be a quick fix. When the opportunity came up to trade for KarmaSutra and zdball, we had to jump at it as I felt it was a massive improvement to our D core, with similar offensive production for what we were giving up. This trade materialized over the next week or two and we've been rolling ever since. Interviewer: Contrary to season end last year, your team is in a pretty good place with the amount of returning players on the roster. If you and Kev were to both return, you’d have 7 returning roster players with 2 re-sign options available as well. It seems like you have quite the leg up on the rest of the field to make another cup run next year. So, multi-part question: Were the trades you made this year designed with a focus on the future, or with an eye on this years cup run? Was it a goal to roster players with multi-year contracts? Do you see that as a viable team building methodology? IllyFilly: From my perspective, we were always looking to build the team for the present and future simultaneously. Having the right players is key and we were fortunate enough to bid and trade for the right players with valuable contracts. I am always interested in multi year contracts because I don't plan on a 1 season term owner. That being said, our focus is and always was to win a cup. If anything, our trading gave us the opportunity to win now and dominate the following seasons. Interviewer: You set yourself up with 4 picks in the first 3 rounds to start the season – 2 in the first round. How important were those draft picks to this seasons success, either for the players you acquired with the pick or for their trade value? IllyFilly: Our draft picks were tremendously important to this seasons success. The original plan was to draft the best defensemen on the board with our two high picks, hoping they would play big minutes for us. Ultimately, we ended up moving both players in trades we simply could not pass up on which propelled us into the position we are in now. Interviewer: Alright, playoffs. Anaheim threw out quite the upset by upending Vegas. Be honest: you’re happier seeing the 97 point Ducks over the 118 point Knights, right? IllyFilly: Actually, quite the opposite. In my opinion, I thought we matched up extremely well against the Knights and would have held a definitive roster advantage. The Ducks are a dangerous squad and built eerily similar to ourselves; They have a nice line of big names, coupled with a chemistry line and a solid defensive core. I'm not quite surehow I want to play the line matching game in this series vs. knowing exactly how I would have wanted to match lines vs. the Knights. I expect this series to be great as there are both rivalries and friendships on both sides in this series. Interviewer: Your powerplay has been a driving force to your success all season – 2nd in the league behind Dallas. The Ducks, however, have the third best PK in the league this year. Is it fair to say that the PP could be one of the key determining factor against the Ducks? IllyFilly: I guess you could say special teams overall will play a big role. Overusing the R1 button is going to get a lot of players in trouble moving forward, and unfortunately for us....we REALLY like to hit the R1 button. Interviewer: Both teams are identical in possession stats - both falling somewhere in the low teens for possession numbers – but the Kings are top 3 in shot differential. Generally, possession numbers are a good indicator of shot differential, but that doesn’t hold true with the Kings. Your average possession numbers/excellent shot differential infers that your team does a solid job blocking the shooting lanes and forcing teams to hold the puck instead of shooting it. If the Ducks are going to advance to the next round, is it fair to say they would need to put more shots on net then you’ve typically given up this season? IllyFilly: I believe the quality of those shots is more important than quantity. The Ducks can take 5 or 30, makes no difference, we have Faytal_Flow, so we win. Interviewer: Alright, let me put you on the spot, then. All the players are important to your team, you love all of them, blah blah blah...who's the Kings MVP up to this point in the season: Faytal, JClaus, Pass2Tyler, or "other"? IllyFilly: Faytal_Flow is our MVP and I don't believe there is a close 2nd. Carried us in some pretty big games, played 6/week without fail and made a nice name for himself throughout the season, all the while trolling the shoutbox which was a requirement of him from before he was drafted . JClaus put up the points and won games, same goes for Tyler, but without the goaltending we've had this season, I don't think we are in the position we are now. Interviewer: Without giving up too much detail, is there a driving philosophy behind your teams success? Your team ranks 3rd in hits, which means it’s a focus for your team. Would you say that backcheck/forecheck is the key differentiator to where you are now? IllyFilly: I believe the forecheck is the single most important attribute for us. Everyone on any team ever backchecks, so I wouldn't put much stock in that. Interviewer: Staying out of the penalty box doesn’t appear to be much of a concern for you or your opponent (both middle of the league in penalty minutes). Any thoughts on penalties playing a part in this series, especially with your PP% near the top of the league? IllyFilly: As I mentioned earlier, with the tweaks EA made to penalties, we couldcertainly see special teams playing a big role in this series. Interviewer: One week from now. The Kings have beaten Anaheim. What was the one key to your series victory? IllyFilly: Faytal_Flow Interviewer: Same question, only flip it. One week from now, Anaheim has beaten the Kings. What one thing can you point to as the biggest reason you lost? IllyFilly: We aren't losing.