Home » NHL | Kopitar asked Rittich how the Excellents were doing. And Kings? A team built for success, says the Czech goalkeeper

NHL | Kopitar asked Rittich how the Excellents were doing. And Kings? A team built for success, says the Czech goalkeeper

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NHL |  Kopitar asked Rittich how the Excellents were doing.  And Kings?  A team built for success, says the Czech goalkeeper

But when they told you after the training camp that you had to go to the farm, you probably weren’t very happy. The last time you caught in the AHL was some six years ago.

It wasn’t the most pleasant news I’ve ever received in my life, but since the summer I was set that it could happen. When I had to go there, I took it positively. I caught a lot, and in the middle of the season I already have as many games as last year and the year before last. It certainly didn’t hurt.

On the farm, you usually have to arm yourself with patience. What is it like for AHL goaltenders now?

The beginning was difficult, I won’t hide that. In six years you get used to something different, but I readjusted a bit and adapted quickly.

In your first three starts this season, the Kings had five points and you averaged 1.62 goals per game. That’s a nice start, isn’t it?

There could have been six points… But the guys in front of me played great. I went into those matches with confidence and a positive attitude. I caught some games on the farm, I had a rhythm and I felt good. It just annoys me that the defeats are sticking to us lately (6 in a row), we need to win now, then it will break again.

But the Kings still have the second-best defense of all 32 teams (2.43 goals-per-game average), even if your backs aren’t that well-known aside from Drew Doughty. How do you catch them?

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Great! Our running backs are great, but we try to defend in games as a five-man group, we do a good job in our defensive zone and we try to help each other.

Did any of the backs you didn’t know that much surprise you with their performances?

Good question, although you caught me off guard a bit now. Hmm… Probably Jordan Spence the most with his mindset on the ice. This is a (22-year-old) boy who can support the attack excellently and defends well on top.

What about Doughty, have you had your front teeth done yet?

No (laughs), he probably won’t have you anymore… But Drew is great, We all know him from those matches when he had a microphone on his jersey and you could hear how he salted the other teams, that’s completely normal for him. He won’t shut up when I say it out loud (smiles).

In addition to Doughty, the team from the 2012 and 2014 champions also includes captain Anže Kopitar. He was coached by František Výborný years ago in the Slovenian national team, his son David was his role model. Did you talk about them together?

Of course! Mr. Excellent is an icon of Czech hockey. Both he and David helped me a lot in Mladá Boleslav. I appreciate them very much. I already told David, but I would also like to thank him again this way. Angel has only good memories of them too. He asked what Franta and Karp, which is the nickname of Honza Vidner’s video coach, was doing. He was immediately interested.

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Kopitar may be 36 years old, but he still has it in his hands, doesn’t he?

He is the heart of our team. Nothing more is probably worth saying. He may be old, but he continues to prove that he is a top NHL player.

After years, you have now renewed the goaltending tandem with Cam Talbot, with whom you also worked in Calgary. How did you both take it?

We already had a great relationship with the Flames. Now we even signed with the Kings on the same day, so we laughed about it. Cam is a great person, a great goaltender. You already know what to expect from him, you are not going into the unknown.

But you never had a problem with the second goalkeeper in the team, did you?

Not yet, maybe it will come (laughs). I’m simply convinced that when goalkeepers argue, it can never work.

If you look at the Kings players, just by names like Doughty, Kopitar, Fiala or Kempe, you can tell that you will have big ambitions this year. It is so?

I hope so, even though we are not in a very good situation right now. But I believe that will change quickly. Our lineup is built for success!

After your freezing stints in Calgary and Winnipeg, you are finally enjoying the warmth in California too.

It’s great to have that option. Every day you go for a walk and come up with something. A big change from being cooped up at home and it’s 30 degrees outside.

Your son will be two soon, do you take him to matches?

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He was like that at all the homes where I fished. A few times on the farm too. He sees that I play hockey and he likes it. So now I go from hockey to hockey. But I don’t want to force him to choose whatever sport he wants. Although at this moment it seems that even after my career I won’t take a break from hockey (laughs).

At the rinks in Canada, you experienced how crazy the locals are about hockey. How does Los Angeles compare?

That interest in hockey is less across America, it’s not just the difference between Canada and Los Angeles. Although we may not even fit into the four most popular sports here.

After all, you share the Crypto.com Arena with the Lakers and Clippers basketball players. Have you ever seen a LeBron James game?

Not yet, I haven’t even met him. We are only there for the game, we also have the morning ice skating in the training schedule. There was no opportunity yet, I was also dealing with private matters. But seeing basketball with LeBron live would be a great experience for everyone.

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