Matt Luff is working to make his name permanent on the Kings roster
Head coach Todd McLellan has high hopes for Luff
December 19, 2019
From being called up to the Los Angeles Kings, to being down with the Ontario Reign, and now back up with the Kings, 22-year old right-winger Matt Luff is working to make his name permanent on the Kings roster.
Luff has a natural gift, a natural instinct about where to be on the ice and how to play the game. He knows how to be strong along the boards and get himself into scoring positions.
Head coach Todd McLellan has high hopes for Luff, and Luff knows what he'll have to do to make it in the big show.
McLellan wants Luff to not only supply some goals, but to also have a solid all-around game.
"You feel like you have to be a scorer to play in the NHL," McLellan said. "There's 32 teams, there's only 32 leading scorers on each team, so that kind of limits your opportunity to be the top guy. Yes, you have to contribute, but the puck's on your tape only a really small amount of time during the game. What are you doing the rest of the night?"
Usually, a forward is on the ice during a game approximately between 12 and 20 minutes and the puck's on their stick for 45 seconds of that time. Most players are drafted as scorers if they have good numbers in the minors. But when they get to the NHL level, they have to figure out their niche, and it's not always just about scoring. Luff is offensive-minded but is unfolding as an all-around good player as he gets more experience in the NHL. And he used his time wisely when down with the Reign.
"You've got to know who you are and what you do well, and bring that first, and where that takes you within a game is exactly what you need as an individual, and if it happens to lead to a goal, then great," McLellan said. "It might lead to seven or eight defensive plays, and that helps us win, too."
McLellan wants Luff to play a good, solid, hard game, and to feel good about himself.
Luff getting the recent recall is giving him an opportunity to show the Kings that he can play at the NHL level, and each time he's in the lineup, it's about giving them reasons why they can't take him out. Once the points started to come for him, it gave him confidence.
"It was just about going back to the details and making sure when I was out there, I was working hard," Luff said. "And I think that's really where the points come from, is when you're working hard, that's when you're not gripping the stick too tight or you're not putting too much pressure on yourself."
Reign head coach, Mike Stothers, encouraged Luff to always be about team first, protect your teammates and goalie, and believe in each other. And Luff is bringing that spirit to the Kings organization.
Luff has a lot of work to do to get better, but knows what he needs to focus on.
"I think I'm cheating on offense," Luff said. "I'm thinking about one side of the puck and not both sides."
Luff credits Reign assistant coach Chris Hajt for giving him experience on the penalty kill which gave him a different look on both sides of the puck. And when Luff is playing his best, he's on both sides of the puck and not cheating the offense.
"I have the ability to be an offensive player, but defense leads to offense at the end of the day," Luff said.