Tyler Toffoli’s season with the Kings has looked like one of those wild rides on the stock market -- big swings of volatility.
The youngster scored six goals in the first month, slowed down and recorded three goals in November. There was another such swing late in the regular season: six goals in February and three in March. Along with the four goals he scored in between the swings, it adds up to 22 goals in all, matching his age.
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter praised Toffoli’s hockey sense and addressed the roller-coaster season. In the midst of the highs and lows was a bout with mononucleosis, which put the brakes on Toffoli’s season.
"I think he's had a lot of highs and lows in the season, if you look at it," Sutter said after Monday's morning skate at United Center. "He had such a really good start and once we got on the road … that line, then they drew a lot more attention and they drew more of the checking or the top line.
"He's a young player and it really affected him. He just got going again before Christmas and then he had the mono, which set him back, again."
Sutter was displeased, however, by Toffoli's tripping penalty late in the third period against the Wild in a tight game. Minnesota scored to make it 3-1 on the power play and later added an empty-netter.
"Even though he’s continued to score -- there’s been parts of his game -- you even look at the last game," Sutter said. "It's 2-1 and he takes a penalty in the offensive zone. You can’t do that. It ends up 3-1. You can't do that. He’s still got a lot of work to do to be a good player in this league."
What has worked to Toffoli’s advantage, in the bigger picture, is his playoff experience from the Kings' Stanley Cup-winning campaign last season. That included four goals and two assists against Chicago in the Western Conference Final.
"He played a lot of playoff games last year and he’s played really well for us," Sutter said. "That's a big step. There are young guys that don't play playoff games. I bet it is a two- or three-more-year thing if they don't play playoff games in that time. He’s got such good hockey sense. He's a good player that can only get better if he applies the whole package, not over the summer. Every day.
"You have to be consistent every day. You have to have great work habits on the ice and you have to have great preparation skills. You have to take care of yourself. Those are all areas where he should grow."