Not even Jarret Stoll knew what Tyler Toffoli was saying.
“No clue,” said Stoll, the former Kings player and current FS West intermission analysts. “Sorry Toff.”
Toffoli had gone off-script during Tuesday’s first intermission report, having been pulled aside to describe the sharp-angle goal Dustin Brown had scored with 10 seconds remaining in the opening period, a tally that concluded an eight-shot, 33-second sequence in the Kings’ 3-1 win over the New York Rangers at Staples Center.
“It was a bit of a Spumoni shift there,” Toffoli said, half-smiling at a term rooted so deep in hockey lore, few players even know what it means.
“No idea,” a puzzled Drew Doughty said.
“Not myself,” Blake Lizotte said with a chuckle when asked if he uses the term, which, when searched on the internet, returns images of Italian ice cream.
Defenseman Matt Roy finally filled in the blanks. In short, Spumoni — derived from the bear-fighting scene in the 2008 film “Semi-Pro” — has been co-opted into a hockey code word for a long shift stuck in one end of the ice. Toffoli summed it up using layman’s lexicon.
“Nuts,” he said. “It’s crazy.”
Whatever the meaning, the Kings benefited from it Tuesday night, riding Toffoli’s bounce-back performance to their first win in five games.
Before Tuesday, Toffoli had gone nine games without a goal. On Monday, coach Todd McLellan said that Toffoli “had more to give,” then dropped the former 30-goal scorer to the fourth line against the Rangers. Two months after healthy-scratching Toffoli, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, McLellan was challenging the 27-year-old forward again.
Against that backdrop, Toffoli delivered his best performance in weeks, playing on both wings and creating havoc all over the ice.
“I feel like there’s a general consensus that, I know that I need to play better,” said Toffoli, who has 15 points in 31 games. “I accept that ... and I thought I did it tonight.”
Toffoli’s first-period assist came mid-line change, leaving him on the ice alongside top-liners Brown and Anze Kopitar during the breathless shooting barrage. In the second, Toffoli doubled the Kings’ lead by outmuscling a defenseman in front of the net to knock home a rebound. In the third, he and new linemates Matt Luff and Michael Amadio played key minutes to help goalie Jonathan Quick complete an electric 29-save win.
“He managed the game well,” McLellan said of Quick, who also dealt with several bouncing pucks around his crease, “and he made the saves when we needed them.”