But, what about the team’s poor power play?
Lombardi – “I think they recognize that (it wasn’t as good as last year). That’s the first thing, to realize ‘Hey, it was so good two years ago…’ Ask me about it again in a week.”
Hmmm. He then went on to say…
“One of the things, and this is not singling out the player – because I’ve already said that I think he’s (Kopitar) become one of the most complete players in the game. But, the irony of it is like, I think they have the focus on – I think if you ask the coaches for the biggest areas of improvement is getting our best player – Kopitar, our number one scorer – in situations where he can produce. Because if you look at it, his numbers five-on-five are amongst the tops in the league. His power play, compared to the top guys in the league – for him, five goals – was way down. If he has the average number of power play goals as the other top guys, he’d be one of the top scorers in the league.”
What about his inconsistency?
“I agree. But, like I said, he’s becoming one of the complete players. Has he become a winner yet? No. But, he’s certainly evolving towards it when I see a player make the adjustment to play like he does in his own end. That means he cares and that’s the first step. To me, he’s clearly learned that it’s about team.
“Now, that part you’re talking about – that’s all our responsibility. What’s going on here. We’ve got to get this player – it’s almost like getting Kobe Bryant the ball here. Who do you want in scoring situations, particularly on the power play, it’s your best offensive player. And we have to take a good look at that. The problem is, two years ago it was pretty good. So, what’s happened here? It’s the same players. Doughty should be better. He should be better. Yeah, I think if you look at the structure of it and you see now – there’s also, in fairness, when you see San Jose enter the zone – there’s a skill level issue here.”
He summed it up with “The personnel side, the coaching side, the players side – we all have to look at ourselves. So, when you see San Jose enter in the zone with possession all the time, there’s a level of skill there – that I have to help them get on the rink.”
Or at least I thought he was summing it up.
He went on to add “I have to look at the personnel. The coaches have to figure out how we get our best player in a productive role and then the player’s have to figure it out. So, I think there’s an element of all three there. But, clearly, some of those plays you see being made for zone – and it usually shows up in zone entry, it’s not just when you get in the box, it’s if you’re gaining the zone with possession versus having to dump it in and spend twenty seconds getting it back. So, that’s kind of telling you some things there. But, we were still good enough getting in, as we saw two years ago, where our top guy was in situations where he could be more productive. Clearly, when you ask the coaches what we could have done better, and what has to get better, the power play is going to be on the top of their list.”
Read it again if you didn’t catch it the first time.
There was a lot more ground covered in the meetings this week. For additional notes and quotes from Lombardi and Murray click here.