The LA Kings haven’t been scoring enough goals to win hockey games on a consistent basis and everybody’s talking about, including coach Terry Murray.
Following practice today, he not only answered questions, he also had some facts to share…
Question: Is the parity in the league – and the fact a lot of teams play the same system – part of the reason for the lack of scoring?
TM: Pre-lockout (2003-04), the number one scoring team in the NHL scored 262 goals (Ottawa). Last season, the top scoring team in the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks, put up 262 goals (note: it was actually 258 last year). So, it hasn’t changed much. The thing that has changed now though is the neutral zone play is much tighter. We saw it last night with Anaheim and we’re seeing it, basically, with every team in the league. Everybody’s pulling back to their own blueline. It’s a very tight structure now in the middle of the ice. It is difficult to have a possession entry. Organized attacks, you can get organized, but there comes a time when you’re being fronted – now, you just have to go get pucks in deep and you have to go recover them. So, it’s hard and it’s hard for everybody in the league right now.
Question: Has there been any change in the system that has led him to believe the offensive numbers would go down?
TM: No. Actually, we’re more aggressive on our forecheck this year than what we were last year. We’re really demanding our second support man to come with a lot more speed from the back of the nets. We anticipated what we saw at the end of the year last (season) – with a lot of the team starting to (become) more defensive through the middle of the ice, at their own blueline. So, we loosened up that second forechecker to get in faster to help support and recover pucks. We’re getting our share of pucks in the offensive zone. The one thing we did a little bit better last night, is starting to come, is move our feet when we get possession of the puck, to create some time and create some space for passing lanes. That was better last night and we need to continue to push it.
Question: Will you emphasize that a little more as you prepare to play Minnesota and Dallas, two of the better teams in the league right now?
TM: Puck recovery is huge. When you do get the puck, have the confidence and composure to hold on to the puck and move your feet. The longer you can have the puck on your stick whenever you’ve recovered it in the offensive zone, and I don’t mean 15 seconds – Peter Forsberg in the the days when he was in Philadelphia, he could hold on to the puck for 30-40 seconds in the offensive zone by himself – but, the more you can have it on your stick, meaning five-six seconds, moving your feet, that creates lanes, creates options and it gets people away from the puck open. It gives them a time now to get to new positions. I think for a stretch here, we’ve been getting the puck and making a play in less than two seconds – like, right now it’s gotta happen. It’s not the right kind of mentality. We’re starting to change, we’re starting to see guys show more composure, hold on to the puck, move their feet, get open now. That buys time, as I mentioned, for the forwards – but, it also loosens up your top band and now we can get pucks through from the blueline.
Lots more from Murray still to come – including his thoughts on Kyle Clifford, Dustin Penner and how the Kings look after 27 games played. In the meantime, please check out the related articles linked below.
[update II: Murray's comments on Penner's recent play are now up here...and - in the don't miss interview of the day - Penner talking about Corey Perry 'milking it' after he hit him has been posted too, click here to read that one]