They say that spouses often take on the personality of their partner and animals begin to mimic their owners over time.
So, it’s no surprise that the Kings, as a team, are somewhat a microcosm of their head coach.
Terry Murray is consistent, yet ever changing (see his lines).
Thus, so are the Kings – evolving, yet stationary.
With round one of the 2011 NHL Playoffs set to begin tomorrow night in San Jose, how are the Kings preparing for the match-up with the Sharks? After all, their six-game season series featured many ‘different’ games – a 4-0 shutout on the road, two overtime affairs, a blowout, etc.
Today’s activities at their practice facility in El Segundo were set to begin with a video review. Murray said, “The clips will be pulled from all of the games we’ve played against them this year. Mind you, they’ll be selective in what I’m going to show.”
He went on to explain that he liked the “attitude” in the December 27th game (when the Kings won 4-0 in San Jose). However, the message couldn’t be as simple as ‘just do what you did in that game.’
So, overall, how does preparation change for the playoffs compared to the regular season?
“Not a lot of change. I’m a big believer that you stay consistent in your day-to-day routine,” said Murray. “You come to the rink and here’s what you’re doing, we did it all year long – get on the ice and go through the same kinds of drills. You select your drills that are more appropriate to that team. But, the routine as an athlete is really important. There are a lot of guys who are superstitious. I know I was when I was a player and I like to be consistent on that part of it.”
What about the memory of the last game in San Jose, a 6-1 win for the Sharks?
“As an athlete you have to be able to move on. It’s that whole sports psychology side of it, where you just put it away in the room, close the door, lock it and throw away the key.”
Then, he slightly modified the thought by adding, “I don’t think you want to forget about all of the games that you just finishing playing, but certainly it is important to change gears and to now prepare yourself for a first round playoff series against one of the premier teams in the league. Time to get down, get focused, look at the positive things you have done against them over the course of the year and making sure you show consistency in your game.”
So, how can you control the pace of the game and try to avoid what happened just a few weeks ago?
“The tempo will get high, the pace will get hectic. We don’t mind that, you know. You just don’t want to get into exchanging rushes. If you’re looking at a track meet kind of a game, then it’s dangerous. But, the tempo and pace of the game is a game that we feel we can play. We have speed, skill. We have four lines that are going to play and we have a backend that are going to be a part of the attack and can move the puck very well. So, again, the priority is that you don’t give odd-man situations coming back at you – that you’re managing the puck the right way through the middle of the ice and making sure you have people above. If they do make great plays coming through you, then you give them credit for it. But, you cant give freebies up.”
And you can’t give up too many goals, period – because the Kings will, most likely, not be scoring very many down at the other end either.