All of the following quotes are from Rich Hammond.
Terry Murray on the buzz words “shooting mentality”:
MURRAY: Especially at an important time in the game, in that second half. There were not enough pucks going to the net, not enough offensive-zone time in order to get wins on the road. We’re putting a number up there, every game, as a goal that we’ve agreed upon. That’s shots at the net. They don’t actually have to be on net, and we’re off that number considerably. It’s a focal point every game. It’s something we have to be much better at, just trusting our game. When you’re playing against a team that is protecting the lead, like last night, the only way you break it down, that defensive structure, is to keep putting pucks to the net. You’re going to get second and third opportunities, because they have to turn around, they have to try to recover. So now you’ve got a 50-50 chance of recovering and putting more pucks to the net. We haven’t figured that out, here in the last few games.
So, you just want shots thrown at the net? Why not launch them from center ice? Probably get a ton on net. If we are below that number late in the game, send more from our own zone. Will hit your target number, right? But isn’t the object of hockey to get shots in the net? Isn’t that best accomplished by creating lanes through the middle to the net? Aren’t lanes created by spreading out the defense and bringing the defensemen away from the net? I am no mystic, but it seems that good and great teams use their skilled players to play a skill game, by carrying the puck into the offensive zone, backing off defensemen, making cross ice passes for one timers, sending defensemen down low and near the net while rotating forwards to open areas of the ice. You know…hockey. I am clearly nuts. You’re right. We should just focus on shooting pucks at the net. All that other stuff will just happen by itself.
On Matt Greene’s goal:
MURRAY: He doesn’t have any hesitation in his thought process, when the puck comes up top to him. He wants to get it to the net. The way the game is today, you’ve got to bring a lot of shots from the blue line and hope for second and third opportunities.
Ok. I want to make sure I have our offensive system clear. Dump the puck into the corner. Send players to the puck. The opposition pursues or is already there. You hope to get the puck free so you can get it to the half boards and hopefully outwork the opponent enough to hopefully get the puck to the point, have the point man take a shot that hopefully makes it through the bodies, skates and sticks, ultimately to the net in the ultimate hope that it generates a rebound. Does that about cover it? So, when the opponent has figured this out, double teams you at the half boards, does not allow the pass to get to the blue line and if it does, takes away lanes because the opponent knows that you are not looking for the cross ice pass, to move the puck to the middle of the ice above the dots and below the circle, are not looking to take any shot other than a point shot, your response to losing the puck and going the other way will be to try the same thing again the next time around. I see. There is a word for this but I’ll be polite.
Terry Murray on yet more line changes after the St. Louis game:
MURRAY: I just keep looking for that player to fit there with Kopitar. That’s probably the place I’m looking all of the time, with, what can I get here that’s really going to make that line have good chemistry, good feel and be very effective on a consistent basis? So that’s why I do what I do. I’m finding, though, that with Stoll and Smyth and Williams, they go back together last night and they had a good game. I’m finding that kind of consistency with them, so I’ll probably not touch that one in the near future. I’ll let them play. Hopefully everything starts to fall into place, with some results, but I sure liked the way they cycled and the way they had offensive-zone time. But the search goes on, with Kopi’s line.
Question: You’ve gone back to Ponikarovsky in that spot a few times this season. Is that just a situation where you’re hoping the light comes on, that something clicks?
MURRAY: That’s the right word, clicks. You just hope that something starts to click. Chemistry is a very mystical thing. It clicks or it doesn’t. There are reads, plays happen and there are some signs, obviously, in the game that you look for, off cycles, off O-zone play, off reads and support. Right now, it’s just not there. So I’ll see what I do after I finish up this afternoon, and start messing around with the lines again.
This is the same Ponikarovsky that you have tried on the first line before, right? The same one that shortly after you put on the first line, you decided would not work out…just because it didn’t…not because you were actually patient enough to give it some time. And that is because you are looking for “clicks.” That’s how chemistry works. It’s not like a mixing of chemicals and patience to let the right formula develop, it’s more…mystical…a sort of wiggling of the nose, waving of the wand or the proverbial snap of the finger and viola, chemistry. That’s why you never stop messing with the lines. Why the hell didn’t you just say that before? If we knew that sorcery was driving your line changes and game plan, we could have saved a lot of time on this site trying to make sense of it.
Let’s move on.
Our look at Dean Lombardi’s interview is coming up next.