DINOSAURS ARE ALIVE, WELL AND COACHING THE LA KINGS

On January 21, 2011, 3:01 p.m., I posted this article about the Jurassic offensive theory our coach calls “shot mentality”

On January 21, 2011, 5:45 pm, Rich Hammond gave us this beauty from Terryosaurus.

Following the “shot mentality” theme of the day, Terry Murray talked today about his per-game goal of having at least 65 pucks put to the net in every game. That can include shots on goal, blocked shots and shots that go wide, the theory being that you can’t always control the number of pucks that go into the net, but you can control the number of times you try. Last night against Phoenix, the Kings had 36 shots on goal, 16 shots blocked and 20 missed shots, for a total of 72 attempts. (The Coyotes, meanwhile, had 39 total attempts.) After practice today, Murray went into great detail about his shot philosophy…

MURRAY: “You’re going to have shots blocked. Teams are playing such a structured, home-plate attitude right now. It’s hard to get the puck through to the net sometimes, but the most important thing is, if you’re defenseman up high or you’re an F3 shooting the puck, you want to miss that first layer, you want to miss that first guy that is coming out at you. If you can miss that first man, then you take the odds, you play the percentages. When you go back through the game last night, all of our chances, the real good offensive-zone time comes from just a shot mentality. You’re just putting pucks back at the net right away. That’s something that has been time-proven, where you keep putting pucks back to the net, and especially (against) goalies that are on a roll, top goaltenders in the league. You want to get them scrambling. You want to get the defensemen out of position and trying to find pucks. You just keep getting pucks back to the net, and the percentages are on your side, that it will find the back of the net.

“You break down, not the original shot, but you recover the puck and put that puck back at the net, and the percentages of pucks that go inYou (start) from that half-second after you recover the original shot, and the further out you go, to five seconds, the percentage of scoring a goal drops right off the table. If you get it in the first two seconds, three seconds, and you’re putting pucks back at the net, the percentage of pucks going in is incredibly high. I don’t have that percentage right now, I don’t remember it, but I’ve looked at this and studied this. That’s the whole (thing with) pucks to the net, no hesitation, rebounds. The fastest that rebound goes back to the net, the higher the percentage of it going in. People are out of position. Goalies are out of position. It finds the five-hole. I thought we did a real good job of that in some shifts last night, putting pucks to the net right after that original shot, and getting back to it. The goalie, give him credit, he made some very big stops. On the other side of it, we just didn’t have, in some cases, enough traffic.”

It’s incredible isn’t it? This is a professional NHL coach. He’s not some parent that is coaching a midget team, trying to teach them the most basic and fundamental aspects of hockey. He is heading our Kings, a talented group of forwards and defensemen, and his answer to our slow demise is throwing more pucks at the net.

I hope you paid particular attention to the areas I bolded. Terryosaurus is apparently of the belief that shots which go wide and are blocked increase the odds of shots going into the net. Think about this for a moment. In baseball, it would be akin to a pitcher believing that throwing balls at home plate would increase the odds of strikes. In football, it would be the same as a quarterback believing throwing passes would increase the odds of touchdowns. In basketball, it would be a team’s offensive strategy of launching balls at the hoop to increase baskets.

Can you imagine a pitching coach telling reporters that his new strategy is “just throwing balls at the catcher. We’re not going to focus on the type of pitch or the circumstances before us in an inning. We’re just tossing balls. I have studied the percentages and the more pitches we throw, the better the odds of getting strikes.” How about Lakers’ head coach Phil Jackson declaring, “we’ve told our players to just launch balls at the basket. The new Lakers’ strategy is not based on good passing, finding the open man and high percentage shots, but just shots for the sake of shots. We’re playing the odds.” And Brett Favre when he came out of retirement telling everyone, “I’m not going to try to hit the receiver anymore. After I get the ball, I’m sending it in the receiver’s general direction. Odds are the pig skin will hit him.”

This is lunacy. This isn’t a strategy. It’s a lack of one. Throwing pucks at the net, even if they go wide or are blocked tells the shooter to stop using his God given skill set and years of developing it and suppress it. Screw skill. Toss talent. Neither are necessary. Just get the puck and shoot it. Whatever happens, happens. Play the odds, not the opponent. Shoot to increase the shot total, not to score.

I suffered through the Andy Murray era with gritty, no talent dump and chase hockey that tried to turn every player into Jeff Giuliano. I thought that maddening period was behind us but it seems we have replaced that with Murray’s Cretaceous period of Kings’ hockey. I pray for evolution.



Categories: L.A. Kings News

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12 replies

  1. More wisdom from Murray:

    “I really am excited about the energy that we play with. We’re playing with a lot of compete. You’ve got to keep coming with that, and keep pushing the front of the net area. You’ve got to find some of the goals, here and there, with extra traffic, with just jamming pucks. Get the crack in the door, and then hopefully everything will open up.”

    Does this sound like an NHL coach in 2011? He’s back to hoping!

  2. Sadly enough, I agree with your take. It may be given some artificial lift though in that Bryz was both lucky and good last game.

  3. Funny. I was skewered for saying this stuff when Murray was first hired.
    My verbal battles ended up getting me in deep trouble with Hammond, though he is gracious enough to let me continue posting on KI still.
    I believe TM would have been better served adding a dynamic offensive coach to assist him, or if he were the assistant to said coach.
    Lots of ‘haters’ out there for my point of view are now saying the same things.
    Cassandra predicted disaster for the Greeks before they sailed off to Troy. They killed her for it.

  4. By the way, Andy Murray and Dave Taylor didn’t get a whole lot of help from ownership. They couldn’t even get enough to keep Boucher around. Guiliano was about all they had money for, and Chartrand. There was a lot of bottom of the barrel stuff back then, but it wasn’t anything like it is today with the amount of skill coming through the draft and the talent available through free-agency and trade.

  5. The only thing that will prove he’s on the right track is wins. He finally after months of fans calling for change, made attempts to do so thursday, without getting any farther ahead. Win and I’ll believe. Keep losing and I’m going to scream with my fingers in my ears every time he spouts The Tao of Murray.

  6. @Bobby Scribe, I read your “article” (it fan rant actually, not an article) and unfortunately I conclude that you know much less about hockey than TM. I know it is hard for you to accept that (especially because team is losing at the moment), but at least try to be realistic for a minute.

    First of all, if you want people to take you seriously, stop comparing ice hockey to other sports. Your analogies are wrong and deceiving. If you want to talk about hockey, then talk about HOCKEY!

    Let’s move on. I will give a strategy, that is completely opposite from Murray’s: never shoot the puck. How many goals would be scored? Close to zero, correct. Of course it is a radical strategy, but I hope that it gives you at least a small reason to think again about your rant.

    Playing the percentages in case IF you see that the puck will go past the first dman IS a good thinking. A shot that is blocked could be as well deflected into a net. Sometimes there is not more than an inch of a difference between both outcomes. Shot that would be missed, can get deflected or it gets into a good scoring opportunity after the rebound (I watch so much hockey that I can’t remember the match, but there was a nice example just last night or the night before that). There are MANY goals that are scored this way. The Kings are sometimes trying too much and if they don’t reach the number of shots of other teams, there is no chance they can score the goals.

    So Terry Murray: 1, you: 0.

    Next round soon, no doubt.

    • Now that I’ve read your comment, I think something may be flying away from you over your head.

      The problem is not the idea of throwing pucks at the net, but rather it is Murray’s only solution instead of opening up the system to allow for BETTER shots at the net. Murray thinks this is, as You say, being too cute. But it only requires cuteness within a system that rarely comes off the boards.

      Granted, the Kings hit a hot spell in that first period tonight. And though I love 3 goals in the first, I’m holding my breath for consistent results.

    • Was that supposed to be analysis? You disagree because you disagree? Nicely done. The point you were trying to make about shots on goal falls on its face when you look at league statistics. Most goals are scored from the triangle (if you don’t know what that is, google it), not from the boards and not from the point. A system that emphasizes the cycle and boards play and keeps the puck away from the middle of the ice is doomed absent perfect execution. That is why the Kings have to work so damn hard for their goals. You watch hockey. That’s nice too. I played it for a lot of years. I have read more books about hockey than you have probably read books in general. Shot mentality hockey is a tired and old strategy that came out of the 70’s and early to mid 80’s. Since goalies have gotten bigger and butter fly goaltenders have become the norm, the strategy has become a failing proposition though it still caters to the less talented teams that don’t have the skill to play a puck possession and stick handling game that opens up lanes. But hey, whatever. It’s your prerogative to agree with Murray. Some Dinosaurs travel in packs.

  7. Ah, awaiting moderation. That is probably the reason, why everyone agrees with you in their comments…

    Sad.

  8. Nice analysis. I really think the Kings’ offensive zone game is so simple and predictable at this point that the opponent knows what’s happening next as much as the Kings do. Their power play is awful, the D is essentially able to nullify the man advantage because the Kings positioning is so bad that one D man can attack the puck AND take away a passing lane at the same time, leaving his teammates to cover the lanes of the other 3 offensive players. How many times do the Kings lose the puck along the hash marks against the boards on the power play with a single opponent pressuring the puck? Too often. How many times do you see a seam pass? Rarely.

    I agree the football analogy is wrong though. A better one would be the team running the same goddamn play every single play. The defense would pick up on that and exploit the strategy. Unpredictability and mixing up your strategy is the key to keeping opponents honest in pretty much any game or sport.

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