Shot Mentality And Players’ Roles

I love it when readers submit their articles to us. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. It means they felt so passionate about a subject that they needed an outlet and internet message boards where the word “poop” appears as p**p and statements like “Go To Hell Ducks Fan” somehow show up on the screen as, “shucks, I feel unhealthy negative emotions against you, let’s be friends (edited by moderator)” just won’t cut it anymore. It is unfiltered, honest and unabashed. Here is our reader, Sydor25’s article. I haven’t read it yet but knowing his history of comments, I will guess it is strong praise for Terry Murray and a scolding to each of you who refuse to accept that defense in the absence of offense is worth defending. Without further adieu, enjoy! – Bobby Scribe.

For 3+ years we’ve all heard Terry Murray talk about a “shot mentality” and how it will improve the goals scored. He’s also talked about 5-on-5 scoring and the improvement needed by the Kings. That I agree with, 5-on-5 scoring is a huge indicator of a strong team; the last three Stanley Cup Champions have been 1st, 2nd and 4th in 5-on-5 goals. The Kings under Murray have been 30th, 18th, 17th and currently 23rd after 8 games. Let’s see if shots on goal have any bearing on goals scored by the Kings.

The Kings were 30th (dead last) in the NHL in 5-on-5 goals during Murray’s first season in LA. They were 17th in shots per game. So the Kings were middle of the road in shots, but the worst scoring 5-on-5 team. We all know the Kings had an okay PP% that season (17th), but LA missed the playoffs. So we learn that the PP% and shots don’t equal wins. The Stanley Cup Champion Penguins were 4th in 5-on-5 goals that season, 20th in PP% and 18th in shots.

In Murray’s second season the Kings improved to 18th in 5-on-5 goals and made the playoffs, ultimately losing in the first round. The Kings PP% was ranked 7th and their shots per game ranked 22nd. So the Kings’ 5-on-5 scoring improved and their shots per game rank decreased (but their shots stayed the same at 29.1 per game). So LA’s 5-on-5 scoring went from 114 to 145 while taking the same number of shots. According to the shot mentality, this can’t happen. The Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks were 2nd in 5-on-5 goals, 16th in PP% and 1st in shots per game. Chicago was a dominate team that season.

Last year, Murray’s third season, the Kings improved to 17th in 5-on-5 goals (145 to 148) and again made the playoffs, losing again in the first round. The Kings PP% was ranked 21st in the NHL and their shots per game ranked 23rd at 28.8 shots per game. So, the Kings took fewer shots and score more 5-on-5. This again contradicts Murray’s shot mentality. The Stanley Cup Champion Bruins were 1st in 5-on-5 goals, 20th in PP% and 3rd in shots per game – another dominate Stanley Cup Champion. This shows some correlation between shots and 5-on-5 scoring, but again confirms that the PP% isn’t important.

So, there might be something to the shot mentality overall, but it hasn’t meant anything to the Kings. So why is Murray still preaching a shot mentality and not changing the Kings’ overall attack? I think the Kings would be better served with clearly defined and different roles for each line. It is stupid to ask the Richards line to be the “shutdown” line and still score 5-on-5. Those are 2 very different roles and they don’t lend themselves to each other. Penner is being treated exactly the same as Frolov and Poni. They were also asked to take on a defensive role and still score at the same rate as a player in an offensive role. It is also not a good idea to treat every player and every line the same. There is no use fitting square pegs in round holes. A good coach identifies his players’ strengths and weaknesses and puts them in a position to be successful. Individual success translates to team success, especially when everyone has a clearly defined role.

My assigned roles would be:

1st line – Scoring Role: Penner-Kopitar-Williams. They don’t have to worry as much about the “checking side” of the game. Just score and create. It starts in the offensive zone more than the other lines and there are very few defensive zone starts. This line is rarely used against top offensive lines.

2nd line – Scoring Role / Slightly more 2-way play: Gagne-Richards-Brown. Play more of a 2-way game than the Kopitar line, but primarily a scoring line. Gets some starts in the defensive zone. Used against offensive lines when the 3rd line is tired.

3rd line – Defensive role, no high expectations of scoring 5-on-5: Moreau-Stoll-Hunter. Starts in neutral and defensive zone. Plays hard and cycles, more of a dump and fore-check game. Plays more conservative than the other lines. BTW, Stoll and Moreau have the lowest goals against per 60 minutes on the team. Take away the expectations of scoring and they are a successful line.

4th line – Speed and energy: Clifford-Richardson-Lewis. Mostly neutral zone and offensive zone starts, no defensive zone starts. Use their speed and energy to harass the opponent. No expectations to play a “heavy” game.

When Westgarth plays, Lewis moves to the defensive line.

Of course, these roles aren’t absolutes and hockey is a very free flowing game. Kopitar and Richards will still be strong 2-way centers, but by limiting Kopitar’s defensive zone starts, his line has greater offensive chances per game. Starting this line in the defensive zone restricts far too much their chances of scoring goals and scoring goals leads to wins. Relying on the PP and goalie is not a recipe for long term success. In the past 2 games, the Kings had only 1 PP opportunity per game. If the Kings had the best PP in the history of the game, they would have still only scored 1 more goal per game, which isn’t enough to win. 3 goals is the main tipping point for wins in the NHL.

Now you have a basis for evaluating each line. If the Stoll line is getting lit up, then you can discipline/bench the player(s) or move the 4th line guys up a line. If the top lines aren’t scoring, then you can discipline/bench the player(s) and move them down a line or 2. This prevents the second guessing and scapegoating of specific players. If Penner is in an offensive role and isn’t producing, then move him down to the 4th line. But if you are asking him to be a defensive player and his goals against are low per 60 minutes, then you can’t get on him for not scoring. He will never be an elite 2-way player like Datsyuk and asking him to be is just stupid. If Brown isn’t scoring, then move him down to the checking line and let him excel there. Even Richards is struggling to score 5-on-5, which isn’t a surprise when he is assigned the toughest opponents.

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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14 replies

  1. O.K. Read your posts after last night’s game – was hoping for an elaboration of this subject/these problems. Proposals are coherent, and the focus on what needs to be done on the ice is the best starting point.

    My question: between your proposals (or possible functional alternatives)and reality lies a gentleman who thinks otherwise.
    As things stand, it is hard to believe we will see a revision of our scheme, or the evolution of it. Are we making an argument for our G.M. to instruct our coach or replace him?

  2. Excellent job Sydor25. I had commented back to you on Hammonds blog about his “Shot mentality”, and where I stand, but I think it bares repeating here. As you’ve stated in your article about the lack of shots, and scoring. I touched on Murrays refusal to adjust. I think were definately in agreement here. I wrote:

    “I’m definately not on board with shot mentality. As you’ve stated the 5 on 5 is a problem. Simply telling the team to fight through well prepared counter measures instead of making adjustments is wearing thin on me. I did say I’d give him more time this season, but showing improvement is driving me nuts.

    It’s like saying the system has nothing to do with it, and it’s all the players fault they can’t fight off double coverage, and sticks in the lane to get the shot through.”

    Murray has consistantly burned through offensive players in an attempt to turn them into defensive 2 way players, and I’m definately on board with your stance on Penner. Only 4 Kings had better numbers offensively last season. Green, Scuds, Brown, and Williams. Brown, Greene, and Scuds we’re only talking a couple of points anyway, and Williams had a lot more games than the previous year (so obviously he scored more).

    Everybody else on the team took a hit on their numbers offensively. The offnse has went down with every free agent that’s come our way as soon as they get rooted and grounded in Murrays system. The offense is going backwards for everybody.

  3. My issue with TM’s shot mentality is that it seems to be a “throw the puck at the net at whatever cost” approach. Getting pucks on net is important don’t get me wrong. If you don’t put a puck on net it’s going to be very difficult to score no arguing that. My beef is where these shots are coming from and how they’re getting there.

    Let’s say a team went crazy and had 50 shots on goal. But when you break down where those shots came from let’s say 75-80% (37-40) came from above the circles, near the boards or just inside the blue line, 10% (5) came from the slot, 10% (5) came from sharp angles. Not to say those from just inside the blue line don’t go in (JJ’s shot against Dallas) but the likelihood is generally less than a more higher % scoring area (slot).

    Some of these teams with great offensive numbers, watch how they play in the Ozone. Watch what they do with the puck. How they hold the puck a little longer, or fake a shot to make a defender go sprawling, or wait for a defender to check him and pass to the open guy, or an RH shot off LW cutting across, etc. No doubt these teams will also take those shots up top also but they are more Creative with the puck.

    My point being is that if we take those 50 shots and decrease the % of shots from the lower % scoring areas and increase the % of shots from the higher scoring areas, then statistically we should have more goals. But to me it doesn’t seem that TM gives a shit about that. He just wants a shot on net mentality which might mean a weak wrister from the blue line in on net where the goalie sees it no problem. TM’s system seems to lack that creativity.

    How are the Kings near the bottom in scoring with this much firepower???

  4. “How are the Kings near the bottom in scoring with this much firepower???”

    Exactly. I was talking to my Dad about this recently. The Kings have scored 17 goals in 8 games, which is 2.125 goals/game. And let’s not forget that 2 of these goals came in the Overtime period during 4-on-3 powerplays. Look at Nashville: 16 goals in 8 games. We’ve scored 1 more goal that Nashville thus far this season….who does Nashville have that people say, “Wow, that guy can score a ton of goals!” ..?? We have Kopitar, Williams, Penner (who has scored 30 goals in his career..), Richards, Gagne, Brown…..I’m sorry, but if the “system” can’t get our team to score more than 2.125 goals a game, then the “system” is flawed and should be changed. Coaches like Trotz get the maximum ability out of his players…he knows the strengths of each player and he knows the systems of other teams, how else does Nashville make the playoffs every damn year? Murray, even though he wants his forwards to be “multi-dimensional” in their offensive and defensive capabilities, what he’s really doing is suffocating the hell out of certain players.

    The last few years I’ve always joked that the Kings was the place where free agents come to die…because it seems none of them have any success adapting to Murray’s constipated system. We can play defense, which is great, but we can’t hold the other team to 0,1,2 goals a game every single game…especially in the playoffs (San Jose…..) …It seems that’s what Murray wants every game…1-0, or 2-1 victories….JUST ENOUGH scoring to scrape by. It simply cannot work over the long term season.

    I do like what Murray has done for Kopitar’s game, he’s turned him into a dynamic two-way player, however, I still wonder how many goals/points Kopitar would put up playing for an offensive minded team…it’d be staggering, I’m sure.

    We’ll be dealing with this all year long. Staring at our TV’s, or staring at the ice, wondering how the shit this team only scored 1 goal for yet another game. And it’s not something we’ll get used to.

    Nearly everyone has been hard on Penner, but I absolutely agree that he has fallen victim to the ‘Frolov/Poni” category…Murray throws these guys into deep water w/ cinder blocks that weigh a ton around their ankles and tells them to swim 10 miles to shore. Impossible expectations to meet.

    Murray isn’t going anywhere…somehow we better make peace w / it.

  5. Let’s see if shots on goal have any bearing on goals scored by the Kings.

    … I like that you covered a very important topic like 5-on-5 offense. Let’s delve into this a bit further, though, and see if it gets us closer to where we want to be. One of the ways that can be done is to look at shooting percentages 5-on-5 and try to notice any trends.

    In 07-08, Crawford’s last season, the Kings 5-on-5 shooting percentage was 8.6%, good for 14th in the NHL, and slightly higher than the NHL average (8.4%). The Kings were about average offensively (2.3 goals per 60 minutes, tied for 16th) despite a shot average that was on the low side (27.4 shots per 60, ranked 21st).

    In 08-09, Murray took over. The Kings had a shooting percentage of just 7.2%, tied for 25th, and the league average stayed the same, 8.4%. Obviously the Kings’ offense suffered (2.0 goals per 60 minutes, tied for last) despite taking a few more shots (28.0 per 60, tied for 21st).

    In 09-10, the Kings brought their shooting percentage back up to 8.5%, and that number tied for 8th in the NHL, and once again, the league average was 8.4%. The Kings were tied for 12th in the NHL in goals per 60 minutes (2.4) despite taking virtually the same number of shots as they did the season before (28.1 per 60, ranking 24th).

    Last season, the Kings maintained their shooting percentage at 8.5%, tied for 9th in the league, and the league average dipped a bit – to 8.2%. As a result of the shooting percentage staying the same, the offense matched the season before as well (2.4 goals per 60 minutes, tied for 14th) as the shots on goal dipped slightly (27.9 per 60, tied for 25th).

    So now, we’re at the present day, with the Kings struggling for offense. And – do you know what the Kings 5-on-5 shooting percentage is so far? It’s just 6.5%. That’s tied for 22nd in the NHL, and far below the league average, which has dropped itself, down to 7.8%. The Kings are tied for 23rd in goals per 60 minutes (1.7) and rank 24th in shots per 60 (25.8).

    So, with all this, some questions pop up. Is Murray’s system flawed when it comes to getting high percentage shots at 5-on-5? If so, why were the Kings above average in shooting percentage the last two seasons? Were the Kings just lucky those two years? That’s quite a long time to be lucky. Do shooting percentage numbers regress to the mean naturally? Well, we’d have to study the numbers over a longer period of time to see if that’s true. Unfortunately, the exact data isn’t there before ’07; we’d need to use estimates.

    Are opponents better at shutting the Kings down now than they were before? Are the opposing goalies better at scouting the Kings’ shooters? Are the Kings, with the new acquisitions, still in the process of “gelling” as a cohesive team? Or are the Kings just unlucky in the early going and we can expect percentages to improve as the season goes along?

    Consider this: the Kings are allowing a shooting percentage of just 4.8% – the lowest figure in the NHL. Is that going to last? Is the Kings’ defense and goaltending REALLY the best in the NHL, or are we just looking at abnormally low shooting efficiency in the early part of the season in Kings’ games?

    If you ask me, the Kings are due to do two things: they will score more goals, but they will give up more goals as well – in fact, I think they’re going to give up more goals at a higher rate than they will score them, but both numbers will likely go up. The Kings are getting outshot quite a bit at 5-on-5 (25.8 shots for, 29.0 shots allowed per 60 minutes) and that will start to bite them in the ass if they don’t improve those areas. This is the first season the Kings have been outshot at 5-on-5 in the Terry Murray era, and it’s by a wide margin. Again, it’s early. We’ll check back on these figures later on in the season.

    • Thanks for those stats, but Murray isn’t really asking the Kings to take more high quality shots, he’s just asking for more shots. So, if the Kings just take more shots to get their totals up, wouldn’t that reduce their shooting percentage to the NHL average or below?

      JT, since the Kings had a better shooting percentage last year, was this due to the new players being better or were players like Kopitar and Brown at a percentage higher than their career average? With Gagne and Richards on the team, shouldn’t the Kings have a higher shooting percentage this year? Is Brown, Williams and/or Koptiar shooting below average to start this season?

      You brought some interesting points, were are you getting the 5-on-5 shooting stats from? I would like to look into them myself. Does the site break down shots by player 5-on-5?

      • Thanks for those stats, but Murray isn’t really asking the Kings to take more high quality shots, he’s just asking for more shots.

        … Well, that’s the story he’s been giving to the media for quite some while. But, again – if the Kings’ approach to shooting was truly “shoot for the sake of shooting” then why have they been a team that has produced low quantity and above-average quality shooting over the last two seasons? It doesn’t jibe.

        And I went here for my numbers. They break it all down, by team and by player.

        • What jibes is that we have talented players. Your stats are directly in line with a team that scores well when they he opportunities, but don’t get enough opportunities. That can only be the system. If they had above average shots on goal and below average shooting percentage, then you can blame the players for Not being good enough to finish, Or the system for generating only low quality shots. With the stats proving That the kings score at a good clip compared to shots taken, in the face of being poor 5on5 and in overall goals, then it can only mean that the Kings have talent to score when the opportunities are There, but clearly there aren’t enough opportunities themselves. If We just look at thestats without watching the game it would seem perplexing, but in light Of watching Murray for 4 years, It makes perfect sense.

          I guess you could argue that the system generates high percentage shots But the players don’t execute Well enough to get more of those shots, but again, That’s where watching the games comes in handy.

        • Maybe because the other teams know what the kings are trying to do and getting in the shooting lanes? Dallas had 26 blocked shots against the Kings. That’s a lot of rubber thrown at the net that were blocked. Most of the blocks were from point shots.

          Have the blocked shot against the Kings gone up over the past three years? I don’t know, but it would be interesting to see if they have. Are the Kings attempting the same number of shots and more are getting blocked? I don’t know.

          Obviously we don’t what is being said in the room or at practice about the shots he wants his players to take, but publicly he has only talked about the number of shots taken and how he wants his team to go for lucky bounces and rebounds. Using Murray’s “system”, I just don’t see how the Kings can get someone in front of the goalie quick enough for the point shots to be considered high quality. Murray just wants more puck directed at the net and hope for bounces and rebounds. He’s said that in the past. He does talk about movement on the PP, but I haven’t heard him talk about using movement 5-on-5 to generate higher quality chances.

          Thanks for the link. Are there any other sites that you use for NHL stats (besides

          • Something I’ve also noticed That I find interesting is that when the Kings do have games where they score well, they score the same types of goals. Now I don’t mean they always score one kind of goal, I mean game to game.

            One game they score the transition, pretty goals. The next they score the garbage down low goals. The next Its point shots. They can only seem to manage one aspect of offense at a time. Don’t know what that means but I’ve been picking up on it.

            Something we also haven’t discussed yet is shots that go wide. This could have something to do with that shooting percentage anamoly (they are looking to pick corners too much ) which to be fair, is something Murray has talked about often. Sadly, when he comes out as “we are trying to.get cute (ie make skilled plays) and I Dont like that”

            However especially in that last game I saw waaaay to many shots sail wide, especially from the point. I think you nailed it Sydor when you said the attempt of rotation allows opposing defensemen to get in the way. The kings are looking to force a point shot, The dman gets the.Puck, looks up, sees no daylight but also is now left with no option but to shoot. So instead of shooting at a guys shin pads, he shoots wide. This just kills offense and momentum, but it is a result of the players adhering to the system too stringently.

            I almost wonder if Murray wants that point shot to come once the opposition has bodies in the way. The whole ‘screen the goalie’ thing and all is great, but when its the other team doing it, the results are very different than when your team is screening. You are relying even more on luck.

            Sadly I firmly believe that in Murray’s head, the point shot with 3 or 4 bodies in front of the net is the most high percentage play there is. He thinks skill plays are Just cute. I wonder if he thinks Detroit’s cups are just cute too.

    • I did pledge to give Murray 20 games in before I made a real assessment. The low goals for has me doubting him after only 8 games. The goal differential is -4 even though the Kings got 3 shutouts in a row by Quick.

      The only real reason we are winning isn’t from luck, but a direct result of Quick stopping .972 of the shots he’s faced. The losing on the other hand has come from Bernier only stopping .857 of the shots he’s faced. Quick has faced 180 shots, and let in 5, while Bernier has faced 40 and gave up 7.

      Question: there are 11 recorded goals against our 2 goaltenders, 1 shootout goal which doesn’t record against goals against for Quick, which accounts for 12 goals against. The Kings in the standings are credited with 13 goals against.

      Where is the extra goal (#13) coming from?

      • Nevr mind my math skills. 7+5=12+1 shoot out. Sorry for the confusion on my part.

      • I believe shootout losses count in those overall stats, since the final score of those games have That one goal for winning a shootout included regardless of how many goals are scored in the shootout. I could be wrong though.

  6. Half-surprised at how few comments this has generated – it isn’t an easy subject, but, it gets to the heart of things.
    Hope its had a lot of reads.


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