Shot Mentality Shot Down Forever – Why Terry Murray Must Go

I am not a statistic guy. I have no idea if this stat exists. If it does not, we may have created it. The stat is designed to determine how many shots on goal are actually scoring chances and the percentage relationship between the two. Scoring chances are shots on goal within the Scoring Chance Zone (see diagram below).

It’s simple.

First, you are already familiar with what constitutes a shot on goal. No matter from where the shot comes, if the goalie saves it, it’s a shot on goal. Shots are a poor way of measuring offensive success. It’s not coincidence that teams which are often outshot by the opponent still win. That is because there is a more important statistic and that is scoring chances. The NHL does not officially track scoring chances. That may be because there is a bit of subjectivity to the stat. However, one thing most agree upon is the correct dimensions of the ice surface within which shots are considered scoring chances. Here is a diagram of that scoring area as outlined by a green mark.

(Scoring Chance Zone)

We call the area in green the “Scoring Chance Zone” (SCZ for short).

You are already familiar with Terry Murray’s shot mentality approach. “Get the puck, shoot.” Don’t have a lane? SHOOT! That’s it. The Kings’ offensive system is built around this system and you see it, in large part, during the LA Kings’ cycles when the team gets the puck to the point and fires away versus what good offensive teams do, which is to actually maintain possession and try to get the puck to the SCZ. Terry Murray is however of the impression the more shots you try to get to the net, the more pucks will get there and the more goals the Kings will score. Unfortunately, so many of the LA Kings shots get blocked (to nobody’s surprise but Murray’s) because they come from the point, outside the SCZ and those that do get through are often easily stopped.

Realize that doesn’t mean shots from the point are useless. Teams score goals that way, especially when there is traffic. However, it cannot be the cornerstone of an offense if that offense is to have any consistency whatsoever.

Let’s look at the Kings v. Penguins game. I will have the numbers for you on the Kings v. Sharks game later tonight or tomorrow.

In the first period, the Kings had 8 shots on goal. How many were in the SCZ? 3 and 2 of them were at sharper angles. Take a look at the illustration below and click on it for the larger image (my apologies for the H and P you see on some of the flags. Those represent Hits and Penalties and I don’t yet know how to turn them off):

(Kings vs Penguins, First Period, LA Kings Shots)

The Penguins had 14 shots on goal. 8 of those shots were within the SCZ if you don’t count their goal. The goal was just outside the SCZ (almost on the line) but I still didn’t count it.

(Kings vs. Penguins, First Period, Penguins Shots)

Here is the second period. The Kings had 13 shots on goal. Pretty good, right? Well, 6 came from the SCZ including Anze Kopitar’s goal. Look at how many shots came from the outside, essentially padding the shot stats. Imagine if the Kings actually worked those pucks into the SCZ.

(Kings vs. Penguins, Second Period, LA Kings Shots)

In the same period, the Penguins had 10 shots on goal. 8 were within the SCZ. So, while the Pens got 3 less shots on goal, they had 2 more scoring chances.

(Kings v. Penguins, Second Period, Penguins Shots)

We then get to the third period. The Kings had 5 shots on goal. 2 were within the SCZ but we will count it as 3 because Anze’s is so close.

(Kings vs. Penguins, Third Period, LA Kings Shots)

The Penguins had 8 shots on goal. 6 came within the SCZ. I am not going to count the one that you see just above the top of the circle although it is as close to the line as that of Anze’s.

(Kings vs. Penguins, Third Period, Penguins Shots)

In overtime, the Kings had no shots on goal. The Penguins had one and it was within the SCZ (just inside the line).

(Kings vs. Penguins, Overtime, Kings & Penguins Shots)

The Kings played a decent offensive game right? Again, only if you’re Terry Murray. What did we really learn? For the LA Kings, of the 26 shots on goal, 11 came from the SCZ. That means 42% of our shots were scoring chances. For the Penguins, of the 33 shots on goal, 21 came from the SCZ. That is 63%, over 20% better than us. Also, while the difference in shots was only 7, the Penguins had nearly TWICE AS MANY scoring chances as the LA Kings.

Curious about the previous games? Without more diagrams, here are the numbers:

Kings vs. Oilers (Loss 3-0)

The + separates each period.

LA Kings: 19 shots on goal: 1+ 2 + 3 = 6 scoring chances

Edmonton Oilers: 27 shots on goal: 7+ 3 + 6 = 16 scoring chances.

Pretty pathetic. Only 31% of our shots were scoring chances. For the Oilers, that number was 59%. They also had 10 more scoring chances.

Kings vs. Avalanche (Loss 3-2)

LA Kings: 32 shots on goal: 4 + 7 + 3

Colorado Avalanche: Only 16 shots on goal but: 3 + 2 + 4

We doubled up Colorado in shots on goal. We had 14 scoring chances. Colorado only had 16 shots on goal. They had 10 scoring chances. See the problem? The difference in scoring chances is only a difference of 4. 18 LA Kings shots on goal were not quality scoring chances (for a meager 43%) while Colorado managed to get 71% within the SCZ. Beginning to understand why teams that shoot more don’t win more?

Kings v. Coyotes (Loss 3-2)

LA Kings: 39 shots on goal: 7 + 7 + 3 + 0 (OT)

Phoenix Coyotes: 33 shots on goal: 5 (they had 3 shots just outside or on the line but I did not count them) + 7 + 6 + 2 (OT)

We had 6 more shots on goal but the Coyotes had 20 scoring chances to our 17. Our conversion rate of shots to scoring chances was 43% (seeing a pattern?). The Coyotes conversion rate was 60%.

I decided to go back one more game, a victory against the Dallas Stars.

Kings v. Stars (Win 5-3)

LA Kings: 29 shots on goal: 6 + 8 + 4 (Voynov’s goal came from the outside as did the empty netter)

Dallas Stars: 33 shots on goal: 6 + 8 + 4 (and they converted 2 of them)

Well, well, well. Each team had 18 scoring chances and, even though the Stars outshot us, we still won. Our shot to scoring chance percentage was 62%. The Stars’ number was 54%. This is not coincidence. We played a good game, a game uncharacteristic of our typical game and of Terry Murray’s offensive system.

So, where does this leave us?

Almost without exception, the goals came within the SCZ. Ryan Smyth’s goal that went off Martinez’s stick was the lone albatross in that game although, technically, Alec’s stick was in the SCZ. Matt Duchene’s third period goal was just outside of the SCZ. Slava Voynov’s goals was also a point shot. We don’t count the empty netter.

I looked at games around the league. I randomly picked games and looked at the numbers. It applies across the board. Teams that get shots within the SCZ score more goals. The great majority of goals come within the SCZ.

This is not rocket science. I would have been shocked if I saw anything else. This is not only common sense, it is the new NHL. All the good teams know this. All the good teams focus their offensive system on getting pucks to the SCZ and getting shots within the zone…all good teams except the LA Kings. What does Terry Murray want? More shots on goal. There is no focus on scoring chances. Murray is blind to it. It’s not even relevant to his offensive system. What do the LA Kings need? More scoring chances. More pucks within the SCZ.

Will it happen?

I am sorry to say, only if Murray overhauls his offensive system or the LA Kings get a new coach who will.

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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38 replies

  1. Hey at least we met our quota.

  2. Amen brother, Amen

  3. Kings were not strong enough on the puck tonight. Faceoffs were solid, but then puck management not competitive. My big gripe tonight is with Terry Murray. When the Guppies scored twice in less than a minute, it was an obvious time out moment. It just may have regrouped our guys and avoided the game winning goal that came a bit later, and we may have had a 2-2 tie late or possibly better. Instead he used the timeout when it was too late.

  4. Finally! Thanks for putting this up! This is exactly what I’ve been saying about this really lame “shot mentality” bit. You have to be some kinda retard to think you’re gonna score goals without shooting the puck. Of course we need a shot mentality Murray! But it’s Where you shoot the puck from that really gives the Best opportunity to put the fricken puck in the net and this illustration shows this.

    My concern is has TM’s system really numbed the creative senses of the players on all lines? Look at that goal that SJ had where the guy skated in pulled up, and Marleau drove the net for the tip. Now that’s being creative. That’s called Reading the Play. Our players are having a difficult time doing that. Put it in deep, cycle, get back on D, repeat…it’s insanity. Love how Bob or Jim commented about the “2 goal quota.”

    I made a comment last season that it doesn’t really matter if we bring over Ovechkin, Crosby and Kane because the system sucks and I got blasted for it. Everyone team knows we have the firepower. Who the hell knows maybe the team will turn it around. They did show some grit towards the end.

    One thing they are not doing as much as they Should be doing is moving their feet through the neutral zone more. They should be trying to build more speed even if that means skating diagonally through the zone. You coast through the zone and you’re pretty much forced to dump. Frustrating game…

    • I would say neutral zone play is one of our biggest weaknesses. Standing around, covered like flies on shit, no passing lanes available.

      Tonight we were owned on the boards, but a lot of that was SJ knowing what we were going to do on the breakout before we did. They had a strong forecheck and collapsed on the wing, often with 3 guys.

      We need something else from time to time than just the standard winger at the hash marks and a non-threatening off winger. Send him picking for cherries sometimes, let him get behind the D and see if they step back off the blue line. I dunno, I’m not trying to be coach, just pointing out other obvious options we have.

  5. LA Kings: 19 shots on goal: 1+ 2 + 3 = 6 scoring chances

    Edmonton Oilers: 27 shots on goal: 7+ 3 + 6 = 16 scoring chances.

    … According to the guys over at MC79, who do this for every Oilers’ game during the season (and every game during the playoffs), the scoring chances were 12-7 in favor of the Oilers.

    It would be cool if you and I sat down and documented scoring chances during a game, and compared what we had. There is a site with a script that allows for entering scoring chances by the time of the game when they occurred, and the script will spit out every player who was on the ice at the time of each chance.

    It’s very upsetting that the NHL doesn’t track scoring chances in each game, nor do they track zone times (which they actually used to do). Obviously there’s going to be some subjectivity in the tracking, but the same is true for any real-time stat shots on goal, missed shots, blocked shots, etc) and over a long season those errors will lose their significance. We’re just trying to figure out trends; we don’t need exact numbers, anyway.

    • I am trying to take the subjectivity out of it. Almost everyone agrees where the scoring zone is. That is the area within the green lines. If shots come within that area, it’s going to be a scoring chance the great majority of the time. Can you “subjectively” be critical of a shot within that zone? Sure. One person would state it is a scoring chance and one person may disagree. That is why the focus of where the shots come from is the ultimate objective criteria and it is not coincidence that nearly every goal comes within that SCZ.

      I do like your idea of tracking it but we would need to then compare our numbers to the data, above. It is akin to a stat within a stat.

      In any event, Murray is done. He’s cooked. I hope Lombardi is paying real close attention because the “youth” excuse is gone. These are veterans.

      • I am trying to take the subjectivity out of it. Almost everyone agrees where the scoring zone is.

        … True, that. But the velocity of a shot also comes into play, of course; sometimes a shot can be from so close, that it almost shouldn’t even count as a scoring chance because it’s an easy save. I don’t think you’re ever going to take the subjectivity out of it, but if you have a consistent system, you’ll do well with it.

        Once I get back to Cali, and start watching the games on my big TV at home instead of a stream online, I’ll be better equipped to really try my hand at tracking this stuff. I’ve shied away from doing this in the past because I’m such a multitasker while watching the games, so it’ll be a bit of a challenge.

        I hope Lombardi is paying real close attention because the “youth” excuse is gone. These are veterans.

        … Absolutely right. It pains me to see the team struggle like this; I was excited for the season to start too. My expectations weren’t to be Cup contenders, but I did expect the team to be solid enough during the season to battle the Wings for the fourth spot in the conference (behind the Sharks, Canucks, and Blackhawks) and try to secure that home-ice in the first round. It’s still early, and they still can get hot and get back in that position, but I was afraid of the team struggling out of the gate.

        I wonder if you think the team is deliberately playing like shit in order to get the coach fired. That thought went through my head for a hot second tonight while watching them implode in the second period.

        • I would like to believe no professional athlete would do such a thing but I see a very frustrated team out there, one that is trying too hard, pressing too much and doesn’t appear to have confidence in what they are doing and are told to do.

  6. About Pens…does this guy even wanna play hockey anymore? $4+ mil/year must be nice cruising around on the ice. I’ll take that job.

    • I thought he played pretty well tonight.

      • You mean for one fucking period? :)

      • When I see a player get rid of the puck relatively quickly, to me that means the guy has very little confidence with the puck. He needs to take more initiative with the puck and skate with the damn thing because he’s got some time and space. That one play he made when he received a pass past the red line then dropped it back. Wtf??? If he was completely stationary I can understand that but he was moving. Skate with the GD puck! That’s his problem he has a hard time skating with it.

  7. You’ll love this Bobby, although I suspect you’ve seen it.

    from @mayorNHL
    “coach on changes made between 1st and 2nd period – `We adjusted the forecheck…we let LA come out of their zone too easy in 1st’ “

  8. From this site (November 28, 2009):

    “One constant over the past ten games, other than every Kings’ player being in the minus, has been their lack of offensive output and creativity..”

    This has been going on for a while. This is not new. Its time to move on. I am thinking about an “Occupy Staples” movement. Of course I’m kidding. Am I?

    • Lol. I said to Bobby on the phone after the game tonight that I might have to start an Occupy Terry Murray campaign. We all just sit In his office until he leaves for good.

  9. Here’s a quote from Jamie Langenbrunner of the Blues on the coaching change…check out the last sentence.

    “Saying it didn’t work out’s a little unfair to Davis and what’s gone on so far,” said winger Jamie Langenbrunner, who played for Hitchcock in Dallas. “I think we’ve shown glimpses of what’s possible. I think (Payne’s) done a fantastic job considering the circumstances. I don’t think this was opening the schedule that anyone envied and we got through it a game below .500. Not exactly where we wanted to be, but we’re not far off. That’s the message being sent in here. … Just being close isn’t good enough and that’s fine.”

  10. I always feel that Murray is just basing the whole system on what Dustin Brown does. He is the “King’ of shooting for the hell of it, or the “shot mentality”.

  11. Scribe’
    Awsome article. I started trying to explain something simular over on the insider since yesterday, and before the game had posted something simular, but with percentages that I had figured out for where San Jose scores from in an attempt to stress where the Kings should concentrate their defense. Too bad the Kings didn’t read it.

    I do look at scoring chances too more than anything else while watching games, and rate how dangerous they are compared to how dangerous the Kings scoring chances are. I also count attempts though, not just shots on goal (sometimes the best chances don’t even result with a shot on goal, because of a block, or a miss, but the chance is usually the result of a major breakdown somewhere, and the chance may still be an extremely glorious one. So I see them as worth being kept track of too).

    That’s the problem with keeping track, because everyone has different definitions of what they actually consider good scoring chances. I like what you did here though, Very cool.

  12. Part of these SCZ issues stem from their passing/cycle. I think they need to spend time practicing just ripping quick passes off to each other without first phoning in for a probability analysis for every pass they make. When you watch them set up the guy with the puck looks at the net, decides whether or not there’s room to shoot, then casually looks around the ice to see who he can pass to, then he takes a few steps and someone else does, then he looks at that person who managed to give themselves 2 feet of space so they’re open enough to receive a pass… rinse and repeat.

    By the time anyone ever does anything on the cycle the other team has had eons to adapt to what little movement they’ve made. There is no urgency in movement that is necessary to get into the SCZ. It’s like Murray is stressing the dangers of a lateral pass into the slot might get turned over. Well, yeah, a lot of times it could be a risky pass but hopefully if you’re quick about it and don’t hesitate you can get something through and generate a good chance. It’s better than playing hot potato until you get locked out and turn over the puck anyway or throw a garbage shot the other team can instantly pick up.

  13. Actually the point which I attempted to make two days ago — tighten this area to the hash marks and the Kings look even worse; The Oiler scoring chance ratio increases from 3:1 to 4:1. Whats important is to filter the power plays and breakways to get a true picture of general play in the D zone…

    Other teams picnic in front of Quick…he’s even better then given credit for.

  14. Wonderful article! Now please send this FedEx overnight to Lombardi, because apparently he doesn’t know this either.

  15. You know, Terry Murray must understand this. After all, he is the one who was so adamant about Home Plate mentality and protecting this area with his five defensive players.

    Why is it that he can only see it from a Defensive point of view? It is obvious that your offensive players must be trying to score from this home plate area too, right?

    Or does he believe so much in the ability of the defense to stop chances in this area that he has catered his offense to try and occur outside this zone?

    Maybe that is the issue. Discuss!

  16. Bobby, you’ve got to be kidding me! I live back east so have only seen one game in person at Staples. Was sitting behind the net the Kings attack and in only one game – 7-4 loss to Philly, I saw exactly what you’ve been saying here.

    This is a drag. Plain and simple. It’s important in life to give evidence. You’ve just done it.

  17. “We may have invented it”? How can you not know that some hockey fans have tracked this for years? Copper and Blue tracked the Kings scoring chances from February on last season. It was linked on several Kings message boards and blogs.

    Here’s a link to their diagram, identical to yours.

    It’s good to spread this to more fans and teams, but it’s been around for quite a while.

  18. One more thing:

    “The NHL does not officially track scoring chances.”

    Scoring chances are tracked (you can see the Fox Sports West broadcast put them up on occasion), but they do not publish them after the game.

    • Scoring chances are tracked (you can see the Fox Sports West broadcast put them up on occasion), but they do not publish them after the game.

      … You just gave me a great idea. Thank you kindly.

    • But therein lies the subjectivity of it. My stat is designed more to determine where shots are coming from (an almost completely objective stat) and, specifically, are they coming from the scoring zone. I am seeing a pattern that the far majority of goals come from within that SCZ which is not at all surprising. It is what we see with our eyes every game. If you break down Murray’s offensive system to its most fundamental basic premise of shots from the point and then look at where most goals come from, you realize that Terry is clueless.

  19. Shots are one thing. I would bet that Murray would also want traffic in front to screen, redirect or pick up a rebound. A weak shot from a bad angle in itself does nothing and is essentially a turnover, but you add a body or two in front and it often becomes a scoring chance. Many teams are good at cycling, and holding on to the puck, getting too fancy and never getting the puck to the net. In the games I have watched this year the Kings have not had much of a presence in front of the net. There are times, but not enough.

  20. Thanks for the article. In general, it’s been easy to say that the offensive philosophy Murray has been using hasn;t ben effective, but your analysis of the scoring chances puts it all into sharper focus.

    The real frustration is that we have the size, talent, and skill to score goals, but I believe these talented players are hamstrung by the coaching method. I even suspect that much of the problem with players like Penner and Parse (aside from the latter’s injuries) can be laid on the offensive strategy the team is using.

    Consider that when the team isn’t focusing on Murray’s offensive startegies, but rather just playing their defensive game, Quick gets shutouts and we win games–albeit with 1 or 2 goals. When the attention shifts to offense, we actually score the same number of goals but also give up more.

    Bottom line is that Murray is a great defensive coach, but not so good on the other end ofthe rink.

  21. Rob,

    “The real frustration is that we have the size, talent, and skill to score goals, but I believe these talented players are hamstrung by the coaching method.”

    I just dont think thats true. The Kings have one of the best top sixes in terms of two-way forwards, in terms of defense. And thats why I believe people confuse them for being a great offensive unit. The top 6 is so respected, we all know they are good forwards, so people think they should be producing lots of goals. The problem is goal scoring is not why they are respected or considered good forwards. Its defense. This top 6 will help the Kings be a good team defensively, but there is no firepower whatsoever.

    Lets analyze. Top 6 is Gagne – Kopitar – Williams, Penner – Mike Richards – Brown.

    Gagne is way passed his prime. Hes not even a 30 goal scorer. If youre not a 30 goal scorer, you shouldnt be on a contending team’s top line. He is not a top line winger. He struggled to even be a good 2nd line winger for the Lightning last season. Gagne on the top line is immediately a weakness for the Kings against other contending teams who have the likes of Hossa, Zetterberg, Franzen, Kane, Sharp, Havlat, Marleau, Clowe, Couture, Ovechkin, Semin on their top (or even 2nd) lines.

    Kopitar is an elite two-way top line center, and would never be considered anything but a strength. However, even he historically has not been quite in the top tier offensively. Hes more of a playmaker than a goalscorer, he doesnt score 40, never more than 35, only 27 last year. The top center on the Kings scored 27, Logan Couture on the Sharks last season, like their 3rd best center, scored more than that. Wonder why LA cant score and SJ can? Thats the gist. That said Kopitar is great, if they had 6 of him they would be golden. Im just pointing out hes not good enough alone to make the Kings a good offensive team, and his wingers are a huge problem.

    Justin Williams. God love him, not a top line player. He had 57 points last season as the Kings 2nd best forward. Joe Pavelski, playing all season on the Sharks 3rd line, had more. Thats a problem. Justin Williams is a top line forward. Hes a very good 2nd line forward.

    So, of the 3 top line forwards the Kings have, 2 already arent good enough for them to be a good team offensively. The offensive talent just isnt there on that top line.

    Second line.

    Dustin Penner. One dimensional power forward. He has the physical gifts but his hockey sense sucks, and hockey sense is so important, much more important than it even was a few seasons ago. Thats probably why he used to produce more. He is nowhere near good enough even for the second line. Compare him to the Sharks 2nd line left winger Ryane Clowe. Clowe not only has the same physical gifts, and is even better at protecting the puck, but hes a much better passer, has a better shot, hits way more, is much more engaged, has way better hockey sense. Penenr isnt good enough.

    Mike Richards. Mike Richards is finally good enough for where he is playing and more. He is perfectly slotted. He makes his teammates better. Still, for how good he is, he doesnt score enough. 23 goals last season, on pace for 20 this season. He is more a playmaker than a goal scorer, same as Kopitar and even Williams. Someone has to score the goals! Who?

    Dustin Brown is a good, physical two-way forward who is good but not close to great offensively. He is an acceptable 2nd line winger, but not elite. Martin Havlat and Ryane Clowe are SJs 2nd line wingers, both are much better than him. Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa both play on the Chicago 2nd line alternating and both are much better.

    Ultimately, the Kings only have 2 of their top 6 forwards that compare to what the elite western conference teams have, and even those 2 are both playmakers, not goal scorers. In fact, the Kings do not have a single forward who scored 35 or more goals last season in their lineup. no one they have even scored 30 last year!

    Big, big, big, big red flag. How are you supposed to be a top offensive team without top goalscorers? The Canucks had two 40 goal scorers last season.
    The Sharks had a 37 and 32, and then a bunch of people very capable of 30 who just didnt hit it last season in Heatley, Clowe, Setoguchi, Thornton, Pavelski.

    The Blackhawks had 2 and Hossa was on pace for over 30 had he not gotten injured. And this was their cup hangover year.

    Its not even about the stats because sometimes players arent getting the powerplay time and stuff like that. The top offensive teams in this league have forwards who are known strictly for being absolutely elite offensive weapons. The Penguins have Crosby and Malkin as their top 2 centers. Their version of Anze Kopitar, the two-way guy, is playing on their 3rd line, Jordan Staal. Im not saying hes as good as Anze Kopitar but hes their version. Now they have James Neal who is a great goal scorer too. The Washington Capitals have Ovechkin and Semin. These arent two way guys, these arent playmakers, these are elite, superskilled, russian goalscorers. The Ducks lack the depth to be an elite offensive team consistently, but they have Perry, Ryan, and Selanne, all three of whom would be the best goalscorer on the Kings. And the Ducks are still not a good offensive team, so what does that tell you? If the Ducks cant be a top offensive team with those guys (not to mention Getzlaf), how are the Kings going to be with Simon Gagne instead of Bobby Ryan, and Justin Williams instead of Corey Perry?

    The Lightning who made to the eastern conference final had St Louis and Stamkos both over 30, Stamkos at 45.

    Even Calgary had a 40 goal scorer. The Flyers had two.

    So you get the picture. The Kings top 6 pretty much sucks for offense. Their strength was always their two way play, complete players. But in terms of pure offense, if the Kings are going to be an elite offensive team, I mean they need A LOT.

    2 top line snipers would probably do it. This is why although Kings fans always make fun of the Kovalchuk deal, I sort of caution them. They really, really needed him, and Mike Richards is no Kovalchuk. Thats a good thing in many ways, but not all ways. They need a sniper and theyre so hard to find. The real problem is Dean Lombardi has never drafted a single one in LA. Hes been here for years, he should have drafted at least one top sniper by now. The team is suffering now that he hasnt.


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