Jack Johnson’s “Something Different” & Offensive Zone Options

Our friend, The Mayor, gave us the following from Jack Johnson after the 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild. I have said that Justin Williams is the one player I want to interview. His history tells me he is a candid player and would stay away from the same tired clichés. Jack Johnson would have been my second choice. His interviews have led me to believe he is not shy about expressing his opinions and providing his perspective. That is why I was pleased to see The Mayor post this.

On his two points – “We don’t score very much, so nobody is going to be racking up a lot of points. But, the point is, we’re not scoring at all. So, it’s hard. We only scored two goals again tonight. You’re not going to win many hockey games only scoring two goals.”

On seeing Anze Kopitar laying on the ice – “He’s a tough guy. We all believed he would get up and get back in the game. We’re all pretty positive with that stuff. He’s a big, strong guy, so we were pretty confident he was going to get back in the game.”

On what he saw from the Kings following the hit – “Everyone was working hard to try and score one on that five-minute power play. We wanted to score one for him. Nobody’s out there not trying. (It was) another case of us only scoring two goals. It’s not enough to win in this league.”

On the meeting in the room immediately following the game – “It’s pretty obvious this isn’t good enough to win. It’s not a lack of effort. Everyone here wants to do well. Everyone wants to win. But, we have to do something different here, in this room as players, to find a way to win hockey games.”

From Jack’s perspective, the L.A. Kings are not a team that will score many goals, scoring two goals per game won’t result in many victories, it’s not an issue of effort or desire and Jack believes something “different” is necessary to find a way to win. What is “different”? I don’t know for certain what Jack intended but I can guess.

Stop sending the puck low to high on nearly every possession entry. Read the play. If the point is open and the defense has collapsed, get it up, make the lateral D to D pass and fire away – F1 to D1, to D2 with the F2 firmly planted in front of the net and the F3 hovering around the hashmarks, ready for a long rebound.

If the defense is playing high, there will be seams for lateral passes and one timers. If I completely disregard Terry Murray and assume he plays no role in the L.A. Kings’ offense, then it becomes a simple case of the players not enslaving themselves to one set play that dominates their offensive zone time.

1. Cycle, 2. Set up behind the net, 3. Protect the puck down low to buy time while players get open (I know, I know, a novel concept except to teams that score more than 2 goals per game). In other words, infuse some creativity and therefore options into the offensive attack.

After all, what is the goal of offensive zone time? To create scoring opportunities. It is not to play defense nor to plan for a turnover, break out and counter attack. The players, Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty especially, primarily (read 90% +) shoot through traffic (I know you are itching to proclaim “but that is the system!”. Don’t go there because we are ignoring Terry Murray here). Wouldn’t it be nice if, while Jack or Drew have the puck, our forwards were working to get open and separating themselves from the checkers rather than crowding the slot and defenders (what I grew up learning as the concept of “checking yourself”) or hanging out at the perimeter? I am looking at you Anze and Justin.

There is also the issue of deception. We have some pretty damn good stick handlers in Simon Gagne and Justin Williams. How about a little deception boys? Fake shots or look off the defending player, thereby making them freeze (because they “bite” on the first move and turn in that direction) – the puck carrying forward (with the puck on his forehand side and by his hip) can then skate by the defender or one of our defensemen can jump in the scoring zone (below the top of the circle) and POW, a pass for a one timer. How would you like to see Jack or Drew unleashing a one timer from just below the top of the circle at the center of the offensive zone? God help the goaltender.

And where are the plays from behind the net? I know that was Ryan Smyth’s place until he asked for a trade because he was “homesick” (wink, wink, Ryan), but am I really supposed to believe Gagne, Williams, Kopitar or Penner can’t handle this duty? Do you realize how many offensive zone plays are available from behind the net? I should write a Hockey 2.0 article about it – that and the forecheck.

Add these to the low to high plays that are designed to stretch the offensive zone (Murray’s bread and butter…and bacon…and sauce, drink and dessert).

Get it? The talent is there. Exercise the options boys and the scoring will increase. Top 10 in offense, here we come. GO KINGS!



Categories: L.A. Kings News

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32 replies

  1. I was wondering about that quote too, but where was the follow up question(s)?

    Most of the LA Kings media feels like a propaganda campaign.

  2. Good stuff Bobby! How long until the players become disgruntled? Guys as competitive as these guys have got to be upset by Murray’s system. Also, any word on Richards return? Thanks

  3. NHL network just called the Kings the biggest disappointment in the West.

    Called Drew Doughty the biggest disappointment.

  4. Thanks Bobby! I have stopped reading Hammonds blog. It’s possible that I am banned anyway! He is pissed at me for comparing his blog to “Iranian State Run Radio”. Nothing but propaganda! I just saw a tweet that the Kings waived Moreau! is that true?

  5. FROLOV, HANDZUS, but either Terry or Dean didn’t see it being worthwhile to keep both players.

    Horrible player management, horrible in the respect of burying a player on the 3rd or 4th line when they are or were that guy who could hold on to the puck, which would allow the players to come down and setup.

    I know this is a dead horse, but Lombardi can talk to his coach, and tell him he needs to make some adjustments.

    Lombardi could have also spoken to his coach about Frolov! I’m sorry your leading scorer is religated to the 3rd or 4th line because Terry seems to punish a player who he feels might not be giving enough.

    If I was getting buried like Frolov, I’d be pissed also, but since it was clear that Murray seems to not let things go, like the girl who lost her boyfriend to her best friend, it was already over for Fro.

  6. Your breakdown of puck movement, either low to high, laterally, etc. I’ve been saying this for years on the various forums. I totally agree with what you have written. LA’s offense fails to score more as the result two things.

    First, other teams know exactly what will happen when LA has the puck. They shift their D coverage to the strong side, pinch the boards and the D1. Doing so causes/forces LA into rushed situations with the puck, either by the F1 or D1. Watch how many turnovers are made by these two guys for LA. As much as Murray looks to run this team on a turnover-transition mentality, this exact system is being used more efficiently against his team.

    Second, the ‘point shot’ in todays NHL especially in 5×5 situations is NOT an effective means to score. It hasn’t been for years. Every team in the league is looking to clog the strong side and block shots. Taking point shots, especially repeatedly, has such a low chance of success these days it’s almost pointless to employ. Yeah some will get through and score, yeah some will create some rebound situations. At the same time there are just as many blocked rebounds into the neutral zone, or missing that rings back around the weakside boards. Even worse is the loss of possession.

    This whole ‘shot mentality’ thing has completely gone overboard. Yes I agree with the statement of people such as Gretzky and other. “You don’t score on 100% of the shots you don’t take.” So far I haven’t seen anyone ask Wayne or other ‘experts’ is “what happens in today’s game when you turn over the puck”.

    Today’s NHL has changed to a puck possession style of game. Don’t believe me then explain why teams covet PMD’s, why LA just signed DD on his 2nd contract to a ridiculous contract. Explain why players such as Kopi, the Sedins, Datsyuk, hell even Jagr at his age are highly coveted. It’s because they can take over a game, dictate the flow of the game and prohibit an opponent the chance to even get shots – let alone goals.

    By maintaining puck possession you lessen the opportunity of your opponent. The old saying “the best defense, is a good offense” is just as important if not more meaningful today than the shot mentality saying. I still amazed the NHL doesn’t put more into tracking this stat the way say the NFL does. Obviously its easier to judge possession in football, but the result is the same. If your opponent doesn’t have the puck they can’t score.

    The game as a whole changed forever when the old Soviet teams came over and schooled the NHL. The game changed with the Soviet and European players coming to North America. They brought skill-sets that emphasized this possession mentality and style of play. To continue to think the old school style of dump-chase to point shot is going to succeed is just dumb. Players and teams can just as quickly take this away by simply not letting you touch the puck.

    Back to point shots and shot mentality and tieing it into puck possession. One of LA’s issues imo is the fact they simply just give the puck back to their opponent, thus giving them a chance to score. There are to many turnovers and blocked shots that end up becoming a possible offensive chance for the other team.

    Mix up what they are doing when it comes to shots, player movement, passes. Not shooting isn’t a bad thing. Maintain possession in the offensive zone, wear down the opponent, force them into mistakes that will lead to either a goal or a penalty. When the fourth line plumbers are out there cycling and cause this everyone is happy. So why not the #1 to #3 units? Don’t just shoot for the sake of shooting because you’ve had the puck in the zone for 20, 30 40 seconds. Wait for the other team to make a mistake. Don’t force it.

    • Richardson, Clifford and Simmonds/Westgarth. Last year’s playoffs. EFFECTIVE. Maybe 2 shots/shift, all theirs. Drew penalties. Killed the clock on SJ lines 1 & 2, forced them to sit in frustration. Real momentum/crowd killers.

    • I don’t believe the point shot and stretching the defense is as useless as you state but other than that, bravo. Great post. Hope to see more of your comments.

      • Mixed into, as you previously said, a more varied, diversified attack. One of multiple options being worked on a given possession. It will always have its place.

      • The point shot has it’s place definitely. I’m not saying to abandon it completely. I am a firm believer in stretching out the opposing D at all times. The breakdowns are how you score these days, because all teams play some type of D first mentality. Everybody clogs up the slot to some degree. Stretching them out whether it’s from a low-high pass, or a lateral cross ice is how you do it. Good effective puck possession teams read the other team and individual defenders and use their momentum/positioning against them.

  7. “It’s pretty obvious this isn’t good enough to win. It’s not a lack of effort. Everyone here wants to do well. Everyone wants to win. But, we have to do something different here, in this room as players, to find a way to win hockey games.”

    Sounds like Jack is calling out the coach-he is point blank saying the team needs to try and do something different….the question here is-Will TM even attempt to do anything different other than drawing names from a hat for next games lines?

    Quite frankly- I can not ever recall TM ever doing anything different system wise from his first season and would not be surprised at all if this is the same system he used at Florida, Philly, and Washington.

    Lest we forget Phoenix and their roster full of cast offs and washed up players is leading the Pacific.

    • A lot of coaches juggle lines. TM’s problem is he flat out mishandles players (akin to goalies) especially younger ones. This Moreau and Hunter obsession (one of whom is now gone) hasn’t helped his cause.

    • Sounds like Jack is calling out the coach-he is point blank saying the team needs to try and do something different

      … Maybe he meant by doing something different that the team needs to execute better? Begin the period with a solid shift instead of being back on their heels or in a hole from the get-go? Consistently break out of the zone well instead of doing it well every once in a great while? Clear the zone when they have time to do so, instead of rushing it and turning the puck over?

      Lest we forget Phoenix and their roster full of cast offs and washed up players is leading the Pacific.

      … Phoenix has scored four more goals than they’ve allowed. They are mediocre. They might get lucky and continue to lead the division for a little while longer, but this won’t last.

      And Yandle, Hanzal, Korpikoski, Boedker, Ekman-Larsson are definitely not cast-offs nor washed up. Vrbata is 30. Whitney seems to defy age, and so does Doan.

  8. “make the lateral D to D pass and fire away – F1 to D1, to D2″

    True enough but this requires three things.

    Knowing if you passing to a left or right shooter and for some reason the Kings seem to lose track…

    A stick to stick to stick, wheel house pass is required…King’s passing has not been sharp.

    Third, shoot without hesitating. Another failing. Teams know the Kings go F1-D1 for the shot so the defense is usually pressured by forwards up high. If Kopitar left the boards the high forward would collapse.

    • Wait.

      They don’t lose track. They don’t look for it. These guys are professional hockey players and the forwards have been taught to score goals, make passes, make plays all of their life. Now, they are looking for primarily one play. Of course that is going to cause hesitation. Try to teach yourself to piss while standing sideways to the toilet and see how many times you turn and hit the shower glass.

      Kings passing is fine. These aren’t chumps in the top 6. Their passing seems off in the O zone because they are forcing it.

      I am scowling at you on your third point. Have you really persuaded yourself of this?

      • “Try to teach yourself to piss while standing sideways to the toilet and see how many times you turn and hit the shower glass.”

        classic….

  9. Honestly, the players should just say fuck it, they are being handcuffed by this chip and chase, rear naked choke BS. You can focus on your defensive structure, while at the same time being creative offensively. Stop being so concerned about not being scored on, and open up the counter attack.

    From now on, you are going to carry the puck into the zone, have the D activate high, use the half boards, have a man deep, force the defense to come out, make them work.

    Make a smart pass, don’t try to force it, get a forward near the net, create motion, use the man down low when you can. If you have the man down low, use him, you create options. When you have an open shot take it HIT THE NET. Force the goalie to make a save one or two things can happen a rebound, or a freeze. If there is a rebound try to capitalize .If the puck is frozen, faceoff in their zone.

    Try a slap pass for a change.

    The D needs to avoid playing or passing the puck through the middle of the ice. Use the boards to get the puck out. The boards are your friend. This also applies to the forwards when back on defense.

    Try something different, be creative, use your skills.

    Stop being boring and predictable.

    Repeat the above.

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