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!