Three of many gripes during Terry Murray’s era were:
1. Low percentage shots coupled with Terry Murray’s antiquated “shot mentality.”
2. Not enough low shots on goal to create rebounds.
3. Not enough one timers from passes on the cross seam, low-release and from behind the goal line.
The Kings have broken away from the one-dimensional, low to high (stretch the defense) point shot mentality that pervaded Murray’s system as the “default” to nearly every zone entry. Of course, it still has a place in the offense and it can result in scoring chances (and it does, as we have seen) but we don’t see it as the “go to” on damn near every shift. I noticed this path away from the offensive system shortly after Sutter was hired and I am proud to say the team has finally broken itself of this offense killing habit. It took time. It should have taken time. Old habits do die-hard after all.
In the past three weeks of games, I have noticed the L.A. Kings progressively get more low shots on net. Jeff Carter is an ace at this and this is one of several reasons his presence is solely missed, despite Surly’s claims otherwise. Low shots create rebounds and rebounds create second chances and, therefore, those dirty goals you need every game around the crease. We still, as a team, have a ways to go here but it’s not coincidence that we are taking more low shots and, as a result, scoring more.
Last night, Slava Voynov’s game winning goal was a pass from Kopitar, below the goal line, that Voynov fired on a one-time slap shot and buried. Dubnyk, by his reaction, never saw the shot’s release.
In the first period, Kopitar tried a similar pass to Dustin Brown from behind the net (after he drove down the left wing and wide), which Dustin Brown one-timed and damn near scored but hit the post. Colin Fraser tried a back hand version of this to Jordan Nolan that may have went in if the Oilers’ defenseman didn’t get his stick in the way at the last moment. Dubnyk was out of position.
In the final 20 seconds of the 2nd period, while the L.A. Kings had the powerplay, Kopitar dished the puck to Williams who sent it from just above the goal line to Brown who cut in the middle and one-timed the shot but Dubnyk made an amazing head’s up save. Dustin Brown’s “FUUUU!” that ensued (lip-reading, though I don’t think he ever finished the word) and anger at not burying that shot said it all.
Dwight King’s goal came from a 2 on 1 and Mike Richards’ beautiful (though delayed) cross ice pass and a one timer.
The Kings have tried more cross seam passes and one time attempts as well as low-release passing plays Since January 1 that I have seen them attempt at any point during Murray’s tenure. Still though, we need more of it. It’s the catalyst to an effective and consistent offense.
I don’t know and cannot predict whether we’ll stay the course and continue to create more offensive opportunities by these substantively creative outlets that are the bread and butter of better offensive teams, but I am encouraged. You should be too.