Frozen Royalty: For Kings, Black Friday Has A Totally Different Meaning
KingsCast may have taken a technology break this holiday but Gann Matsuda of Frozen Royalty did not. Here’s his latest article on the Los Angeles Kings recent slump with quotes galore. Enjoy the read!
EL SEGUNDO, CA — When Terry Murray was hired as head coach of the Los Angeles Kings on July 17, 2008, his highest priority was to teach his young team how to play defense, something that seemed like a foreign concept to the Kings in the seasons just prior to his arrival.
Two years later, Murray’s mostly young charges had improved their defensive zone play in dramatic fashion by emphasizing coverage of the “home plate” area in front of their own net. That new focus, along with improved goaltending, resulted in a dramatically reduced number of shots against, far fewer quality scoring chances by opponents and, as a result, a lot less pucks ending up in their net.
That focus was on point to start the 2010-11 season, one that saw the Kings jump out to a 12-3-0 start. But their defensive focus went by the wayside in mid-November, and the Kings have been in a deep slump ever since, losing five of their last six games while allowing one glorious scoring chance after another and giving up goals in bunches.
“We got away from our little home plate attitude, and it’s been costing us,” said right wing Wayne Simmonds. “We’ve got to fix that quick.”
Indeed, on November 26, while many were running around town or surfing the World Wide Web in search of Black Friday bargains, the last thing the Kings had on their minds was bargain hunting. Instead, they were hard at work at their practice facility, studying video and working on their defensive zone coverage.
“It’s real tough to say, for me, since I’ve only been here for a couple of days, but just from the Montreal game [on November 24], it’s just battling a little bit harder—we went over a lot of video this morning,” said defenseman Alec Martinez, who was recalled from the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League (Kings’ primary minor league affiliate) on November 23.
“The systems are good,” added Martinez. “We’ve just got to get that little extra push, finish when we have our opportunities, take care of the puck, and just settle down and make plays in our own end.”
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