There might be “lies, damn lies and statistics,” but sometimes the numbers don’t lie. After Ryan Smyth suffered his upper-body injury, the Kings went 6-for-49 on the power play in their 15 games without Smyth. In the seven games since Smyth’s return, the Kings are 8-for-26 on the power play, and Smyth has four of those goals.
So while Terry Murray has said, of late, that he doesn’t attribute too much of the power-play success to any one person, it’s clear that Smyth’s impact is huge, particularly with the way Smyth parks himself in front of the net for tip-ins and rebounds. Here’s what Murray said today about Smyth’s impact on the power play, followed by Smyth’s thoughts…
MURRAY: “I think he contributes in several different areas on the power play. His composure with the puck. He can handle the 1-on-1 battles down low, to absorb some punishment and still have the composure to make some plays. Certainly his net presence is a big part of the reason he’s out there. He’s got hand-eye coordination that’s second to none in the league, in my opinion, and that doesn’t come naturally. He worked very hard at it, throughout his whole career. Then just the experience of being in that situation many times. He reads, he reacts, he gets into position to give outs, little give-and-go plays. He knows when support is needed, when another player is under stress. So he’s a very valuable player, and he comes through for us most times.”
Here’s what Smyth said today, when asked about the power play’s recent success…
Question: In your mind, what has been the cause of their recent success on the power play?
SMYTH: “I think the big thing is, we’re moving around crisply, we’re getting pucks to the point and we’re getting shots. When you get shots, you establish that, and you’re going to be able to make different plays, because it opens up a lot more. We’re hounding the puck when we get in there, and we’re retrieving pucks, which is so important to start a power play. Obviously, winning faceoffs is a key, then retrieving it and getting shots. We’re doing all of that, together, as a unit.”
Question: Some penalty-kill units are more aggressive than others. Do you adjust your style to how aggressive the penalty kill is, or do you just try to dictate things with the way you play?
SMYTH: “With the technology nowadays, with the video and stuff, the coaches have it layed out for us, a good game plan for what we can do better against certain teams. I believe that in any special-teams play, you’ve got to dictate it. You have to dictate the pace yourself, as a unit, and you’re going to get more chances that way. Even if you don’t score, you’re going to get momentum off of that for the other guys too.”
Question: Most of your power-play goals are scored from short range. Handzus plays a similar role on the power play. Having someone in front like that, how important is it to a power play?
SMYTH: “Obviously, I have established that for a long time, and I know Zeus is in on that too. I think it’s important to know that that’s where the puck usually ends up, so if you want to score, you have to get the puck to the net but you also have to be there and work for the rebounds and tips. For the most part, I think the key is moving around, and then getting shots.”