Following up on yesterday’s post about rising expectations, the logical follow-up question, then, is, “How do the Kings improve?” Is it simply a matter of the young players getting more experience and improving their games, or will there need to be talent brought in from outside the organization? Almost certainly, there will, but Terry Murray was asked for his perspective…
MURRAY: “I can’t really go to the free agency and trades. That’s management upstairs. That’s something I’m sure we’ll have conversations about as we get going. From the locker-room side of things, it’s understanding the reasons for success and learning from the success and learning from the failure that we just went through, playing the first series here against Vancouver. You’ve got to learn from those failures, and understand the detail part of game. Every play matters, every detail, every clear, every time you pass up an opportunity to shoot the puck, it could be the winning goal. And how hard it is to get yourself ready. To me, just in the big picture, that’s the general picture that you need to take away and understand how important all these weeks and months of preparation are, to get yourself into the training camp and the hard work that goes on there, and then what you went through in the playoffs. There’s wonderful experiences there to draw from, and if we understand it as a group of guys, I think we can take the next step forward.”
As a follow-up, Murray was reminded about how he frequently talked, during the first-round series, about the Sedins being difference-makers in the playoffs, and how he cited them as the reason the Kings lost two third-period leads. Murray was asked whether he had enough of those type of players with the Kings.
MURRAY: “Those pieces are here. Those Sedins have been around. They’re now in the league 10 years. It’s pretty amazing. Time goes by very quickly. Those pieces are in place for the L.A. Kings. We’ve got premier players here. We’ve got guys who are going to be true stars in the National Hockey League. They’re going to become award-winning players in this league. So there are a lot of pieces in place, especially at the top end like that. They’re the difference-makers in a series, when it comes down to it. When you gather the experience out of this valuable set of games that we just went through, and really start to sort it all out and know what you have to do now, that it’s harder to get up there so you’re going to have to push everybody, push the team and push yourself, that’s when you take the next step.”
Finally, Murray was reminded how, this time last year, he stressed 5-on-5 scoring as the major thing the Kings needed to improve. Going into this offseason, what is the major point of improvement he would stress?
MURRAY: “I don’t want to go too far away from that 5-on-5 play. The offensive part of the game is real important. I think the big improvement in that area was something that was a highlight for me, as I told the players. But we’ve got to stay with that part of the game, also. The improvement there, again, is going to be very important. It ended up, at the end of the day, with shots for — compared to the rest of the league — we ended up still down near the bottom, in the bottom third. That attitude of shooting the puck, getting to the net and paying the price in front of the net, that is something you can never allow yourself to get away from, as a coach. That’s how you do become a better hockey club, by figuring out how to create and generate the offensive numbers.”