The Kings have scored five goals this season, and all but one of them have come from the trio of Ryan Smyth, Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams. On Tuesday, they formed a line that was widely accepted as being the Kings’ most effective against Atlanta. Smyth’s first goal came when Anze Kopitar was on the ice for a line change, but Stoll’s third-period game-winning goal came with the unit intact. Today, Terry Murray talked about why he felt that line had success — hint: it’s tied to one of Murray’s favorite terms, “net presence” — and gave his thoughts on Smyth, Stoll and Williams.
MURRAY: “It’s a message that’s been repeated for two years now, that net presence. We have to be better at that this year. So far, in three games, it’s not quite as consistent, but Stolly has been pretty good. The other part where he was very good last night was, when Smytty and Willy were working on a two-man cycle, he was in the right place. On the one shift, he probably ended up with three shots in the third period because of good positioning, finding that gray area on the insides of the circles. He led the way in both of those areas, establishing a net presence and a shooting mentality, finding the open ice.”
(on Williams’ strong game…)
MURRAY: “The reason, for me, is just the attitude that he’s really starting to get back to where he was before his injury last year. He’s skating very well. A strong game last night. He’s got that power back, that I thought was missing at the end of the year. He was confident with the puck, making plays down low, moving his feet with the puck on the cycle. When you can create a little bit of separation, good things can happen for good players. As an example, Jarret Stoll on a couple of those shots that were happening late in the third period. Those were because of good things that Williams was doing. I liked his game a lot. I liked the line. I complimented Smytty today on the ice. I thought his skating was real good, and he stayed on the puck. Often, when the puck goes in he swings away and has to come back. Last night he stayed on it. He was putting pressure on the puck all night long. Real good stuff.”