December 26, 2010 12:45 pm

Kings need to get off the blocks

Tonight’s game will be the second of six meetings this season between the Kings and Ducks. This morning, the Ducks called up rookie forward Matt Beleskey from Syracuse of the AHL. Last time these teams met, the Ducks sent the Kings to their lowest point of the season. Anaheim’s 2-0 home victory on Nov. 29 marked the only time the Kings have been shut out this season, and it sent the Kings to their seventh defeat in their previous eight games. The Kings have gone 7-2-1 since then, but tonight’s game is big given that the Ducks are just one point behind the Kings in the standings. Here’s what Terry Murray said today about how the Kings can improve from the teams’ previous meeting…

MURRAY: “We played pretty good in that game. The thing that really stands out, that I remember, was the number of blocked shots they had. They were stepping up in front of our shots, and there were a lot of pucks that never found the net. We just have to be better with that. There are several ways of being better. Shooting the puck faster, getting it through, missing the first guy. That’s the responsibility of the defensemen up top, but the forwards also need to be better at releasing down low, to give that option as a pass down to the goal-line area, instead of a shot where they have five guys at home play. We can pass off and attack from the side or attack from underneath. That has to be more consistent from our forwards. That’s a read that you make in the pressure of the game, in the heavy going of the game, but we’ve got to find that more often.”

The Ducks were credited with 16 blocked shots in that game, while the Kings got 27 shots on goal. Murray was also asked, in general, what he wanted to see from his team in the first few minutes of the game, following the two-day holiday break…

MURRAY: “I want a nice, quick tempo, short shifts, changing at the right time. I want to see good puck movement, making the puck do the work for us, and decisions through the middle of the ice. I’ve been talking about that since the day I got here, and that has to be more firm. We’ve got to make harder plays, meaning that when you do decide to get the puck in behind, on a chip because there’s no other option, it has to get deep. So many times, we’re looking for that easy, soft chip, just to get in behind the defenseman who is standing at the blue line. It’s got to get to the goal line. Those pucks get knocked down 85 percent of the time and come right back at you. So, hard plays. Make them go back 200 feet, and then we play the game from there.”

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