Lombardi, Murray discuss power play
Question: When you look at a power play that struggled all season, what do you do about that?
LOMBARDI: “I agree. They [coaches] recognize that. It was so good two years ago. And this is not singling out the player, because I think he has become one of the most complete players in the game. If you ask the coaches, the biggest area of focus is getting our best player in situations — Kopitar, our number-one scorer — in situations where he can produce. Because if you look at it, his numbers in 5-on-5 are near the top of the league. His power play, compared to the top guys — five goals — is way down. If he has the average, in power play (goals), of the other top guys, he’s one of the top scorers in the league. … It’s almost like getting Kobe Bryant the ball here. Who do you want in scoring situations, particularly on the power play? It’s your best offensive player, so you’ve got to take a good look at that. The problem is, two years ago it was pretty good. So what happened here? It’s the same players. Doughty should be better. (Kopitar) should be better. If you look at the structure of it, you see, in fairness when you look at San Jose, there’s a skill issue. Now we’re back to what we tried to do at the trade deadline and we’re back to the same thing about building from the back end and what the next step is. So on the power play, on the personnel side, on the coaching side and on the players’ side, we’ve all got to look at ourselves. You see San Jose enter the zone with possession. There’s a level of skill there that I’ve got to help them get on the rink.
“I’ve got to look at the personnel. The coach has to look at how we get out best player out there in a productive role, and then the player has got to figure it out. So I think there’s an element of all three there. And it usually shows up in zone entry. It’s not just when you’re getting in the box. It’s when you’re gaining the zone with possession, versus having to dump it in and spend 20 seconds getting it back. That’s kind of telling you some things there. But we were still good enough getting in there, as we saw two years ago, and our top guy was in situations where he could be productive. So clearly, when you ask the coaches would could be better and what has to be better, the power play is going to be at the top of their list.”
Question: How much time will you spend this summer thinking about the power play?
MURRAY: “I don’t have to spend a whole lot more time than what I have already. It’s funny how it goes. Last year, we look at our power play and it was pretty good, and in this playoff it was pretty good, actually. Percentage-wise, it’s up above 20 percent. There’s a couple teams that always will be better, maybe in the high 20s or even 30 (percent), but in the special-team area, in this series, it was fine. But it needs to be better over the course of the year, on a consistent basis. It’s continually addressed and practiced. The young guys that are key players on that part of the game are going to have to find a way to execute better. We’re going to keep going with those guys. We believe in them. We believe in Doughty, and Johnson was huge at the start of the year on power-play production, point-wise, and had a drop-off in the second half. That’s going to have to be more consistent. But we’re very aware of the need to have a better special team on that power play.”