Much of the Kings’ success over the past couple seasons has been built around a strong penalty-killing unit. The Kings ranked fourth in the NHL last season in penalty-kill percentage, and were expected to be at least as strong with the addition of players such as Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Ethan Moreau, to compensate for the loss of strong penalty-killer Michal Handzus. It was surprising, then, to see the Kings go through a stretch like they did this month, when they allowed 10 power-play goals in eight games. Things have turned back to the positive of late, though, as the Kings have gone 16-for-16 on the penalty kill in their last four games. I asked Terry Murray for his perspective on why things have improved of late.
MURRAY: “The difference is clearing the puck. That’s it. Structurally, system-wise, effort, intensity, blocking shots, everything has been, to me, on a pretty level playing field. When you evaluate that part of the game, the difference has been those loose pucks that we’re clearing from the zone now on a more consistent basis. You start giving power plays — with the best players on the ice — second and third opportunities to recover and make plays, they’re probably going to make you pay a price.’’