It’s well known that upon his arrival, Terry Murray put in a defense-first mindset. In his first training-camp practice, he had dots spray-painted on the ice, directly in front of the goal, and told players that was the area that needed to protect at all costs. So, that’s been the mindset for three years. It hasn’t changed, nor (fundamentally) has the system, but the results have. The Kings ranked 27th in goals per game in Murray’s first season, then went to ninth, then 25th, and now they’re 30th. So, after practice today, Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Murray took their swings at the unceasing “system’’ question.
KOPITAR: “Are we the most offensive (minded) team in the league? Probably not. Are we the most defensive team? I don’t know. Tampa is sitting back quite a bit. Minnesota is sitting back. Anaheim, last night, they were playing 1-4 (trap) right off the get-go. I guess that’s where the game is going, a little bit. It’s more conservative. Neutral-zone forecheck, that’s what it is. Everybody is pulling back. I guess the Devils played that just before the lockout, and everybody was getting on them about how everybody played the trap, and now it seems like everybody is doing it.’’
DOUGHTY: “I definitely think that we have more a defensive system, so they’re right on that part, but at the same time (coaches) are really pushing things on offense, and it’s really up to us. We’re all in the NHL for a reason, because we have the capability to make plays and do certain things. All of our offensive (minded) guys need to pick it up and find a way to create chances. I think we’ve done a lot better lately, but we still have a lot of room for improvement, and we’ve got to do that.’’
MURRAY: “Actually, we’re more aggressive on our forecheck this year than what we were last year. We’re really demanding our second support man to come with a lot more speed from the back of the net. We anticipated it, from what we saw at the end of the year last year, when a lot of teams started to go more defensive through the middle of the ice, at their own blue line. So we loosened up that second forechecker to get in faster, to help support and recover pucks. We’re getting our share of pucks in the offensive zone. The one thing we did a little bit better last night, and it’s starting to come, is we moved our feet, with possession of the puck, to create some time and create some space for passing lanes. That was better last night, and we’ve got to continue to push it.’’