Darryl Sutter answered questions over the fundamentals of shot blocking after practice on Friday, and for a good cause: Los Angeles opponents are doing an awfully good job at it.
Partly due to the absence of Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell, the Kings have been out-blocked in every game this season. Earlier this week, Vancouver out-blocked Los Angeles 20-9. Nashville – though they spent much of the game in their own zone – led that statistic, 24-8.
Colorado leads the league in both cumulative blocks (139) and a per-game shot blocking average (19.9). In the six games thus far in 2013, Kings opponents have combined to block an average of 19.5 shots per game, which would come out to the second highest per-game average in the league, had “Kings opponents” been an independent entity amongst the other NHL teams.
It will be a factor in tonight’s game as well, as Anaheim has three veterans with impressive shot blocking credentials: Francois Beauchemin, Tony Lydman and Bryan Allen.
Darryl Sutter, on how to avoid having shots blocked:
“Keep changing angles. Try and change angles, and let the puck do some more of the work. I mean, Nashville has three guys that block a lot of shots. It’s not like it’s something special against us or they go out of their way to do it. [Hal] Gill, [Shea] Weber and [Scott] Hannan are all really top guys in the league at it, so you know it’s no different than when we played Jersey in the playoffs last year. They block a lot of shots. You just kind of work around it.”
Sutter, on the nature of shot blocking in the current era:
“I think that players are taught now more to get into shooting lanes than they were in the past. I think there’s a lot more lanes from the goaltender to the shooter that are blocked than at any time. I know Tampa became great at it. The Rangers became great at it. And now, you have specialists. It’s way better. It’s at a premium for guys that do it.”