The back of the net
Over the span of 14 days, a “three-two league” has become a four-three league. As inconsistent as some of the team’s defensive returns have been, the offensive results at the end of the spectrum have been impressive by a greater degree.
In the month of March, the Kings and their opponents have combined for 56 goals in eight games. Los Angeles has outscored its opponents 29-27 over that span.
The power play has catalyzed the offense over the last 10 outings, a stretch in which the man advantage has averaged one goal per game as part of a 10-for-32 stretch since the 5-2 win over Anaheim.
I spoke with Justin Williams today about the team’s offense and the impressive power play output that didn’t show any signs of abating in Thursday night’s loss to San Jose. Williams has nine points – including three multi-point efforts – in eight games this month.
Justin Williams, on the power play chemistry:
“I think we’ve felt each other pretty well on the ice. We know where our outs are, and we’re talking a lot under pressure and turning a lot of pucks over and keeping a lot of pucks in the zone because we’re not letting them have any easy clears. I think Muzz and Slava have done a great job on the back end creating shots and being deceptive, and in turn, things are working. You need to keep at it. You can’t just say ‘Well, power play’s going good, forget about it.’ We’ve got to stick with it.”
Williams, on any constitutional differences between the two power play units:
“I mean, there’s different personnel. We’ve got a couple of different breakouts for each group, too. But for the most part, there’s no secret. It’s a good power play. It’s shots, traffic, puck pursuit and puck recovery. We’re doing those things well. At the same time, we can’t simply rely on our power play and say, ‘Well, you know, our power play will get us one.’ We need to keep at her five-on-five and be more successful in that aspect.”
Williams, on whether Dustin Brown’s game Thursday was his best performance of the season:
“I don’t know. You’ll have to ask Brownie that. But as a line, we’re a lot better when we’re not thinking out there, when we’re just reacting. We’re instinctual players, and when we’re acting on that instinct and not thinking so much, that’s when we’re successful. We’re a line that moves and thrives off of having the puck, and we’ve had it lately.”
Despite this surge, the top priority of this team is to reduce the amount of goals it allows. As Brown said after last night’s game, “At the end of the day, our goals against has got to come down. You look at why we were successful last year – we weren’t scoring a lot of goals, but we were winning games one-nothing and two-one. We’ve got to really tighten up our D-zone.”