Before returning to San Jose for Game 2, the Kings practiced at Toyota Sports Center for the second consecutive day and expressed a desire to reduce the number of quality chances and odd-man rushes the Sharks were able to generate.
Part of the odd-man breaks came as the result of the Kings looking to “stretch it out,” when trailing by three goals, as Darryl Sutter said yesterday, though the Kings spoke on Saturday about the need to work as tighter units in transition, and Anze Kopitar characterized what was emphasized during Saturday’s practice as “moving the puck, make crisp plays, get the legs going.”
“Just don’t get spread out too much,” Kopitar said of the adjustments necessary to minimize turnovers. “The support has got to be there coming up the ice. If we don’t do that, obviously we get spread out too much. The long plays are harder to make than the 10-foot passes. I think in Game 1, our line got spread out a little too much. We got caught swinging away instead of just supporting. So we’ve been working on that the last couple days a little bit and we have to carry that into the game tomorrow.”
Dustin Brown also referenced the five-man units as essential to the team’s success in retaining the puck and executing its sound possession game.
“I don’t think as a group, line to line, we were really good at spacing and moving,” he said. “When we were well spaced out, that’s when we were in their zone. That’s a result of working back for each other. Wingers working back for D, D working back quickly to the puck and coming up together. Having that support because there were a couple opportunities, couple chances, situations, where D doesn’t have much of a play and vice versa with the wingers. Wingers don’t have any option because they’re getting covered over and there is no support. So the closer we are together as a group, line to line, partner to partner, that goes a long way in wanting to come out of our zone properly.”
Dwight King, on adjustments and neutral zone play: