On Thursday the Kings practiced an interesting end zone drill that was “sort of a spin of a forecheck drill,” as it was described by Darryl Sutter.
In the drill, the team used either no defensemen or one defenseman in transitions into the offensive zone, leading to some bizarre odd-man rushes that greatly challenged the two goalies. Three-on-zeroes aren’t exactly easy to stop.
“It’s just tough because you don’t have your own players to read off of,” Jonathan Quick said. “In a game, there would be situations where they would definitely shoot, but like in that drill, they were passing it two or three times, so it kind of wears on you a little bit.”
During a practice in which the goalies didn’t always stand much of a chance, a question was raised whether the drill was partly in response to Quick’s performance on Wednesday, in which he stopped 23 of 27 shots and was disrupted by a forechecking Patrick Marleau who got in between Quick and center Mike Richards, disrupting a hand-off behind the net and leading to Matt Nieto’s tap-in.
It wasn’t. The drill was meant to get the players more frequently into “finish situations” while helping to get them “to be a little quicker going up the ice,” as Sutter explained. It’s not a regular drill that the team practices, but it’s one that they’ll occasionally use with a pair of defenders.
“I think that was the first time I had seen it,” Quick said. “Like, power plays, there are set plays you’re working on. That’s more they’re just making plays, so it’s tougher to read. It’s definitely not one of the easier drills for a goalie, it’s kind of difficult. Obviously we did it for quite a long time, so it really gets the legs after a little bit.”
As for the goal scored by Nieto in last night’s game, Quick described how he communicates with defensemen and centers when bodies converge on the same spot.
“Well, when it’s me playing the puck, they’re the ones talking,” he said. “When they’re playing the puck, I’m the one trying to help them out. So it kind of goes back and forth. Like, there are times if I make a read that I think’s the right read, I’ll make that play before hearing anything from my D-man or the center or whoever. It’s just kind of a team effort in that sense.”