On the draw

Here’s one thing we know about tonight’s game: at least one team will have to win at least 50 percent of the faceoffs, and that will be news… The Kings enter the game with the NHL’s worst faceoff percentage (40.7) but the Blues aren’t far ahead. St. Louis is 27th, at 43.2 percent. The Kings’ struggles are hard to figure, since they won draws at a 52-percent clip last season and return their top three centers. Here’s what Terry Murray said this morning about the faceoffs…

MURRAY: “Well, we have paid quite a bit of attention to it, absolutely. It was a very important part of the game for us last year. We were talking, as a staff, the other day about the importance of winning faceoffs, especially on your PK, how that starts it off by winning and clearing it right away. It’s got to get better. We’re talking about it on the bench. We’re talking about it between periods. There’s an awareness to it. The center icemen, that’s their No. 1 thought when they’re out there, is, `Hey, I’ve got to win this faceoff and get things going in the right direction for us.’

“We do practice it. We spend extra time out there with the guys working with each other. I’m hoping now that we’re starting to get in the rhythm of the games and start playing some road games here, that we’ll get even more of a focus on getting prepared for each one of them.”

Murray was also asked how much responsibility there is for the wingers and defensemen to help out the centers on the draws…

MURRAY: “There’s got to be help. If you’re losing clean, like it looks like we’re doing quite often now, let’s just get to 50-50 and create a scrum. Get your wingers and D-men jumping through and helping to win those loose-puck battles. That’s the start point. Tie the other guy’s stick up. That’s something that we’ve talked about. It’s a change that you have to go into mentally as a center iceman. Last year the success rate was great. Now they need to give that a little bit of a push. Most importantly, let’s not lose it clean. That makes it real hard.”

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