Do numbers deceive, or do eyes? The Kings rank 13th in the NHL on the power play — not great, but not awful either — and are 7 for 33 on the power play during this recent 3-5 slide. Yet the power play seems to be faltering at critical times in the game. Today I talked to Justin Williams to see if he agreed, and to see if he had any perspective on the issue…
Question: Overall, your power-play numbers haven’t been bad, but it seems as though in important situations, it’s not there. Do you have a sense of why that’s happening at certain times?
WILLIAMS: “If you score on one out of every five power plays, that’s pretty good. But yeah, there comes a crunch time when you need a power-play goal, and if you don’t get a power-play goal, you need to create a spark for your team. It either goes one way or the other. You either create a spark for your team or the penalty killers do their job and it gets their team jacked up. It’s not always necessarily scoring a goal. It’s creating a lift, and hopefully a momentum swing, for your team.
“Recently it hasn’t worked, obviously. We had a chance to go up, or get our team going, in the third period against Calgary. We faltered, and the worst thing happened. They scored a goal against us. Ultimately, that was the game-winning goal, and that lost it for us, but the worst part was, we didn’t create anything out of it.”
Question: It seems as though, in the last couple games in particular, you’re having trouble at times getting settled and set up in the offensive zone. How much of that is the killers and how much of it is you guys?
WILLIAMS: “It depends on the system that the team plays. Calgary plays a super-aggressive system. They play a system where it’s not the first two passes, it’s not the third pass, but it’s the fourth pass. You have to make four good passes to beat them. There’s not going to be a lot of offensive-zone time just holding the puck, because they’re going to make you move it. You score goals against that power-play unit by, move it around, move it around, and then eventually something will just open up. Whereas, more lax penalty kills will let you set up, let you hold the puck a little bit, let you work it around and try not to let you get to the net. So everything is different, but results are results. We needed to be better at that point in the game.”
Question: If you could estimate, how does that break down? How many teams play that pressure style?
WILLIAMS: “I would probably two-thirds of the league is pressure, pressure, pressure. Especially when ice conditions, especially late in periods, aren’t the greatest. It’s tough to make some good high-quality plays and sauce passes and that type of thing. It just needs to be simplified.”