By any measure, this hasn’t been a good homestand for the Kings. They take a 2-4 record into tonight’s finale of the season-long, seven-game homestand before they head out for a five-game road trip, their longest remaining trip of the season. How big are a couple games? If the Kings had gone 4-2 in the last six games, instead of 2-4, they would be in fourth place in the Western Conference right now, instead of eighth.
Alas, that’s done. If Detroit beats Minnesota tonight, the Kings need at least one point to stay in eighth place. The Kings also have a chance to jump Calgary for seventh place, depending on the results of the Calgary-Chicago game. The Kings face Buffalo, which fell in a 4-0 hole the other night in Anaheim and lost 5-4. They will face goalie Ryan Miller, the Vezina Trophy favorite at this point in the season. Here’s what Terry Murray said about this homestand, and trying to end it on a high note…
MURRAY: “We wanted to win every game at home. When you look at your schedule, that’s something you really have to buy into and take advantage of. Tonight is going to be a hard game. They have a good team, a very offensive-minded hockey club and a great goaltender. So it’s not going to be easy to come by the offensive part of the game, but we need to be a lot more vigilant in our net presence, and digging in, and screening the goaltender.
“That was a concern after the San Jose game. Nabokov made some great stops. We had a lot of good looks, but on the original shot, we just need to get in the goaltender’s eyes a little better, maybe a whole lot better than what we have been recently. Certainly, on the power play, that’s critical, to have any kind of success on the power play, that you’re doing a good job in front of the goaltender.
“I think our shot mentality has got to improve and, as I mentioned, our net presence has got to be much better on the special teams. You’ve got to play goaltender, yourself, as a player in front of the net. Zeus is doing a great job of that. Smytty is pretty good at it, but on a consistent basis, that has to be there. Stay in the goaltender’s face. You’ve got to play goaltender, be a goaltender when you’re in front of the net.
“The other part of it, when we’ve scored a lot of our goals on the power play, is on second and third opportunities. Rebounds, taking it to the net hard, jamming pucks there and then paying a price in those dirty areas to look for the rebounds. Those second and third chances have not been there in the most recent games.”