The Kings, as has been well-chronicled, aren’t getting the puck in the net once they get it into the offensive zone. But does the problem start earlier than that? That’s what Darryl Sutter suggested today. Sutter indicated that a significant issue — as discussed after the St. Louis game — is the ability to make a good, accurate first pass and get the team moving through the neutral zone. Given the aggressiveness of forechecking, and the increased emphasis on neutral-zone play, making one or two good passes coming out of the defensive zone is critical, and Sutter said the Kings haven’t been doing enough of that, even with ample attention paid to it in practice.
SUTTER: “People talk about our forwards not scoring goals, but the biggest improvement we can make is our defensemen moving pucks. That’s the biggest improvement we can make, because you know they’re capable of it, when we’ve got the kids that we have. Quite honestly, Willie Mitchell is probably the guy who does it the best for us. That’s how much the game has changed. We have to get to that in order to be a batter offensive team. I know we talk about a lack of goal scoring, but I think we will score more — or, this team is capable of scoring more — if our defense would move the pucks quicker, get to them quicker, and move them more like the old hockey school, on the tape. Know what your options are. All those things. That’s what we’ve been trying to get them to do more of.
“We haven’t had a defensive practice once, where you’re working on 1-on-1s or 2-on-2s. We haven’t done it once. Just because we haven’t had to do it. There’s no reason to do it. What we’ve had to do is work on everything else, and continue to work on it. When we do it really well, we score three, four, five goals. When we don’t, then we’re just a hard-working team.’’