If the Los Angeles Kings want to maintain more consistency offensively, it sounds like they may take a page out of the playbook of the team that beat them 4-1 Saturday afternoon.
"We'll get together on Monday before practice," Head Coach Terry Murray said. "We'll talk as much about Detroit as we will about our game, and try to highlight, again, the fact that you've got to get into position, you've got to put pucks to the net, and start hanging around the blue paint and good things can happen for you."
As part of a football Saturday afternoon in the fall, Time of Possession references were surely warranted during large chunks of the first two periods where much of the play took place in the Los Angeles zone as the Red Wings forechecked effectively and maintained pressure throughout, outshooting the Kings 30-15 through 40 minutes and 38-24 overall.
"The breakouts, again, we brought a lot of those problems on ourselves," Murray said. "We started going back behind our net three or four times. You start going D-to-D and turning back and bringing it back the second time, you're actually screwing everybody up. The forwards think it's going here, now they've got to stop and go back to the other side. It becomes a stop and start game from the middle of the ice to the boards, and that's too hard. Impossible to play that way."
This isn't a dire moment for the Kings by any stretch. Their offense had scored five goals in two of the past three games, all wins. With the defensive depth available and one of the league's emerging workhorse young goaltenders, the team has certainly carved out its tough-to-play-against identity while exuding confidence and character.
But if that elusive leap is to be accomplished, they're going to have to eventually build on potential turning points throughout the season such as the opportunity to extend a three-game winning streak that included victories on back-to-back nights over their closest rivals.
They're also going to need to play to one of their strengths -- getting their mobile defensemen more opportunities to fire off shots with some space.
"I think guys are trying to pound it every chance we can," defenseman Matt Greene said. "I think we've got guys back there that like shooting the puck, that do a good job of it too. I think guys are trying to pound it."
There's no doubting that. With Slava Voynov's emergence as a shifty young defenseman armed with a heavy shot and primed for power play success, there are some real offensive weapons as part of an active defensive unit. The importance now is to get these players moving and let them have enough room to get shots off with some space.
"You get the puck on the blueline today, and everybody's in those shot lanes, you have to move yourself or you're going to have to pop out forward and move it down to the half board and attack from the seam," Murray said. "To me, the guys that we have on the blueline that, you know, talking with Jack, or talking about Jack and Doughty, and Voynov, those players have good agility. They just have to get in to better lanes themselves by moving their feet, either pushing or pulling the puck. You're just looking to get six, eight inches away from that player that's in the lane, and get it through. I think we're standing still right now."
When the Kings get back to work in St. Louis and Dallas next Tuesday and Wednesday, they'll be looking to sustain that same type of possession and pressure demonstrated by Detroit on Saturday night.
"We need a day off, we've had two big games against Anaheim, so we'll take tomorrow off and we'll regroup back at practice on Monday and hit the road," Murray said.
NOTES: With shorthanded goals in consecutive games, Mike Richards became the first King to accomplish that feat since Ziggy Palffy did so against Columbus and Colorado on March 29 and 31, 2001... Anze Kopitar earned his first career penalty shot in the second period. His backhand was denied by Jimmy Howard's glove save... Kopitar took six of the Los Angeles' 24 shots... Pavel Datsyuk doubled his previous goal output on the season. He now has four goals and 13 points in 18 games.