LOS ANGELES AND EL SEGUNDO, CA — As the Los Angeles Kings filed into their dressing room after their 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 of their second round playoff matchup on May 8, they knew exactly why they lost.
Sloppy puck management in their own zone led to turnovers, and wide gaps on breakouts, which led to poor passing, and eventually, great difficulty in generating a forecheck and quality scoring chances.
Kings center Mike Richards indicated that indeed, poor puck management created a cascade of other problems.
That brings to mind the old children’s song, ’Dem Dry Bones.
…The knee bone’s connected to your…thigh bone.
…The thigh bone’s connected to your…hip bone.
…and so on.
“We just turned too many pucks over in our own zone,” he said. “We weren’t moving the puck well enough to get out of our zone, which gave them a lot of zone time. When you do that, you don’t get a whole lot, offensively, because you’re spending all your energy playing in the defensive zone instead of going and playing in the other end.”
“We were loose on some of our passes,” he added. “We just weren’t moving the puck crisp enough.”
That kind of play extended all the way up the ice.
“We made some turnovers that cost us,” said forward Jeff Carter. “We were pretty sloppy in the neutral zone. We turned pucks over and gave them rushes the other way. That’s something we didn’t do in the first two games. We’ll have to clean that up. [We have to] be hard on pucks, make strong plays, and get pucks deep.”
“We were going back with the puck too much, bobbling pucks in the neutral zone—against a skilled team that likes to stretch it out—they got way too many odd-man rushes—that’s not our game, not our style,” said center Jarret Stoll. “We need to be better with the puck, and be sharp. [We need to] go through the neutral zone and get our forecheck going, spending time in the offensive zone. That’s what we’re lacking right now.”
“We weren’t good enough [in] a lot of areas, a lot of guys,” added Stoll.
Richards indicated that the Ducks forced the Kings into sloppy play, at times.
“We didn’t execute on [many] of our passes, especially in the second period,” Richards noted. “[But] give them credit. They played [well], defensively. They kept us to the outside, and we didn’t really get too many quality chances.”
The Kings held an optional skate on May 9, with only winger Jordan Nolan and backup goaltender Martin Jones joining a handful of minor league call-ups—Black Aces—on the ice.
The regulars spent their time reviewing what went wrong on video.
“We watched some video this morning, and learned from some things we weren’t doing right yesterday, and reinforced some things that we were [doing well],” said defenseman Alec Martinez. “We’ll focus on that, come back and hopefully, get a win tomorrow.”
“It’s just a little bit of attention to detail,” added Martinez. “We’ve got to do a better job on the neutral zone forecheck, and when we’re making plays in the neutral zone, getting pucks past the red line, into the [attacking] zone and getting in on the forecheck.”
“[We have to] clean up the neutral zone, and [play] sharper with and without the puck,” said center Anze Kopitar.
Although the Ducks have cut the Kings’ lead in the series in half, the Kings remain focused only on their own play.
“It’s one game,” said Richards. “We have to learn from it, get better, and match their desperation in the next game.”
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