Kings' pregame: The powerless power play, and things looking up for Kopitar and Greene
A few notes from my chat with Coach Terry Murray before the Kings' game against San Jose:
Although the Kings took a 3-1-1 edge over the Sharks into the finale of the teams' season series, Murray said there was no formula for success against the Pacific division-leading Sharks.
"There are no secrets. It just comes down to really hard work," he said.
"You’ve got to get through the middle of the ice against this team. They have four guys back almost all of the time. If there are any plays coming off a transition,off a neutral-zone counter, again they just stay above it. They’re waiting at their own blue line. And that’s the time that they tease you. If you think you can do a little bit more than what’s available to you then they’re going to make sure they’re going to capitalize somehow coming back at you."
The Kings' leading scorer in their previous five games against San Jose was defenseman Drew Doughty, with a goal and eight points. Anze Kopitar was close behind, with threee goals and seven points.
Kopitar has recently climbed out of the funk that enveloped him while left wing Ryan Smyth was injured. Kopitar had two goals and four points in the four games he played before Tuesday, and Murray said he saw a lot of encouraging signs from the Slovenian center.
"A better mental approach to the game," Murray said. "I thought that whenever he was really rolling early in the season with that line until Smyth got hurt, they had a great attitude. It was, 'Attack, I’m going to challenge you in all situations.’ I think when the injury happened there seemed to be a little taking the foot off the gas pedal and now it’s more, ‘We’ve got to go back after it and make the other team defend against us.’ I’ve seen that here in the last couple of games and I like it.
"His body is big. He’s a strong guy and when he can get it cranked up and hold on and make plays, take it to the net, the little give-and-gos, he’s very hard to defend."
Murray also said he planned no changes for now on the power play, which was 0 for 16 over the previous three games. That included two substantial five-on-three advantages against Boston on Saturday.
"There have been notices sent out that we do need some results here and if they’re not going to find some results with the personnel there, then we will have to do something different," he said.
Finally, Murray said defensemen Matt Greene (lower body) and Davis Drewiske (upper body) underwent exams Tuesday afternoon and that while Drewiske isn't close to returning he expected "some pretty good news" on Greene's return.
"I’d like to whisper Thursday but he'll definitely be ready to go on the road trip. We’ll bring him with us," Murray said.
More later at www.latimes.com/sports