Terry Murray on who he'd like to see step up ... and how playoff experience will help the Kings
Asked if he had in mind one player he would like to see become a factor in the seventh-seeded Kings' playoff series against the second-seeded San Jose Sharks and who might have to produce in order for the Kings to pull off an upset, Coach Terry Murray had an interesting answer: winger Alexei Ponikarovsky, who produced only five goals in 61 games this season.
"It’s always a team, it’s always going to be the team. There’s no question about that," he said after the team's practice in El Segundo. "But I think Ponikarovsky is a player that can really step up here in this kind of a series because of size, his strength, the fact that he hasn’t had a real good season.
"He comes in with a resume of having scored 20 goals over the last five, six, seven years. This is an opportunity to put this whole thing on this side and have this be viewed as a new opportunity for him to have an impact in this series using, again, his size and ability to play in those hard areas in front of the net, taking pucks to the net and have the confidence to know that he has scored in the past and this is now [his] time to do something on that part of it."
Murray also said that with most players having had the experience of participating in the playoffs last year, he expects more sureness from them this time around.
"I think just the compete side of the game, the gritty side of the game, is going to be an area that you look at," he said. "You go into the playoffs for the first time in the National Hockey League and it’s pretty physical. You can get pushed out or you can become tentative or hesitant in your game. But as you go through a series or two you start to understand that no one’s picking on you personally, it’s just that whole attitude of hard play.
"It’s a much more physical and mental demanding game, and now you start to play with a higher level of confidence, knowing that you’ve been there before, so you start off that way in the series.
"I’m looking for guys to play the right way, with composure, making good decisions, moving the puck and having possession of the puck and having it on your stick for longer periods of time than maybe what it was last year."
More later from San Jose at latimes.com/sports
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Los Angeles Kings head coach Terry Murray walks across the ice to the locker room after the second period against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion April 4, 2011. Credit: Jason O. Watson / US Presswire