Will "tremendous" play soon start translating into goals?
Throughout the early part of this season, coach Terry Murray has had high praise for his second line of Dustin Brown, Teddy Purcell and Jarret Stoll, but that line’s offensive numbers have yet to match its coach’s enthusiasm.
Brown, Purcell and Stoll have combined for two goals (both from Purcell) and nine assists, compared to the 10 goals and 15 assists generated by the first line and the five goals and six assists generated by the third line.
Secondary scoring figured to be an important part of the Kings’ success or failure before the season, but Murray said he’s not concerned about a lack of production.
"Not yet," Murray said. "We want to see production. They’ve come up with a couple of huge goals so far this year, but their whole attitude is in the right direction. They’re doing the right stuff, with putting pucks to the net, and traffic."
In particular, Murray had high praise for left wing Teddy Purcell, who had difficulty sticking in the NHL last season because of coaches’ perception that he didn’t play enough of a tough, gritty game. That, according to Murray, has changed dramatically.
"He’s tremendous," Murray said. "He is so smart. He makes so many good plays and reads and he’s playing the right way. He was in on the forecheck, he got the puck stopped up because of taking a hit, and again, that’s critical on the forecheck. That allows your second man to get in and give support and battle for the puck.
"I really like what Teddy is doing. He has grown tremendously from last year."
AHEAD OF THE CURVE
Drew Doughty scored on a rocket slap shot against the Islanders on Monday. Give an assist, also, to Doughty for choosing a new curve on his stick this season.
During the summer, Doughty, dissatisfied with the height and velocity of his shot, increased the curve on his stick blade and got what he was looking for.
"I kind of thought that, last year, my shot was kind of slacking," Doughty said. "I really didn’t know what it was, whether it was my strength or the curve of the stick. I didn’t really know what it was, so I just changed it up and it’s been working. I think my shots are a lot better this year."
"It was a pretty dramatic change. I guess it’s more of a forward’s curve. At first it was a little hard to make good passes. I was trying to get used to that in the summer, and once I did, from there my shot just felt like it was under control. Now my shot is harder and more accurate."
SAME OLD RED WINGS?
It’s been an uncharacteristic start to the season for the Detroit Red Wings, last season’s Stanley Cup finalists, who have lost three of their first five games.
The Red Wings are without Johan Franzen, who has a torn ACL in his left knee, and tonight also might be without outstanding two-way forward Pavel Datsyuk, who is questionable with an undisclosed upper-body injury.
Still, Murray chuckled today when it was suggested to him that the Red Wings might be struggling, and said he paid little attention to Detroit’s recent results.
"It’s a total respect of them being a great team over the last decade," Murray said. "You can’t look past that, because it will come back to bite you. You’ve got to come with the right attitude to play against this team, and not get into situations where you’re turning the puck over and making wrong decisions with the puck. It’s the Detroit Red Wings’ culture. They have established that. They’re a great organization, a great team.
"It seems to me that they’ve made a lot of changes over the years, and every one of those players has come in and played the right way. We’re not going to approach this any different because of a change in personnel, due to injury or due to free-agent signings or whatever. They demand that kind of respect."