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Shoot The Puck!

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
ST. LOUIS -- The well-worn quote, most attributed to Wayne Gretzky, is, ``You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take.'' The Kings could heed the words of their former star.

The Kings rank 21st in the NHL with an average of 29.0 shots on goal per game. In their last three games, the Kings have averaged only 24.0 shots on goal per game, and that statistic isn't sitting well with coach Terry Murray.

Before the season, the Kings put a particular emphasis on increasing 5-on-5 scoring, and their general shot mentality, but so far this season the Kings have failed to reach the 30-shot plateau in 25 of their 45 games.

Head Coach Terry Murray cited a lack of shots on goal as the reason for the Kings' loss to Dallas on Monday. 
Murray said that a lack of shot mentality cost the Kings on Monday in their 2-1 loss to Dallas. The Kings totaled only 14 shots, combined, in the second and third periods.

``There were not enough pucks going to the net, not enough offensive-zone time in order to get wins on the road,'' Murray said. ``We're putting a number up there, every game, as a goal that we've agreed upon. That's shots at the net. They don't actually have to be on net, and we're off that number considerably. It's a focal point every game. It's something we have to be much better at, just trusting our game.

``When you're playing against a team that is protecting the lead, like last night, the only way you break it down, that defensive structure, is to keep putting pucks to the net. You're going to get second and third opportunities, because they have to turn around, they have to try to recover. So now you've got a 50-50 chance of recovering and putting more pucks to the net. We haven't figured that out, here in the last few games.''

That lack of sustained offense extended to the power play as well.

The Kings went on the power play late in the first period and had decent pressure, with two shots on goal, but early in the second period, with a chance to tie the game, the Kings couldn't generate a shot on goal and had trouble even entering the offensive zone.

``We dump the puck in and we don't recover pucks,'' Murray said of the third-period power play. ``That's something with the power play, even though we haven't scored recently, we have recovered pucks much better than we did last night. We ended up turning it over and chasing the puck. That's what needs to happen on a more consistent basis, more of those puck recoveries, holding onto it, making plays.''

The Kings, facing the second of back-to-back games, elected to hold their meetings and off-ice workouts at Scottrade Center on Tuesday morning, but did not skate.

Afterward, Murray said Jonathan Quick would start in goal against the Blues. Jonathan Bernier started the two previous games, went 1-1 and allowed two goals in each game. Bernier stopped 25 of 27 shots in the loss to the Stars on Monday.

``I thought he was good,'' Murray said of Bernier. ``In the first period, he had some big stops, with three power plays.''

Wayne Simmonds, who suffered a lower-body injury in Saturday's game against Edmonton, will miss his second consecutive game tonight, but Murray sounded optimistic about Simmonds' chances of returning for Thursday's game against Phoenix.

Simmonds underwent an MRI exam on Monday, and it revealed no major issues.

``No tears, no breaks, no chips, no strains,'' Murray said. ``Everything is good. It's just a little bit of swelling, but he was feeling better yesterday and I'm sure he will be much better today. It's just a matter of treatment.''

The Kings took only one minor penalty in games against Toronto (on Jan. 10) and St. Louis (on Thursday), but in their last two games, the Kings have had to kill five opponents' power plays in each game.

The Kings went 5-for-5 on the kill against Edmonton on Saturday, and killed off their first three penalties Monday against Dallas but then allowed two second-period power-play goals.

Murray was not happy with the penalties, which included two delay-of-game calls for sending the puck over the glass from the defensive zone.

``That's the hard part, for me,'' Murray said. ``That was such a focal point in our meeting, in the pregame talk. We just didn't want to bring the referees into the game. You're on the road, it's an important game, and we didn't want to bring the referees into it. Then we got two over-the-glass (penalties), a hooking penalty, and that's just a play that you can't have.

``Play between the whistles really hard. We have to get away from that careless stuff. Three penalties for over glass, in the last two games, just is not right.''

It was a strange morning for Kyle Wellwood. Signed by the Blues as a free agent, after spending time in the KHL, Wellwood participated in the morning skate. As he was cooling down for the skate, word came from the NHL that Wellwood had been claimed off waivers by the San Jose Sharks and will not be able to play a game for the Blues.

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