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Williams Addresses Offensive Woes

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings

EL SEGUNDO -- Justin Williams stood among adults Friday afternoon, surrounded by a semi-circle of reporters, but he still sought a way to offer a PG-rated assessment of the Kings’ recent goal-scoring efforts.

``Obviously last night was just -- let me think of a nice word -- it just simply wasn’t good enough offensively,’’ Williams said after an hour-long practice in El Segundo.

Williams could have used a few less-polite adjectives and phrases. The Kings, entering Friday’s games, were the third-worst scoring team in the NHL. Their average of 2.17 goals-against per game put them ahead of only Anaheim (2.00) and the New York Islanders (1.80).

On the flip side, as Williams also pointed out, the Kings are strong in goals against -- their 2.00 average ranks second in the league -- but for a team that started training camp with the stated goal of improving its offense, it’s been a bit of a baffling start.

Not surprisingly, from all corners of the locker room, there were different ideas about improvement.

Williams talked about involving the defensemen more. Coach Terry Murray talked about going to the net and scoring more ``greasy’’ goals. Mike Richards preached patience and the need to play a consistent game. All, in their own ways, expressed confidence that the
Kings could turn things around.

The Kings were in need of some confidence after Thursday’s 3-0 loss to Edmonton, in which they were shut out for the second time this season and recorded a season-low 19 shots on goal.

``It’s funny how, at some points in the season, the net looks like a soccer net and sometimes, when things aren’t going well, it looks like a mini-hockey net,’’ Richards said. ``We’ve just got to stick with it. It’s going to happen, games where the puck is just going to end up on your stick, and some games, like last night, where it’s just going to be that foot off. So it’s not a matter of changing anything. It’s just a matter of sticking with it, being positive, not gripping the stick too tight and just let it happen.’’

Major changes don’t appear to be on the horizon. Richards and Williams both stressed the need to execute the system in place, and the Kings didn’t make any changes to their lines in practice Friday.

Murray, however, said he hadn’t decided exactly what lineup he would use in Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh at STAPLES Center, but did say that Jonathan Quick would start in goal.

Murray said the Kings didn’t do a lot of video review Friday morning. Instead, Murray shared some opinions with the team about Thursday’s game, then sent them out to work.

Not surprisingly, most of the drills in practice were offense-flavored, and Murray even called for the ``Pit’’ drill, in which a net is pulled toward a corner of the ice and players battle in 2-on-2 drills.

``You can’t make it too complicated, and I don’t want to,’’ Murray said. ``You want to get the puck on the sticks of your best players as often as you can. You want to see possession. You want to see, if there’s a dump-in, a more consistent forecheck recovery of pucks, especially. That can get better.

``The other part is, we had 55 shots at the net last night. We end up with 19 on net. The opportunities are there. We need to be more diligent about getting pucks through to the net and more diligent at having a net presence in order to take the eyes away from these goaltenders who are the top guys in the league.’’

After Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh, the Kings have games Monday (at San Jose) and Tuesday (at home against Nashville). Murray said backup goalie Jonathan Bernier would likely start one of those games, although he had not yet decided which game.

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