The most surprising thing about the Kings’ first three games? Certainly the perfect penalty-killing unit, which is 14-for-14. Quite startling when you consider that the Kings finished with the worst penalty-kill percentage in the NHL last season. It was a point of emphasis for new coach Terry Murray from the start of training camp, and it seems to be paying off so far. Here’s what Murray said today about the PK unit…
Question: Three games don’t make a season, obviously, but you can’t be any better on the penalty kill than you’ve been. What have been the biggest improvements there?
MURRAY: “I’m very pleased with the competitiveness and the work. You always look at your penalty killing and you say, well, the best penalty killer on the ice is your goaltender. And (Jason LaBarbera) has been very good. But the structure is in place, and that’s where Mark (Hardy) was working hard with the penalty killers, right from the beginning. He has asked them to perform in certain ways in different areas of the ice, offensive zone and neutral zone, and I think everybody is starting to respond. I think there’s some good pressure on the puck, we’re jumping guys at the right time, reading the opportunity to be able to put pressure on the offensive players, and we’re creating turnovers because of it. When you have that kind of reaction from one guy, everybody else is jumping in and doing the same thing. They’re reading off each other, and that’s the key to having good penalty killing, in my mind. You have four guys there, five with the goalie, that really react to the opportunity. (It’s about) close support, five-foot and 10-foot support, to be able to make little hand-off plays and get the clears.”