It didn’t take much of a prompt for Terry Murray to go off on the importance of faceoffs after a rather uneventful morning skate at the Kings’ practice facility Thursday morning.
Some of this will make my notebook in tomorrow’s editions, some of it won’t. But it’s worth noting that this was the coach’s response to a question about whether he talked about faceoffs with the players after Game 3, in which the Sharks went 39-25 on draws:
“It’s more than talk. This is huge. This is a big, big thing. They’re a very good faceoff team. they do put pucks to the net, and arrive quickly to try to get a faceoff. That is part of the strategy: They’ll come across the center red line with a lot of speed, and take a long shot to the net in hopes that maybe there might be a fumble, there might be a loose puck you have to freeze with a guy like Setoguchi, who comes with a lot of speed. Vancouver does that to get more faceoffs.
“And what also now comes into play here, is that we need to be better in the faceoff circle, not only in the win aspect – clean wins, which is a hard thing – but you’ve got to be on your toes with your defensemen, you’ve got to be on your toes with your forwards that’s coming in to pick up some loose pucks that are lying around, but the other thing we need to be better at is our center ice men have to have more patience. We’ve got to get our sticks down second at home, we have to wait until they’re in position. I think we’re a little too eager to get in there right away and put our stick down first and now they’re coming over top. When you get in second, you have the advantage. We need to show that read, make a better decision as a group of center ice men to come in later, make sure that they’re set, and give yourself the edge. That’s all you need, is a little bit of an edge in some situations. Now we can’t overreact.
“We got thrown out of the faceoff circle seven times last night. It cost us on that first goal, where Richardson got thrown out. He was just a little too eager. He’s got to relax, show composure – now we have to put Clifford in there because Williams can’t take the faceoff. So we lost it and it’s in our net.
“That’s our own fault. We have to clean that up. We have to have a greater level of composure coming in as the four center ice men to get the job done the right way and don’t overreact. Don’t put the pressure on the referee, on the linesman, to have to make a decision as to who’s in and who’s out.”