With a blank slate, the Kings focused on repeating the second half’s success on the penalty kick

Through six games last season, the Los Angeles Kings finished 31st in the National Hockey League in terms of penalty kicks, having conceded seven goals from their first six games of the season. The October 7-3 loss in St. Louis saw the Blues score four powerful goals in one game, and after a four-game road trip the Kings sat with barely more than 50 per cent on penalty kicks, setting a difficult obstacle ahead. back from.

By the end of December, the Kings had risen to 27th in the league. By the end of the season, they sat on twenty-two. While he was far from perfect in penalty shootouts last season, the Kings have certainly improved as the year has gone by. 22 of the 32 teams aren’t a total you print on the front page of season ticket brochures, but a nearly 10-point rise after a disastrous start isn’t a terrible sign of progress either.

“I know everyone is looking at the standings and they’re doing well, they’re 31st and what’s interesting for me last year is we got off to a bad start and when you’re tapped to four in one game it’s hard to recover,” said Kings assistant coach Trent Yaouni. “No one has written that they jumped from 31st to 22nd at the end of the year and that’s impressive, it’s their credit. It doesn’t happen all the time.”

Defenseman Mickey Anderson talked about the importance of clips and how the team tries to break things down according to certain parts of the season.

When you give up as many power-playing goals as the Kings did at the start of last season, you basically start behind the eight ball from the start. Without an exceptional recovery, you’re unlikely to get past this kind of start to the season completely.

At a minimum, it’s a project that could take months to really get back to. Seeing how things fall apart over 10 or 20 segments of the game helps teams keep things in perspective in the meantime, rather than a broader perspective. Smaller passages allow for an honest assessment of how the team is in recent memory, both positively and negatively.

“We looked at segments, you take 20 games and look at your performance as one unit,” Anderson explained. “Obviously that one match ruined everything we had, but if you book it into different parts we get a good penalty sometimes over the course of the remaining year. As far as a whole number, there are ups and downs, peaks and valleys. She tries to analyze Your performance level is in 10 or 20 game segments and kind of goes from there.”

Another factor to consider when evaluating the Kings penalty kicks last season is the fact that the team ranked third in the NHL in short goals, resulting in a net kill percentage that ranked the team higher in the standings. Over the final three months of the season, the Kings were in the top 10 in net kills, reflecting goals shorted as well as penalties taken.

Now, short goals are not the primary focus of the death penalty unit, but perhaps a result of doing other things well. The Kings are very fast in this unit and when opportunities arise, they are not looking to hold back.

“Honestly, the short cuts are like the cherry on top, that’s not really the norm,” said Trevor Moore, who led the Kings in short cuts last season. “Yannon has been preaching for the past two years that we want to be aggressive and we want to chase pucks and make it difficult for their team. Short goals are a product of that, so I think his structure gives you chances but keeping the puck out of the net is the most important.”

Yawney was sure to stress that the basic instruction given is not necessarily scoring goals while shorting, but at the same time, he emphasizes aggressive play. Moore noted that players are free to take advantage of the opportunity if it exists, but it’s not the primary goal of the system either.

Aggressive play can go in two different ways. It applies to murder itself, something Yawney encourages. In the times of last season, he felt the Kings were very passive in taking the penalty kick, and those were usually the times when they got burned. Aggressive play can also come in the form of brief opportunities and these are the moments that can change the game.

“If you take the last year, I [remember] Yaoni said of the shortened goals. “We got a little bit a couple of times thinking we had a chance to score it ended up in the back of our net, so you don’t want to train them to attack them on penalties but remind them that killing the penalty is the priority and anything after that is a bonus. Stay aggressive. , that’s kind of our word, just to stay aggressive when the opportunity presents itself whether it’s on the kill side or the defensive side or we get an offensive opportunity to take advantage of it.”

With the Kings back at it this season with the start of training camp, they have a few things that will lead to a better start than last year.

For starters, the staff is almost identical to last season. Unit turnover was going into last season and it took a while to get it all together. With all of last season’s injuries, there was a lot of mixing and matching throughout the season as well.

Early in camp, when groups are larger, the focus on snow should be on a larger scale and the focus is on private teams mostly through video work, meetings, and system revamping. Having some consistency with employees, and a larger group that remembers the system, is a step in the right direction.

“Everyone is pretty much back, so we have an idea of ​​what we want to do,” Anderson said. “It’s kind of just going into the room again, talking about it and watching the video, but until you go through it and kill some penalties, you try to go back to it and then find the right ways to do it. I think connecting and trying to reprocess everything we’ve been talking about in the last couple of years is key. “.

This does not mean that the units we saw last season will be exactly the units we see this season.

Pre-season is a time to experiment and a time to try things out as they can come during the regular season. It’s a chance to see how players who may not have killed on penalties last season behave in these roles. Show games, which don’t carry the downsides of undo points, are the perfect time to implement this.

“We’re hoping to find some new players, guys that you probably wouldn’t think would be a penalty shootout,” Yaoni added. “You put them in situations and they take advantage of an opportunity and when you don’t wear a full lineup, you have that option. Todd tried to work with some different players, who were here last year but weren’t really hired. [on the PK] In the case of the game. “These show games provide that and it’s good to see how you react in training versus the game because it’s different.”

As we approach opening night in 10 days, the Kings’ goal was to start fast with a penalty kick. Seeing a boost at the start of the season can do wonders for the team from an overall point of view. The Kings want to be more like the team that took penalty shootouts during the second half of the season (11 in Net PK) versus the first half (26 in net PK).

“We dug ourselves a hole last year and it took us close to the whole season to try and get out of it. Our numbers weren’t really where we wanted them to be, so I think our goal is to start really well with penalties,” said striker Blake Liszot. Very much by that and I think boosting our numbers by at least two percentage points is a good goal.”

This coming week, we’ll be doing a similar exercise in regards to the power game, focusing on a fresh outlook after a tough season. Over the past week, we’ve spoken with additional members of the Kings coaching staff, including goalkeeper coach Bill Ranford and new assistant coach Jim Heller, to dive deeper into their positioning groups and special teams responsibilities. This content will stream to the site here on training days during the last week of camp!

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