Los Angeles Kings v New Jersey Devils - Game One

How can the Devils fix their “embarrassing” power play?


It’s no secret that New Jersey has been awful with the man advantage recently. The Devils have gone 3-for-29 dating back to the Rangers series (10.3 percent) and are 0-for-6 in the Stanley Cup finals (Ilya Kovalchuk called the power play “embarrassing.”)

So, what can they do to fix it? Here are a few ideas gleaned from the Devils themselves.

Figure out a way to keep possession

One of the best ways to score goals on the power play is to have possession of the puck (PHT, your home for in-depth hockey analysis.) Against the Rangers and Flyers, New Jersey faced far less aggressive PKs than what they’re seeing with L.A. — the Kings are aggressive in attacking puck carriers once they enter the zone.

“These guys, as opposed to the other guys we played, they hold the blue line better when they’re coming into the zone,” said Devils captain Zach Parise. “We find we have to dump it a little bit more, whereas against the Rangers and Flyers, we could skate it in. They definitely make it tougher to get into the zone.”

It’s not a lack of chances, it’s a lack of converting them

Whether he was protecting his players or not willing to criticize the unit any further, DeBoer was optimistic during Monday’s pregame presser.

“I look at our chances, we had a grade A chance in Game 1 against L.A.,” DeBoer said. “Zajac in the slot. A couple other opportunities, Kovalchuk had a real good look. Elias had a breakaway, didn’t go in. One of those, two of those go in, they’re different games, and we’re not talking about it.”

Nice theory, but the coach has to be concerned with the fact his team has just five power play shots through two games.

Speaking of shots…

Get more shots on Quick

The Devils did a much better job putting pucks on Quick in Game 2 (33) than they did in Game 1 (17), but that didn’t translate to the man advantage, where they only had three shots in four opportunities.

“I think we can take some more shots,” Parise said. “It’s a lot of perimeter passing.”

In New Jersey’s defense, the Kings appeared to ratchet up the shot blocking from Game 1 to Game 2. In the series opener the Kings recorded just six blocks; in Game 2, they had 19.

Kings grab goalie insurance by signing Budaj

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Jhonas Enroth #1 and Peter Budaj #31 of the Los Angeles Kings stretch before a game against the Arizona Coyotes at STAPLES Center on September 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
via Los Angeles Kings
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In slightly less interesting Los Angeles Kings news than the latest in the Mike Richards fiasco, the team handed Peter Budaj a one-year, two-way deal on Friday.

The veteran goalie’s contract pays $575K on the NHL level and $100K in the AHL (though it’s $150K guaranteed), according to Hockey’s Cap.

At the moment, it sounds like Budaj will be third on the Kings’ goalie depth chart. That says as much about how things have been going lately for Los Angeles than Budaj’s work on a PTO.

As noted above, one of the more significant moves in Budaj’s favor came when the New York Islanders claimed Jean-Francois Berube off of waivers this week.

The Kings actually waived Budaj before signing him, so this has to be a relief to a goalie with a fairly robust resume as a backup.

All apologies to Budaj, but it’s probably true that the Kings would prefer not to see him at the NHL level very often in 2015-16.

Kings, NHLPA announce settlement in Richards grievance

Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers

The Los Angeles Kings announced today that they have “reached an agreement with Mike Richards to resolve the grievance filed in relation to the termination of his NHL Standard Players Contract. The terms are agreeable to all parties.”

The club said that it will not be commenting further “on the terms” of the settlement.

The NHLPA released a similar statement.

It was reported earlier in the week that a settlement was close to being reached; however, it wasn’t clear what salary-cap penalties the Kings would incur.

We’re starting to find out some details now:

How the final numbers differ from what the Kings would have incurred if they’d bought Richards out will be interesting to see. And if there are differences, how will they be justified?

Stay tuned.