Kings Coach Terry Murray juggles things, puts Teddy Purcell on top line
Terry Murray has juggled his line combinations again, putting newly promoted winger Teddy Purcell on the top line with Anze Kopitar and Patrick O'Sullivan and moving Kyle Calder to the second line with Jarret Stoll and Dustin Brown for tonight's game against St. Louis at Staples Center.
He also rearranged the defense pairs, putting Kyle Quincey with rookie Drew Doughty and placing veteran Sean O'Donnell alongside Matt Greene to reduce what became a heavier workload than O'Donnell could effectively handle. The third pair will be Denis Gauthier with Peter Harrold. Erik Ersberg is scheduled to start in goal.
Purcell was leading the Kings' Manchester, N.H., farm team in scoring with nine goals and 19 points in 23 games. He played 10 games for the Kings last season but didn't make the team out of training camp this season.
Murray said the changes up front are intended to coax some scoring out of a team that produced only 11 goals in its previous five games and 70 in its first 27 games, the lowest total in the Western Conference. The arrival of Purcell, projected to be a top-six forward, made this the right time to try some new configurations.
"I was thinking of making some changes in the line combinations and in the D pairs anyways," Murray said. "We just need to try to find a way to generate some more offense. ... Just looking through the numbers, I think there should be better numbers from our top two lines."
O'Donnell, 37, was averaging 21 minutes, 18 seconds of ice time per game while partnering with 19-year-old Doughty. Murray had come to realize that was too much -- and that Quincey, one of the most pleasant surprises for the Kings this season -- had earned a chance to play more minutes.
"I just see a difference from the first 15 games, when he was outstanding," Murray said of O'Donnell. "He's still making huge contributions, but there's some situations that have developed over the last few games that I know it's just a matter of having to dig down too deep night after night to get the job done. So this is gonna give him an opportunity to regroup."
Purcell acknowledged that he was upset to be sent to the American Hockey League but then took to heart the suggestions that he should battle harder and more consistently for loose pucks.
"I came with no gear, and I was a little bummed out about that," he said, "and then they tell me I'm playing with Sully and Kopi. You can't really get much better than that. It's a great opportunity for me.
"I've just got to get those guys the puck and get open because they both can make plays."
Derek Armstrong, hit hard into the boards during the Kings' 6-1 loss at Colorado on Tuesday, left this morning's skate early because he didn't feel right. He was scheduled to be examined by team doctors tonight.
"Stuff was happening a little bit too quickly for him out there, so err on the cautious side with that," Murray said, adding that he had not heard anything about the possibility of Armstrong having a concussion.
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: The Ducks' Ken Klee tries to block the Kings' Teddy Purcell from going after the puck in a game in October. Credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times