Line 'em up: Kings to keep same lineup two games in a row
Kings Coach Terry Murray said he will use the same lines and defense pairs against Vancouver Friday night at Staples Center as he did in the team's 3-1 victory over Atlanta on Wednesday.
That means up front it will be Andrei Loktionov-Anze Kopitar-Dustin Brown; Ryan Smyth-Jarret Stoll-Justin Williams; Alexei Ponikarovsky-Michal Handzus-Wayne Simmonds, and Brad Richardson-Brayden Schenn-Kevin Westgarth. On defense, it will be Willie Mitchell-Drew Doughty; Rob Scuderi-Jack Johnson, and Jake Muzzin-Davis Drewiske.
Kopitar said he thought having Loktionov on the line “could have been better. But I guess it always can be better.
“He’s really not the biggest guy. He’s pretty slick, though, and he’s really good with the puck," Kopitar added. "So as soon as we build a little bit of chemistry we’re going to have a pretty good mix with skill and size with me and Brownie and Brownie hitting on the line.
"Sometimes you hit it off, right off the bat and sometimes it might take a few games just to get to know each other.”
That’s providing Murray, notorious for switching bodies around, keeps them where they are long enough to develop a connection. Kopitar hopes that’s the case.
“He’s a good player. He’s got really good vision. He’s working hard and for his size he’s not afraid to go anywhere in traffic. That’s one of the biggest things,” Kopitar said. “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it’s going to unfold and how long Terry’s going to keep us together.”
Murray Hoping to Keep Quick Fresher
Goaltender Jonathan Quick, scheduled to start against Vancouver Friday night, said he welcomed the chance to get a mental break last Sunday at Calgary when Jonathan Bernier started the second game of a back-to-back sequence. Last season, en route to a club-record 72 appearances Quick started the first five games, 17 of the first 18 and 29 of the first 31.
He wore out after the Olympic break, but Murray has promised to use Bernier more often this season than he used last season’s primary backup, Erik Ersberg.
“It was a tough back-to-back that we played,” Quick said. “Mentally and physically you get to relax a little bit. Even though you’re not playing you’re still preparing as if you’re going to play. For a goalie it’s an all-day thing. It’s a 7:30 game but you start preparing long before that. It can be taxing over the course of a year.”
Murray said he has charted the goalies’ starts through the end of December, though he wouldn’t share the specifics. He did say he wants to keep Bernier active.
“I want to get him in there every week,” Murray said. “We’ve got three in four days coming up again after this game so he’s going to stay in the net, stay active and keep his game on track and at the same time follow through with what I talked about at the end of the year with [Quick]. I want to keep him fresh as we get through the whole thing so those kinds of physical and mental breaks are going to be important for him.”
Defenseman Matt Greene, who has yet to play after undergoing shoulder surgery last summer, was given permission to leave the team to attend a friend’s funeral back home in Minnesota. Murray said he expected Greene to return Saturday and to get back onto the ice Sunday and Monday. He also said left wing Scott Parse still has “an issue” with his groin injury “It’s just going to take a little more time,” Murray said. “It’s a concern now. We’ll see how it goes through in the next week.”
Players on the Kings and Canucks will wear special helmet decals and other gear Friday night as part of Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night. Players also will use pink tape on their sticks during warmups. Some of those sticks will be auctioned off and the proceeds directed to cancer-fighting causes.