Kings will keep lineup the same, hope for different outcome on power play
After considering a change that would have put Jake Muzzin in the lineup for Monday’s game at Ottawa and removed Peter Harrold, Kings Coach Terry Murray said Monday that he will keep the same lineup he used in the team’s 4-3 shootout victory at Boston on Saturday.
His reasons for considering the switch were related to reviving the power play, which is one for 20 over the last four games.
“Obviously, throw it around and talk about it quite a bit, but at the end of the day, we decided to go with what we have,” Murray said. “[The] power play to me can be simplified and you can have success. When things go off page on the power play you’re looking to make too many cute plays, too many fancy passes, seam passes, attacking from low too many times. You’ve got to simplify it, get it back up top and simply get the puck to the net from your blue line crew.
“I know we’ve talked about that often and that was the meeting again today. You’ve got to get it to the umbrella [formation] and create some screens, create some loose pucks. You start to shoot the puck, the penalty killers have to turn around, they have to face their own goaltender, they have to find pucks, and you have the same opportunity now to recover and get second and third opportunities. That’s where we have to get to.”
Defenseman Drew Doughty, who drew about half a dozen reporters to his locker -- he’s usually the focus of attention when the Kings visit Canada because of his standout play in Canada’s gold-medal triumph at the Vancouver Olympics -- promised that things will get going on the Kings’ power play very soon.
“They’re going to start getting going tonight, I think,” he said. “They’d better, not ‘I think.’ We worked on it there at the end of practice for a little bit, just moving the puck around, getting some shots on net and that’s one of our keys: We need to get more pucks to the net and recover loose pucks, get on those rebounds and put those in the empty cage.
“Tonight, that’s our No. 1 focus.”
On defense: Rob Scuderi-Doughty; Jack Johnson-Matt Greene; Davis Drewiske-Peter Harrold.
Murray also said he will stick with his plan of starting Jonathan Bernier Wednesday in Montreal, Bernier’s hometown. After Quick’s exceptional 38-save effort in the Kings’ victory at Boston on Saturday, Murray said he might revise the goaltending plan he drew up before the season to avoid overworking Quick again. “It’s getting close to that,” he said Saturday.
He left that possibility open Monday.
“I would like to see Quick end up around the high 50s, maybe 60 games over the course of the year. That’s the plan,” he said. “Do plans change? Sure they do. Maybe there’s more at the end of the day. But most importantly is that we have both goaltenders fresh and ready to go as we get to the critical part of the year. Which is every game, but right at the last quarter of the season and hopefully we’re in playoff contention and have a goaltender ready to go.”
Speaking of goaltending, Senators Coach Cory Clouston said he will start Pascal Leclaire against the Kings instead of Brian Elliott, who has taken over the No. 1 spot. Leclaire is win-less in six games this season and has a 3.95 goals-against average and .872 save percentage. But his career record against the Kings is 2-0-1, including a shutout, all from his days with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was traded from Columbus to Ottawa in March 2009.
The Senators, still reeling from the recent death of assistant coach Luke Richardson’s 14-year-old daughter, have lost three straight games and four of their last five.
“Last week was a very difficult week for us,” Clouston said. “We’re looking at this as a fresh start.”
He mixed up his lines, invoking the cliché “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” as his reasoning. “It’s definitely broke,” said Clouston, whose team has scored only eight goals in its last five games and ranks 27th in the NHL with a team goals-against average of 3.24.
The lines figure to be Chris Kelly-Jason Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson; Milan Michalek-Peter Regin-Alexei Kovalev; Nick Foligno-Mike Fisher-Ryan Shannon, and Jarkko Ruutu-Jesse Winchester-Chris Neil. The defense pairs should be Chris Phillips-Sergei Gonchar; Filip Kuba-David Hale, and Matt Carkner-Chris Campoli.
More later at www.latimes.com/sports.
-- Helene Elliott in Ottawa
Photo: Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin. Credit: Harry How / Getty Images