The more things change ... the more you know it's the Kings
Some interesting doings at the Kings’ morning skate.
There was news of the imminent trade for Boston left wing Marco Sturm, and Coach Terry Murray’s declaration that he would never trade rookie center Brayden Schenn -- followed a little later by news that Schenn will head back to the junior ranks on Friday. By the way, once Schenn rejoins his team -- Brandon of the Western Hockey League -- he can’t be called up by the Kings again this season.
Murray also made a few lineup changes for Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers. Defenseman Davis Drewiske, whose ice time has generally been declining, will sit out and his spot will be taken by Peter Harrold.
Murray, never hesitant to change his lines and defense pairings, also changed his lines around: The first line will be Dustin Brown on the left with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, with a second line of Ryan Smyth-Jarret Stoll-Trevor Lewis, a third line of Kyle Clifford-Michal Handzus-Wayne Simmonds and a fourth line of Brad Richardson-John Zeiler-Kevin Westgarth.
The line of Smyth, Stoll and Williams had been carrying the Kings for a while, and Williams shares the team lead in goals (nine) and leads the team in points, with 22. But Murray said he thought “the finish” wasn’t there for that trio anymore, prompting the changes. Williams had no points in his previous two games and no goals in his previous six; Stoll had no points in four games and one point in six games, and Smyth had one goal in his previous six.
“We’re looking to get offense. That’s always the holy grail that you’re looking for as a coach to get the chemistry and have balance in the offensive part of your game,” Murray said.
“I’m just trying to take a good piece from one place and put a good piece here and hopefully there’s some good chemistry that can develop and get that offense that we’re looking for.”
Stoll said no matter who’s on his line -- or anyone else’s -- their mission is clear.
“We’ve got to work hard and smart together. Maybe smart is probably the most important,” Stoll said. “That’s going to create chemistry. And communication. We’ve got to be better in that area of the game when breakdowns happen.
“I don’t think it’s really an issue right now what the lines are. We’ve just got to work smarter and harder and more together as a group instead of one line doing it for one period or two periods. We haven’t really put together too many stretches where we’ve played full games.”
Murray said he liked the fourth line’s effort in the team’s last game, a 2-0 loss at Anaheim on Monday.
“They gave us some really big shifts, energy, good offensive-zone time. They were on the puck,” he said. “A little reckless in their forecheck and recovery of pucks, which is always nice to keep the other team off balance, and just looking for that kind of consistent performance every game. And if they do that they can be very effective for us.”
Westgarth said he saw the two-goal performance Wednesday by fellow Princeton alum George Parros of the Ducks against Florida, and Westgarth took it up as a challenge to light the red light himself. He has one assist and no goals in 19 games this season.
“Tonight’s the night,” he said. “We had some pretty good chemistry as a line and I look forward to keeping it going tonight. Creating. Wherever the goals have to come from. We’re going to get our big guys going. If we can help chip in and play the game the way it’s supposed to be played … Unexpected sources are always a nice surprise.”
More later on the Kings at www.latimes.com/sports.
-- Helene Elliott