No game-day skate for Kings in Boston; lines could be mixed around
After arriving late from Buffalo following the 4-2 loss that extended their losing streak to three, Kings Coach Terry Murray canceled Saturday’s game-day skate in Boston. Instead, he held meetings and went over video at the team’s hotel to prepare for Saturday’s game against the Bruins.
Murray emerged to say that with the exception of switching goalies to start Jonathan Quick, as scheduled, he was sticking with the same personnel but was contemplating a change on the fourth line.
That trio recently has consisted of rookies Kyle Clifford and Trevor Lewis and 26-year-old Kevin Westgarth, who’s too old to be classified a rookie by the NHL’s definition but is only 24 games into his NHL career. Clifford was -2 against the Sabres and Lewis and Westgarth were each -1.
"What I’m thinking is, I need more minutes from the fourth-line guys in back-to-back situations and probably every game,” Murray said. "Certainly [Friday] night, you get into penalty kills, power plays, it’s very demanding. I’m going to take a look at adding a veteran to the fourth line, maybe moving Cliffie to another area, another line. Maybe moving Westie up. I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet.
“You get three rookies on the one line last night, they got a little exposed. So if I add a veteran to either wing it might help alleviate some of my concerns.”
He also said Dwight King will stay on the top line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. “I didn’t mind him there,” Murray said.
Told that his words seemed like faint praise, Murray laughed.
“It’s good praise. I like what he did,” Murray said. "I thought he was on the puck. He had some strong play along the boards in the offensive zone. He had good awareness in the game, so give him another look there.”
Asked what he hopes to see against the Bruins that he hasn’t seen the previous three games, Murray didn’t hesitate. “The game [Friday] night became a special teams game. Missing our opportunities early and giving them too many opportunities late and it just becomes very taxing," he said.
He also said he’s concerned that his players have been taking retaliatory penalties and that his penalty killers need more of "a dig-in attitude.” Goals scored on faceoffs in the last few games have also drawn his ire. “That’s something we do a great job on at home, killing penalties," he said.
“We need to get that job done on the road.”
The power play was scoreless in five chances against Buffalo and has been blanked in two of the past three games. But Murray said the power play on Friday was “pretty good” from the standpoint of puck possession and breakouts. “When I review it again, there’s people at the net all by themselves,” he said.
“We need to finish, obviously, and there’s a need to find those loose pucks, maybe screen them a little bit better, but show the attitude that San Jose and Buffalo did last night, where there is something around the net, you’ve got to really dig in there and recover that puck or get it right back to the net immediately, and maybe get one of those ugly goals. It could give us that confidence that we need to execute on a real consistent basis on the special teams.”
Brown, the team captain, said players aren’t panicking. What they talked about Saturday was simple.
“Just stick with it,” he said. “You look at the game against Columbus, I think we did a lot of really good things. We had control of that game [Friday] night. I think discipline might be something we need to key on after [Friday’s] game.
“We won seven in a row and now lost three in a row. Or six in a row, I’m not sure,” he added, correcting himself about the length of the winning streak that preceded the current slump. “It’s just a matter of bouncing back, really. We need these two points tonight.”
More later at www.latimes.com/sports
-- Helene Elliott in Boston
Photo: Kings winger Dwight King has his shot deflected by Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller in the second period Friday night. Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig / US Presswire