LA Kings Insider posted new practice lines this morning.
Lets break these down one by one, try and divine Terry Murray’s reasoning.
Brown-Kopi-Simmonds: Lots of potential there. Wayne Simmonds’ game has been picking up of late with his retrieval of 50/50 pucks, the strongest part of his game. For two years now we have wanted and waited to see Simmonds flash some offensive flair on a regular basis. Though he spent some time on the first line last year, this could be his big chance to show that he can put the puck in the net. I do have to wonder how Brown and Simmonds will play together. Given that they are both natural right wingers, I don’t believe we have ever seen these two on the ice at the same time. If Brown can just park his ass in front of the net and let Kopitar work the open ice and Simmonds work the boards, this line has the potential for magic. At the very least, lets hope that Simmonds can inspire a fiercer game from Kopitar.
Smyth-Stoll-Willy: Known commodity. While I feel this line has cooled off lately, this could be just a symptom of the overall drop in team performance. We know these three veterans can work the cycle as well as anyone and provide strong finishing ability. Still… if this set of line changes doesn’t work out, at some point Williams and Kopitar must be put back together. But we’ll save that judgment for Sunday. For now, let positive thinking rule the air.
Clifford-Handzus-Lewis: Is this still our shutdown line? I guess it has to be. Lewis has been playing great and Clifford shows more and more confidence and reliability every game. However regardless of how great we know Zus to be, can two rookies be on a shutdown line? This is a HUGE vote of confidence in Clifford and Lewis. If there are two players on this team who have shown this year they are ready for a challenge, it is these two rookies.
King-Richardson-Westgarth: Well there goes the 4th line we can roll throughout a game. Richardson better have his legs going, because he is going to need to be twice as fast as usual to make up for this now lumbering line. King’s game at this point in his career seems suited for a 4th line NHL role, if you can even say he is suited for the NHL, which I know many do not. At the very least, this move will slash his minutes in half as well as take away the burden of scoring while also playing against opposing shutdown units. Lets hope that King can thrive playing against other 4th liners. The problem for me on this line is that if King can not elevate his reads, something we know by now not to expect from Kevin Westgarth, then even another 4th line with some offensive talent may easily expose this unit. Though he has played on higher lines with more expectations and ice time, this will be by far the most important role Brad Richardson has played with the Kings. He needs to carry these two. As a fast player and as the center, he will have to be extra vigilant in his role as F3. The problem is, can Dwight King be an F1, namely the first man on the puck in the offensive zone? It would seem Richardson truly needs to fill two roles on this line.
We do not yet know if there are going to be changes on defense, or even if these lines will last beyond a single practice. However with Terry Murray’s track record, coupled with the pitiful performance in Montreal last Wednesday, it is probably safe to assume these are the lines that will match up against the struggling Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow night when the Kings return to Staples Center.
Always and forever, even when the coach seems a bit crazy,
GO KINGS GO!
Categories: L.A. Kings News