In the immediate aftermath of Justin Williams’ broken leg, coach Terry Murray went with Wayne Simmonds on first line, then thought better of it in the third period and elevated Dustin Brown. Today, and presumably in tomorrow’s game, Teddy Purcell got the call to skate with Anze Kopitar and Ryan Smyth. I asked Murray today about the choice of Purcell over Simmonds…
MURRAY: “I put Simmer there last night, after the injury happened, for a few shifts, and it just didn’t feel right to me. Simmer is just coming back from his injury. He’s not on top of his game, and I felt the same with Smytty. Having two players in the same position now, serious injuries, timing, a little bit of game-situations not in place, it wasn’t really the right thing, so I made the change with Brownie.”
Murray also talked about Purcell getting another opportunity in a high-profile role. Of course, Purcell started the season as the second-line left winger, and also played two games on the first line during Ryan Smyth’s absence. Purcell has one goal and zero assists in his last 21 games, but now moves to his more natural right wing. Will that make a difference, as Purcell gets another opportunity?
MURRAY: “It is another opportunity, and that’s where he has to play. He has to play on your top two lines. He’s a skill player, makes plays, supposed to score goals, and he can. He just has to find it, and take advantage of the opportunity, now that he has been moved out, and down to different positions. This is where he does have to play, on the top two lines, and it so happens, because of Willie’s injury, that it’s going to be with Kopi. It’s a pretty exciting opportunity for a young guy to get put in that position right now. We talked about it with him, and this is a critical point in the year for him, to take advantage of this opportunity.”