When Terry Murray made his wholesale line changes on Sunday, he was straightforward in saying that the move was basically a wake-up call, a change for the sake of change, but also to get attention. Today in practice, the Kings went back to more recognizable lines, with Anze Kopitar and Ryan Smyth back together, joined by Wayne Simmonds.
Does that mean that even though the Kings lost to San Jose yesterday, Murray feels as though the message was properly received?
MURRAY: “Talking with players here this morning, privately, and 1-on-1s, everybody felt really good with what happened yesterday, with the attitude, with the work, with the opportunities that were there. The one comment that was very interesting… When we got down 2-1, it was one of the feelings that we’ve had in recent games, where there’s been a very calm, relaxed feeling of `It’s OK. Just keep going. We’re doing the right thing. We’re doing a good job here.’
“We executed, through the rest of that game, at a real good level. That’s pretty good feedback from a player. That’s, to me, a growth spurt with our hockey club. That’s the mentality that is in and out with us sometimes. I think we’ve shown it for some periods of time this year, and other times we get away and we get off page, we’re not consistent in our execution.”
Murray also addressed the idea that, with Justin Williams still out long-term with a broken ankle, young players have an opportunity to step into roles, most notably Simmonds on the first line…
MURRAY: “It’s a great opportunity for those guys to move into higher lines and more minutes and see where their top is going to be. Simmer is there today. I thought he played very well the last time that I put him there. He was there for five games, and in three of those games he was excellent. He showed us an ability to move to a high skill level, to play with those players, and he brings grit to that line. He’s a pretty determined young man, and if he can add those characteristics to that line, I think he can be very effective.”