Trying to pair up
With Drew Doughty out of the lineup, there’s not likely to be much stability on the Kings’ defense for a while. What to do? With Matt Greene about to return — perhaps as soon as tomorrow — do the Kings take out Peter Harrold, who did an admirable job against Phoenix (and who can also play on the power play)? Do they take out Jake Muzzin, who has yet to have a terrible game (and can also play on the power play)? Do they take out Davis Drewiske, who has been solid all season, so far?
Even then, what are the pairings? With Doughty out, the Kings have only one high-level “puck mover” on defense, in Jack Johnson, and even he has struggled in recent games. Murray started out, last night, with the Kings’ defense looking mostly familiar, with Harrold taking Doughty’s spot next to Willie Mitchell, but soon Kings defensemen were moving all around, with even a look of Mitchell and Rob Scuderi on the ice together at one point. Murray indicated today that with Doughty out, he’s not likely to have stable defensive pairs for a while.
MURRAY: “I think that’s the adjustment that you inevitably get to whenever your best defenseman is out of the lineup. So that’s probably the way you’ll see it play out in every game. There’s special teams, there are different looks for that, and then it’s who is going well at critical times in the game.”
Harrold’s ability to play on the power play might be his ticket to stay in the lineup, and Harrold acquitted himself well against the Coyotes. Coming in cold, after being a healthy scratch for five games, against a fast Phoenix team, Harrold played nearly 21 minutes.
HARROLD: “My legs and stamina were fine. It was more about just getting used to the speed again. Practice is practice, but in the games it ramps up a bit. After the first 10, 20 minutes, you kind of settle back in and you’re all set, so it was good.
“Obviously I’m not Drew Doughty, but I can contribute in similar ways. That’s what I’m going to have to try to do, try to contribute on the power play if I can, and make sure I’m moving up in the play to try to contribute in the offensive zone while taking care of my own zone. He’s a key part of the team, and obviously I’m not here to replace him, but I just have to go in and play my game.”