Line changes…well, maybe
It was only a few minutes after last night’s game when Terry Murray told reporters that he wouldn’t make line changes, that he was pleased with chemistry. Well, this morning the Kings hit the ice with three new lines, although each received only right-wing tweaking. Justin Williams skated with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. Trevor Lewis skated with Jarret Stoll and Ryan Smyth. Wayne Simmonds skated with Michal Handzus and Kyle Clifford. Afterward, Murray tried to throw a bit of cold water on the changes, telling reporters that those wouldn’t necessarily be the lines Thursday when the Kings play Florida…
MURRAY: “We’ll see where that goes, in a couple days. Sometimes, if you make a little line change in practice, it brings a little more focus to it, and that’s a good thing when you have two days between games. We’ll see where it goes. Look, we need some offense. We need to get some production from the top two lines, in particular. The Stoll line has been tremendous, through the time they’ve been together, with lots of points, good chemistry, good reads and a lot of things happening. But in the last several games here, we’ve gone a little stale. We’re just trying to get a different look and get some focus back. Maybe it will stay as I had it in practice here today. Quite honestly, I can’t answer that. I’m going to continue to watch the last couple games, and put it under the microscope a little bit and see if I can make some changes that would be for the next game.”
If Murray does decide to make changes, it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see Williams on the top line. The Kings’ leading scorer, with 22 points in 23 games, Williams has been consistently strong all season. His speed, hard skating and willingness to work in the corners have made him a standout in nearly every game this season, and the move of Williams to the first line can be seen as a reflection on his strong play…
WILLIAMS: “Well, I don’t know about that, but it’s definitely a reflection of how the team has lacked scoring. We’ve scored, I don’t know, five goals in the last five games, something along those lines. That’s clearly not acceptable, so we’ll try to switch things up maybe. Maybe Kopi, Brownie and I can create something, but it’s only going to get created if we work hard for each other out there. I know we will, and hopefully this is something good. Smytty, Stolly and I stayed together for over 20 games, which is kind of an eternity for lines in this league, but hopefully we can do the same, create a spark and get something going in the positive direction.”
Question: You and Kopitar, when everyone was healthy last season, had some good success. If that something you think you could pick up again?
WILLIAMS: “For sure. Kopi is a guy who is simply going to create space, just by him being out there. If I can play at the top of my game, that means good things. Brownie is kind of the crasher, and I’m the grinder. I’ll try to make plays out there and try to make stuff happen, but I can’t deviate from my game, just because I’m playing with Kopi and Brownie. I’ll just play the same way.”