It’s been quite a roller-coaster week for Alexei Ponikarovsky. On Saturday, he returned to the lineup after missing six games with an ankle injury. On Monday, he skated on the first line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. Today, he’s out of the lineup entirely. Ponikarovsky played just under 15 minutes on Monday against Toronto, but Terry Murray made it clear that he didn’t like what he saw. As earlier noted, Ryan Smyth will take Ponikarovsky’s spot on the first line, and Brad Richardson will take his lineup spot, with Richardson skating on the fourth line with Trevor Lewis and Kevin Westgarth. Here’s what Murray said today about his decision to scratch Ponikarovsky…

MURRAY: “With Poni, I just need him to be a more competitive player right now. He’s coming back off another injury there, but it’s got to be a whole lot better, from a veteran player.”

Ponikarovsky, signed to a one-year, $3-million contract last summer, has three goals and four assists in 24 games.

MURRAY: “Whenever you’re scratching a player, it’s very hard. Everybody wants to play on a regular basis. Certainly, whenever you’re a veteran player it’s more difficult. But there’s a standard of compete that we have to have. I was looking at the game that he played against Toronto, his former team. It was maybe the first game that he played against them. If he played against them with Pittsburgh, I’m not sure. And he’s playing with Kopitar and Brown. That’s a pretty good pair to be able to get on a line with, against your old teammates. I was expecting not just hard work but a very competitive level of hard work. That part of it is not there for me. In fact, I was upset about it at the end of the game. It needs to be at a higher level. I need to express that. Players don’t really want to accept it all the time, but that’s our view and that’s where the decision has to be made.”

Ponikarovsky actually did play a game against Toronto last season, after being traded to Pittsburgh. It was on March 28, and Ponikarovsky had one assist in the Penguins’ 5-4 shootout victory. On the other side of the coin is Richardson, who returns to the lineup after missing two games as a healthy scratch. Murray hasn’t elaborated as to what his issues with Richardson’s play were, but said he was confident that Richardson is ready to play…

MURRAY: “We had a meeting, and went over some video. I think we’re at an understanding, of what he needs from me and what I need from him.”

Rules for Blog Commenting
  • - No profanity, slurs or other offensive language. Replacing letters with symbols does not turn expletives into non-expletives.
  • - Personal attacks against other blog commenters, and/or blatant attempts to antagonize other commenters, are not tolerated. Respectful disagreement is encouraged. Posts that continually express the same singular opinion will be deleted.
  • - Comments that incite political, religious or similar debates will be deleted.
  • - Please do not discuss, or post links to, websites that illegally stream NHL games.
  • - Posting under multiple user names is not allowed. Do not type in all caps. All violations are subject to comment deletion and/or banning of commenters, per the discretion of the blog administrator.
Alec martinez

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 210 lb | Age: 29

Born: July 26, 1987
Birthplace: Rochester Hills, MI, USA
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Martinez was drafted by the LA Kings in the 2007 Draft, while playing for Miami University. He has since become a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the 17th man in Stanley Cup playoff history to score the Cup-winning goal in overtime.

VIEW ALEC MARTINEZ POSTS
Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

VIEW ANZE KOPITAR POSTS
Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

VIEW DREW DOUGHTY POSTS
Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
VIEW TYLER TOFFOLI POSTS

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

VIEW JEFF CARTER POSTS
Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

VIEW JONATHAN QUICK POSTS