Third line a key to success? - LA Kings Insider

There’s been plenty of talk — and rightfully so — about the Kings’ need to score more goals, but a look at the statistics reveals something interesting. Regular top-six forwards such as Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Ryan Smyth, Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams, are all on track for equal — if not higher — point total, compared to last season. Take a look at the third line, though. Michal Handzus and Wayne Simmonds are both on pace for 10-point reductions this season, and none of the rotating left wingers have come close to Alexander Frolov’s production as the regular winger on that line last season. Frolov, Handzus and Simmonds combined for 55 goals and 133 points last season. This season, depending on which player — Kyle Clifford, Alexei Ponikarovsky or Brad Richardson — you choose to substitute in for Frolov, that line is on pace for 31-35 goals and 73-83 points. That’s a significant dip, and the Kings tweaked the third line again today, hoping that the combination of Ponikarovsky, Handzus and Simmonds — who started the season together — can get something going. Ponikarovsky’s fortunes have been headed north of late while SImmonds has taken a couple steps backward. Today, Terry Murray was asked about the change, and those two players in particular…

MURRAY: “I liked the fourth line the way it was set up, with Clifford and Lewis and Ponikarovsky. I think they’ve given us very good energy in the last half-dozen games. Important shifts. They’ve actually, I feel, turned some games around and broke a game open, when we follow up with that kind of intensity and energy. There’s good, physical play. Poni, he’s responding to a challenge. He’s working very hard, playing pretty physical and getting those bumps whenever the opportunity is there. And you get a reward for that. So there’s probably a different look for him tomorrow. He gets moved up to a higher line, to play with Zeus, and hopefully he responds and keeps going, actually. Not responds, but keeps going with the same kind of intensity and the same kind of purpose to his game.

“On the other side, with Simmer, I’ve moved him around a little bit. He’s been playing with Kopi, and gives us some really good looks. A little bit of a drop-off, which has been addressed with him. The area that seems to surface, consistently, is not moving his feet. He ends up gliding, and once you start to do that, then a big part of his game goes away on him, which is that dot-to-board game. Tomorrow, he will end up with Zeus, and I don’t look at that as any kind of demotion, at all, from Stolly’s line. That’s a very important line for us, playing against the top lines of the opposition, and I just need him to keep focusing on the attack part of the game, moving your feet, be a power forward, be tenacious, get to the net, get some of those ugly goals that we’re talking about.”

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Jake Muzzin

#6 | 6′ 3″ | 216 lb | Age: 27

Born: Feb 21, 1989
Birthplace: Woodstock, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Left


Muzzin was drafted in 2007 by the Pittsburgh Penguins, before signing to the Kings in 2010. He has since become the first Woodstock, Ontario professional athlete to win a major sports trophy.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

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


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.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

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


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.

Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

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


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.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

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


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.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

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


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.