April 1, 2011 3:20 pm

Murray explains wholesale changes

As noted earlier, Terry Murray made significant changes to the Kings’ lines and defensive pairs. Of the four lines and the three defensive pairs, the only one that remained intact today was the pairing of Alec Martinez and Matt Greene. Everything else changed. One subtle move is that Jack Johnson will go back to the right side and partner with Willie Mitchell. When the two defensemen last were together, Johnson was on the left, but the veteran Mitchell feels most comfortable on the left. After practice today, Murray talked in general about the changes, then went into specifics about the three new lines centered by Brad Richardson, Jarret Stoll and Michal Handzus…

MURRAY: “One way to describe it is, you’re shaking it up. I thought, in our game last night, we got away from executing at the level of play that we have over the last quite a while, actually. We’ve played some very good hockey. We broke away from the structure. We got away from playing for each other, when in possession of the puck. When you start to see that happen, a little bit of complacency might be setting in, and it’s time to make a change and give everybody a different look.”

(on the Clifford-Richardson-Simmonds line…)
MURRAY: “That’s a group that I come back with after powers plays, so they end up together four or five times in a game. They did end up together, as a line, a while ago, maybe going back a month and a half or so, and I liked the look. They really work very hard for each other. They had great tempo and pace, played gritty and hard, made some things happen in the offensive zone and spent considerable time in the offensive zone, as they did last night. I loved the play that Richie made, finding Doughty back-door, and Cliffy ends up scoring. That’s an offensive play. You want to think that most players can make that play, but they can’t. That’s having great awareness with the puck, so I want to give him an opportunity here to play with a couple of young players who will give us the energy and have an opportunity to score. That should be a pretty good line in the offensive zone.”

(on the Smyth-Stoll-Moller line…)
MURRAY: “Oscar, he’s a very talented guy, very skilled. He can see the ice, he makes great plays and I’m thinking that with Ryan Smyth, the two of them have real good awareness in the offensive zone. They really complement each other, and then we have some speed in the middle. A guy who can get in on the forecheck, get pucks stopped, hunt them down, get them stopped in the offensive zone, and now we’ve got the offensive part of the game hopefully set up so that the other two players are going to be at their strengths.”

(on the Penner-Handzus-Brown line…)
MURRAY: “It’s going to come down to work. I know Brownie and Handzus are two players who work hard all of the time, and I need Pens to pick up that part of it, just the tempo, the work. Brownie will always give you that attitude of really caring and doing the right things with hard work and tempo in his game. Handzus, he’s a thinker, he can move the puck very well and he’s got great awareness without the puck. He will certainly give the support, on the checking part of the game, to them. … (With Penner), to me it comes down to hard work. It requires smart work. It requires an adaption to new structure, a new team, a new system also, and I’m very mindful of that. You get hesitant sometimes, in playing the game, because you just don’t want to get caught out of position on the checking part of the game, to give something up to the opposition coming back at you. So, again, I have awareness to that, and that’s a matter of constant review and repetition in the practices, so that it becomes more of an instinctive game for him.”

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