The loss of center Mike Richards to injury and the return of left winger Dustin Penner forced the Kings into more lineup/position shifting today. [UPDATE: Richards has now officially been put on injured reserve and Penner has been activated.] Dustin Brown moved back to right wing, with Simon Gagne and Anze Kopitar. Jarret Stoll, who had been on right wing, moves back to his natural position to center Penner and Justin Williams. That’s not exactly ideal, in two ways. First, losing Richards is a potentially huge blow, but also, Brown had looked increasingly comfortable on left wing, including last night’s outstanding power-play goal. Terry Murray pointed out, though, that Brown’s ability to attack from the left side won’t necessarily vanish now, and agreed that Brown had looked effective on that wing.
MURRAY: “Yeah, and he likes it on the left. I’ve had this conversation with Brownie in the past. He enjoys that, and you see why, from the goal he scored last night. He gets a lot of good looks. But, the one thing playing with Kopi and Gags is that both are very intelligent players, and if Brownie ends up breaking out with possession and he ends up drifting over or attacking from the left side, I think those guys are very capable of reading and making adjustments on their positions.’’
The changes also bring a renewed opportunity for Williams, who had been dropped to the third line. Williams has gone 16 consecutive games without a goal and has three goals in 25 games overall.
MURRAY: “Pressing is the right word. He really wants to score and he really wants to help the team on that side of the game. Most goals scorers and point producers, they look at the stat sheet at the end of the day and say, `Jeez, I didn’t do anything today, no stats.’ But he’s still playing. He’s holding onto the puck, he’s making plays, he’s attacking. He’s doing a lot of good things in the game. Sometimes you just have to back off, take a step back a little bit, and things start to come your way on the offensive side of numbers. It’s easy for me to stand here and say that. It’s hard for a player, who is looked to to put numbers up, to react that way. It will come through. He’s a player who can score. He has shown that throughout his career. You just have to keep going, keep putting pucks to the net. That’s the one thing I like, that is happening right now. He’s putting more pucks to the net in the last two or three games.’’