Can new look get Kopitar going?
Since the loss of Simon Gagne to his concussion, the Kings have stayed with the same group of top-six forwards (not including the last game, when Dustin Penner was injured). It’s been some combination of Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, Dustin Penner and Jarret Stoll. Sutter has used a couple different combinations of those players, and he will use another one tonight, as Kopitar centers Brown and Williams while Richards centers Penner and Stoll. Re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic? Perhaps, but for now, Sutter has identified his top six and he’s going with them. The primary goal, Sutter said, is to get more production from Anze Kopitar, who has scored one goal since just before Thanksgiving.
SUTTER: “Right now, without Simon (Gagne), that’s still the top six guys in your lineup, so you’re still just trying to (tweak it). It’s just about changed every game. Everybody sees it in practice and says, `That’s the line,’ but if you watch the way the game is played, we’re just trying to get that little bit more. We’re lucky to have Richie [Mike Richards] and Jarret, that can play two positions (each). You’re just trying to find something that works a little better. Against some teams, it’s a little easier from my standpoint at home, because if you’re in a 5-on-5 thing, you can kind of get who you want (on the ice). I think we all know that Mike is a better centerman. Hey, we need big Dustin and Mike and Stolly to be a good line. When Willy was there, Stolly, Dustin and Justin, they were our experienced line. They’re not old guys but they were our experienced line.
“What I’m trying to do is get Kopi going, get just a little more, not in terms of offense but just consistency in his game, from shift to shift. Brownie does a pretty good job of it. If he’s not spot-on, at least he’s banging on guys and all that. Justin has been playing really good. At the end of the day, it’s still about your top guys being your top guys. Everybody talks about a tough loss, 1-0, well, you can’t ask much more but your top guys can make the difference. Half a goal a game. I think Drew is really coming, so we’ve got to get Kopi and Richie, we’ve got to get those guys there too.’’