Before the Kings’ Jan. 9 game against Washington, Darryl Sutter made wholesale line changes. Here’s the good news: In the six games since, the Kings have averaged 2.83 goals (not including the third goal in the 3-2 shootout win over Vancouver) and the top-line players — Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams — have scored a combined total of nine goals. The bad news? There hasn’t been much balance. In that span, the second-line players have scored three goals, the third-line players have scored one (Trevor Lewis) and the fourth-line players have scored one (Kyle Clifford).
The Penner-Richards-Stoll line has been used regularly as the Kings’ top defensive-matchup line, so Darryl Sutter cuts them a little slack, publicly, in terms of offensive production. The Richardson-Loktionov-Lewis line? Different story. Asked specifically about Loktionov’s game last night, Sutter said, matter-of-factly, “Three or four scoring opportunities, and no goals.’’
SUTTER: “Our third line has got to start scoring some goals for us. You do the math. How many goals does the third line have? They’re doing a lot of good things, working hard and giving us a lot of energy and doing good things. We want them to be better at faceoffs and we want them to do better finishing. Trevor is, right now, carrying that line. The other two guys can play better for us.’’
Question: What about the Richards line?
SUTTER: “They did a good job against Jarome (Iginla) and (Michael) Cammalleri and whoever was with them, and that’s pretty much how we’ve used (the line). We did a good job. (Richards’) last four games have probably been his best games since I’ve been here.’’