February 3, 2012 2:05 pm

Sit-and-watch time for Loktionov

It would seem as though Andrei Loktionov’s short-term future with the Kings has reached a critical point. Before Wednesday’s game against Columbus, Darryl Sutter went out of his way to talk about Loktionov’s line, and pointedly said that while he had been pleased with Trevor Lewis, “the other two guys are going to have to play a hell of a lot better.’’ That meant Loktionov and Brad Richardson.

A few hours later, Richardson had five shots on goal but Loktionov played 11 minutes, 2 seconds, his second-lowest total ice time in more than a month, did not record a shot on goal and had a minus-1 rating. That’s probably not the type of response that Sutter had in mind. So, tonight, Loktionov is expected to sit, as Trent Hunter gets back into the lineup. Loktionov’s short-term future is far from certain. He’s more productive at center — where he has been playing — than on wing, and the Kings are deep at center. Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Jarret Stoll, Colin Fraser, Lewis and Richardson are all centers.

Loktionov has yet to score a goal this season, and while his playmaking skills are also valued, Loktionov has only four assists in 30 games. He hasn’t exactly been playing between two strong finishers — Richardson and Lewis — but at least for now, Loktionov hasn’t done enough to stay in the lineup, it seems.

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