As mentioned the other day, Teddy Purcell — the Kings’ latest first-line left wing in place of Ryan Smyth — will become the first player to start a game on each of the four lines this season. He has gone from second to third to fourth to first, an unlikely trajectory, but one that presents a good opportunity starting tonight, with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams.
Purcell started the season with two goals in his first three games but has zero goals and three assists since, and no points in his last eight games. It’s no hyperbole to say that Purcell needs to take advantage of this opportunity, as it’s doubtful that another one will come along any time soon. Here’s what Purcell told me this morning…
Question: I think you’re the first guy to start on all four lines this year. I’m not sure whether to congratulate you for that or what…
PURCELL: “(laughs) Definitely not a goal of mine, or something that I was looking forward to at the start of the year, but at the same time I guess that’s part of it. When you start off good and then you fall into a little rut, you’re going to get bounced around a little bit. At the same time now, this is a great opportunity for me. It’s no secret that Terry wants to get something out of me. There’s no better players to do it with than the leading scorer in the league and Willie. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. It’s going to be a lot of fun playing with them. I just have to prove that I can take advantage of it.”
Question: Clearly nobody is going to replace Ryan Smyth outright, but what skills do you need to bring in order to make that line successful?
PURCELL: “Obviously everyone knows they’re a cycle line, so you just kind of make those little 10-foot, 15-foot give-and-go plays. The last couple games, we’ve been stressing getting to the net, and especially with Edmonton’s goalie coming off a shutout, we’re going to have to get some traffic in front of him and get some pucks to him early. The cycle is good, but if you’re not getting shots or taking advantage, it’s not going to be that effective. Look to make plays, try to take it to the net and try to create some stuff around there.”
Question: In analyzing your own play, do you feel as though you’re close? Is it a matter of a good bounce and getting one goal to get it going?
PURCELL: “That’s what I’m looking for. It’s especially nice to get back on the power play. Hopefully I can get a lucky bounce. It seems like I’ve been getting chances, but for whatever reason I can’t find a way to put them in. At the same time, with these guys hopefully I’m going to get a lot more chances and play with highly skilled guys. You don’t want to hold the stick too tight. You just kind of want to go out and play, not think too much. That’s what I’m really looking forward to, and hopefully we can get back on track and take two points tonight.”
Question: Do you feel like the coaching staff has been clear about things with you? You do get moved around quite a bit…
PURCELL: “Terry does a pretty good job of letting you know where you stand, and Jamie (Kompon) and Harpo (Mark Hardy) do the same thing. There’s no secrets, there’s no hidden messages or anything like that. They’re pretty straightforward, and I’m grateful for this opportunity. I’m going to work my hardest and do my best to take advantage of it.”