Terry Murray’s decision to put Andrei Loktionov on the second line and keep the first and third lines intact — at least in practice today — presents an interesting five-players-for-three-spots scenario for the fourth line. The Kings have a center (Colin Fraser) a right winger (Kevin Westgarth), a veteran who can play either wing (Ethan Moreau) and two guys who can comfortably play any of the three positions (Trevor Lewis and Brad Richardson). It’s tough to predict how this will shake out. Moreau is a veteran and a lineup regular. Fraser has made a strong impression in his two games. Westgarth is likely to be scratched unless Murray feels the need for a “heavyweight” presence. That leaves Lewis and Richardson. Here’s what Murray said today about the fourth line in general, followed by some specific thoughts on Richardson, Fraser and Lewis. Finally, a poll. Who do you think should be on the fourth line? Select your three top choices…
MURRAY: “We’re starting to get a line on that fourth line. It’s getting more of an identity, an identity that I like, with that grit and playing the hard game. With Fraser in the middle and Moreau on the left side, and I’ve got Westie and can move some people around in that situation, I really believe that they’re a line that can give the team a lot of contagious energy. They can set a tone. They can go out and have a shift in the offensive zone, and everybody else can come back and feed off of that. I think that adrenaline is going to start to be there on a consistent basis.”
(on Brad Richardson…)
MURRAY: “He’s a versatile player, and it’s great to have that. Now he’s been able to play on the right side. He’s a player we look to on the special teams, penalty killing. I’ve moved him up, as you know, last year with Kopitar for a while, with Wayne Simmonds on the right and it was a high-energy line that worked very hard and had good success. He’s a real good utility infielder for me to move around like that. I think Brad brings a pretty good resume on the offensive part of the game, the scoring side, and I’d like to see him break through. The hard work that he puts into the game, on the ice in practice, on the ice during the games, he deserves a better break than what he’s gotten so far on the production side.”
(on Colin Fraser…)
MURRAY: “That’s who he is, what you saw in the last couple games. He’s going to be a player that is going to play a very determined, a very high-compete game. He’s a competitor in the sense that he’s going to battle and be in your face. He’s going to go to the blue paint and he’s going to try to create a little havoc every time he’s on the ice. That’s nice adrenaline to see, and I think it’s a very contagious kind of an attitude that can filter through everybody.”
(on Trevor Lewis…)
MURRAY: “Lewis has played the wing the last three games, so that might be a place that he’s going to end up staying. I think his role is pretty well defined, in that he’s got some speed and he has good composure with the puck. He can carry it out of difficult times in your own end. He brings a good attitude on the penalty-kill side of the game. So he has the ability to move around, and he has more experience at it than what we might think. He played there a lot during his time in Manchester two years ago. So this is a very easy adjustment for him.”
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