Forward groups evolve as team looks to ignite scoring - LA Kings Insider

Darryl Sutter bases his offensive lines off groups of twos, so don’t expect to see Marian Gaborik separated from Anze Kopitar or Jeff Carter apart from Tyler Toffoli.

That outlook allowed him to move several forwards around for the team’s practice on Saturday, when Milan Lucic was aligned with Carter and Toffoli, and Brown was bumped back up alongside Kopitar and Gaborik, with whom he spent much of the 2014 postseason and episodes of the 2014-15 season.

“We need some more from the forwards, and then if you break that up even farther, and you break it up into lines or power plays, you break it like that – more from our centermen, like that – I think that our top two lines were not getting enough quality looks where it’s one-and-done or in the cycle part of it or the support part of it in the forecheck,” Sutter said. “We’re just not getting enough, so we’re kind of looking at it, ‘OK, who’s playing well, and who looks like they have a hot hand, and who’s worked it before,’ that sort of thing. I still like pairs. I still like Gaby and Kopi, I still like Ty and Jeff, and that’s how we do view it, right? Brownie’s getting lots of good shots and good looks and a lot of time with the puck, so we’ve just kind of got to look at all that.”

Brown has indeed been one of the bright spots among the forwards through the first two games of the season, both regulation losses. He now leads the team with eight shots on goal after a seven-shot performance on Friday night.

Of course, when Milan Lucic was acquired in June, Dean Lombardi almost immediately deemed him a linemate of Kopitar and Gaborik’s, noting that his presence would return Gaborik to his preferred right side. That look ended when Gaborik returned to the left wing on Saturday.

“The last couple of years, mostly I played on the left side there, so I’m very familiar with that,” Gaborik said. “I’ve been on the right side, and I could have done more obviously, but now I’m back on the left side.”

With Brown returning to Kopitar’s line and Lucic joining the Carter-Toffoli pair, Tanner Pearson was moved alongside Nick Shore and Trevor Lewis, and Andy Andreoff skated alongside Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan. Jordan Weal served as an extra forward during line drills.

After practice, Gaborik spoke with LAKI about the adjustments to the team’s lines.

Marian Gaborik, on the adjustments to the team’s lines in practice:
Darryl’s the coach. He makes all the decisions, and obviously in these two games, the first game we didn’t have anything, and our last game, a little bit better, but obviously we need to generate more. It’s a long year, so obviously you’re going to see changes and stuff, but that’s just the way it is. Whoever Im playing with, we just have to make the best out of it … and play well, play the least amount of time in our zone and have some zone time in their end, and just capitalize and bear down on opportunities and score some goals.

Gaborik, on whether Friday’s game represented a step in the right direction for the forwards:
I think so. I mean, we had a bit more, we had some chances, we just have to bury those. We need to do better, obviously, that’s for sure.

Gaborik, on his and Brown’s versatility:
Mostly, last year and now, I’m going to be left, he’s going to be right, so that’s how we’re going to play together. We know what we can expect out of each other there, and we created some chemistry last year at times. Obviously, because we’re going to be playing the next game at least together, so like I said, we just have to make the best out of it and play the best we can. Like I said, whoever I’m playing with or we’re playing with, it doesn’t matter. We just have to generate.

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Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right


Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.