Line Change: Kings Find Success with Juggling Combinations
Through 8 games, the Kings are 6-2-0. They lost a close game in Calgary and a tough one in Phoenix without Doughty and Greene. Other than that, they have done nothing but impressed:
There’s no dominant NHL team now but gotta love the Kings as a possibility.
10/26/10 8:42 am
I really like the sound of that.
Yesterday, USA Today came out with their latest Power Rankings list for the NHL and placed the Kings at #4. Not in the West- in the NHL. That also sounds quite nice.
In these 8 games, it is interesting to examine one of the main issues the team has been attempting to address to start this season: goal scoring.
As much as I hate uttering this sentence but- with GM Dean Lombardi failing to land a goal-scoring winger in the off-season blah, blah, blah; the same sentiment we’ve all heard dozens of times already this season, the scoring production of the top-six forwards will face much scrutiny throughout the season and, God willing, the playoffs.
Lombardi and the organization feel that even though Kovalchuk didn’t come to L.A., they can count on players within the organization to fill the holes in the lineup to help fill the net. So far the strategy has been to throw it all against the wall to see what sticks.
The Kings started the season with the following top 2 lines:
These lines did not have great success and only produced one even strength goal in the 2 games before they were broken up. That goal involved Doughty on the play, not Ryan Smyth.
The next practice, the Kings switched to this:
*Note: Towards the end of the Atlanta Thrashers game, the successful line from last season of Smyth-Kopitar-Williams was reunited briefly, but they have yet to start a game that way.
This new 2nd line has been nothing short of a revelation, with each member popping 6 points in those 6 games, thus rightfully remaining intact presently.
That 1st line looked decent, but offensive production would suggest that perhaps the Stoll line should earn the title of ‘top’ line. This line is no longer intact either.
In the Kings’ game against the Colorado Avalanche, Coach Terry Murray was forced to reconfigure his lines after losing Wayne Simmonds to a game misconduct penalty for butt-ending. Brad Richardson made the jump to the top line with Kopitar and Brown, which resulted in Richardson’s first NHL hat trick.
Loktionov was bumped down, and he now has a spot on the team’s 4th line. In his brief NHL career, he has looked skillful but somewhat timid. He still seems to be adjusting to the speed of the NHL. Despite the demotion, Murray clearly wants to keep him in the lineup to provide Loktionov with more NHL experience to improve on. No doubt the organization likes what they have seen and, like the rest of us, are expecting even bigger things from the young Russian.
After another game misconduct penalty in the following contest against the Minnesota Wild, the 1st line would face yet another restructuring, ironically sliding Wayne Simmonds in place of the excused Dustin Brown.
At this point in the season, Anze Kopitar has played with the following players on his line:
Though all are talented players, this is not an ideal scenario for any center. It’s tough for any player to develop chemistry when their line-mates are constantly shuffled.
Yet who is leading the Kings in points at this point in the season?
Anze Kopitar: 3 goals, 5 assists in 8 games played.
Before taking the line juggling into account, this comes as no surprise. But the fact that Kopitar has been consistent amidst all the changes is very impressive.
Impressive is a word that has not commonly been used in conjunction with the Los Angeles Kings in recent years.
It seems the times, they are a changing.