And although that seemed to be the theme of the day at practice yesterday, coach Terry Murray was stressing opportunity…
As in, “an opportunity for players to show what they can do on that side of the game now.”
Also noting that several guys will be placed “in a higher situation, more important situation and they’ll grow immensely through this opportunity.”
Specifically, he’s “looking for a couple young guys to step up here and take advantage of this opportunity.”
Regardless of age, the Kings need to somehow, someway replace the goals lost by Kopitar and Williams. So, what do you think – who will have the most goals over the final seven games?
Before you vote, here’s a quick look at the how the new Kings lines may impact a player’s performance:
Dustin Penner – has scored two goals since arriving in early March. Will now be playing with Michal Handzus at center. His right wing will continue to be Oscar Moller, who he’s played with the last two games.
Michal Handzus – now the top line center. He’s posted 18 and 20 goals the last two seasons, primarily playing with Alexander Frolov. His goal total of 11 this year has been less than expected. Can a move to the top line help? His power play goal on Saturday was only his second PPG since mid-November. He’ll be seeing more time with the man advantage, as the primary replacement for Kopitar.
Oscar Moller – has only been up for two games. Can he gel with what Penner and Handzus bring to the table? He’s one of two players that could be called the ‘x-factor’ in this whole situation.
Ryan Smyth – a few weeks back, Murray alluded to needing more from his veteran forward. Smyth received a new center (Lewis0 when Kopitar left the game Saturday. He went on to score his first goal in 14 games. Coincidence?
Trevor Lewis – the other x-factor. Has been primarily playing fourth line minutes this season and spending time on the penalty kill. Now, he’ll be asked to be the second line center and also spend time on the power play. Can he (a) score some goals and (b) set-up Brown and Smyth? Scored his first goal since late December in the third period Saturday afternoon. Was it a sign of things to come?
Dustin Brown – is currently tied with Kopitar for the team goal scoring lead (25). If Moller can’t cut it on the top line, Brown could be headed there soon. Overall, he’s put together a nice offensive year and would love to end the season with 30 goals.
Alexei Ponikarovsky – has averaged 20 goals per season for the last five years. Enters play tonight with five goals for the Kings. Give him all the praise you want (and he deserves) for his recent play. Yet, when will he start scoring like he has the last five years? Time is just about out.
Jarret Stoll – if this were a poll on shootout goals, he’d win. It’s not, so picking Stoll is a crap shoot. He tends to be a streaky scorer and was hot at the beginning of the season. He could easily be moved to the first or second line center spot if Murray wants to see a different look for some reason.
Wayne Simmonds – like Stoll, #17 could easily find himself moved to the first or second line before the Kings leave Edmonton. His 13 goals right now put him real close to the pace of his 16 goals from last season. The problem is, many were expecting this to be his breakout 20-goal season. It’s probably not going to happen.
So, who will score the most goals for the Kings over their final seven regular season games?
Poll closes when the puck drops in Edmonton tonight.