How to fix the Kings – the line combos Murray should use

They call him the juggler.

Kings coach Terry Murray has been known to mix up the line combinations, to the point he recently joked about keeping a line together ‘for three or four more games.’

However, one thing that isn’t too funny is the Kings lack of scoring this season. Over the summer, they added Mike Richards and Simon Gagne in the hopes of giving more punch to a line-up that ranked 25th in the league last year in goals scored.

After 13 games, they’re ranked 28th so far this season, dropping from an average of 2.55 goals per game last year to 2.15 at the moment.

Back in training camp, Dustin Brown said that he and Justin Williams had already talked about the fact that it was only a matter of time until they were flip-flopped as the number one and two right wings.

That time should be now. And, in one man’s opinion, this is how Murray should set up the offense…

Line Four – Murray has said that Ethan Moreau is a better left winger, yet he’s been playing him on the right side ‘because it’s the only spot open.’ Time to fix that. Moreau should be the fourth line left wing, with Trevor Lewis at center and Kevin Westgarth/Trent Hunter on the right side. Westgarth played great hockey in the playoffs last year and if he can return to that form, he’s perfectly capable of being in there most nights. LA is 3-2-1 with him in the line-up this year (just saying). Hunter hasn’t shown much, nor would you expect him too coming off major knee surgery. Scott Parse is also an option, but again – he’s a natural left wing and you’d be asking him to play the off side. Thus, Westgarth seems like the best option.

Line Three – Of course, Jarret Stoll is the center. On his right side should be Brad Richardson. Off the ice, they can battle over who is the ‘best dressed’ King. On the ice, Richardson’s speed and Stoll’s playmaking should give you the energy and jump needed on a third line. Kyle Clifford blossomed on the third line last season and he should return there as soon as possible. On any given night, Clifford and Moreau could be exchanged for each other. Yet, Clifford and Westgarth on the same line isn’t recommended.

Line Two – Again, Richards is the center – obviously. The idea coming into the season was to put Gagne on his left side. Penner’s early season injury is what separated the two and now is the time to reunite them. Adjusting to a new team is hard enough, let these guys play together. At least they know each other from earlier in their careers. Williams is a Philly guy too. They can all get together and talk cheesesteaks or something. Who knows. Point is, Brown needs to be up with Kopitar for the time being, which leaves Williams on this line with Richards and Gagne.

Line OneAnze Kopitar is at center, enough said. Dustin Penner needs to be on his left side. Now, before you throw up in your mouth a little, think about a few things. Just yesterday Murray said “That’s where he has always had success (in a top-six role), and that’s where I think the success is to be had with us.” Exactly. Penner is the wrong type of player to be paired with Richards though, which eliminates him from the second line. Putting Penner in front of the net also forces Kopitar to shoot more and that’s what you need from #11. Williams with Kopitar isn’t working right now and Brown finally found success with Kopitar last season, so go back to it.  A lot of people want to move Brown to the third line – a move I just don’t understand. He can score 25-30 goals and is a legitimate top-six forward.  Right now, he’s earned his way onto the top line.

On the defensive side of the puck, if Alec Martinez can’t start producing some points soon, it might be time to trade Davis Drewiske (even if it’s for the infamous ‘player to be named later’) and get Slava Voynov back to the West Coast.

Offensively, the fix is simple…

Penner-Kopitar-Brown
Gagne-Richards-Williams
Clifford-Stoll-Richardson
Moreau-Lewis-Westgarth

Agree or disagree?

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
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RELATED ARTICLES:

Dustin Brown doesn’t buy that he lacks chemistry with Anze Kopitar

Kings coach already juggling lines for next season

Mike Richards has ideas how to improve the Kings power play

Coach Murray – ‘That line could be together another three or four more games’

What I’ve learned so far this season… by Brad Richardson – interesting thoughts on his teammates

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