Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Kings: Tuesday practice updates
By Dan Arritt
A few hours after Kings coach Terry Murray said he didn’t plan to "fool around with the line combinations," he made some sweeping changes during practice Tuesday.
Justin Williams was moved from second-line right wing to the struggling top group, and Wayne Simmonds was returned to the third line with Michal Handzus and rookie Kyle Clifford.
Trevor Lewis then moved up from the third line to the second, taking Williams’ former spot alongside Jarret Stoll and Ryan Smyth.
Murray initially downplayed the changes, saying nothing was set in stone for Thursday’s game against visiting Florida, but did speak about the need for offense following a 2-0 loss Monday night at Anaheim.
The Kings have scored only four goals in their current four-game losing streak, and don’t have an even-strength goal in last 11 periods.
"We need some offense, we need to get some production from the top two lines in particular," he said. "In the last several games here, we’ve gotten a little stale so we’re just trying to get a different look and get some focus back."
Williams is the eighth different wing to play on the top line this season with Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar.
While grouped with Stoll and Smyth, they were on a tear for 15 games, scoring 22 goals in that span. However, they’ve cooled off lately, producing only one goal in the last six.
"It’s definitely a reflection of how the team has lacked scoring," Williams said of his move to the top line. "We’re only going to create something if we work hard for each other. I know we will."
Brayden Schenn, who recently completed a conditioning assignment with the club's AHL affiliate in Manchester, practiced with the fourth line. Defenseman Willie Mitchell (wrist) and forward Alexei Ponikarovsky (finger), both out since Nov. 6 because of injuries, skated after practice, but both are still at least a week from returning.
Defenseman Matt Greene also missed practice for "maintenance."
More to come from practice today, including some insight from general manager Dean Lombardi on the problems the Kings are facing and his limited options as far as improving the team via trade.