Kings splitting Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar
May, 23, 2013
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com
LOS ANGELES -- The Kings’ new forward lines were still a go at the pregame skate Thursday morning, meaning captain Dustin Brown and star center Anze Kopitar were on different units.
If the morning lines stand for Game 5 Thursday night, Kopitar will start with Kyle Clifford and Justin Williams, and Brown will be on the third line with Trevor Lewis and Dwight King.
“When you score two goals in 120 minutes, you got to mix it around,” Brown said after the morning skate. “With Kinger and Lewis, they’re both really hard-working guys with pretty good skill low. They have that two-man cycle game down pat. For us, it should be about simplifying our game, getting it into their zone and cycling. The important thing, and I mentioned this to Lewy and Kinger: it’s one thing to cycle; we have to bring pucks to the net when we have the opportunity. Sometimes that’s just bearing down, dropping your shoulder and going. With the size and skill we have on this line, that should be our goal.”
For Clifford, it’s a big promotion from the fourth line to Kopitar’s line.
“It’s definitely a big role, I just have to play my game, keep it simple and not change anything,” Clifford said.
Dustin Penner remained with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, Penner having joined that duo midway through Game 4 in San Jose -- although Penner’s promotion to that line doesn’t mean Kings coach Darryl Sutter is completely satisfied with his play in this series.
“We need a bigger, heavier game from Dustin Penner. Very simple,” Sutter said.
Stoll updateJarret Stoll is still not close to playing -- he hasn’t even resumed skating -- but there was some news reported by Sutter on Thursday morning.
“He rode the bike yesterday for a few minutes,” Sutter said. “He’ll do that again today. It is protocol. Is it progress? It is if it’s good today [how he feels on the bike ride].”
Sharks at Staples
The Kings have won 12 straight at home, where they’re a comfortable bunch. What do the Sharks have to do to get traction here?
“I think we can build off of Game 2; we played a good enough game to win here,” center Logan Couture said. “Obviously we took a couple of penalties at the end of that game that cost us. I think we played a really good road game that night. Hopefully we can build off that.”
Veteran defenseman Dan Boyle agreed.
“It’s important for us not to be complacent, not to be satisfied with what we’ve done so far,” he said. “I’ve seen it in the past, I’ve been on teams where you come back a little bit in the series and then there’s a letdown, you almost exhale for a second. I just think this team needs to keep going on what we’ve done over the past four games. We just need to keep going.”
The Sharks have had better starts three games in a row, and that’s something the Kings were keying on heading into Game 5.
“I think it’s based on your top guys,” Sutter said. “I know we keep coming back to that, but if you look at how especially their top two lines early have been really good, we’ve had to sort of weed into that. That’s the challenge for those groups.”
The Sharks know the Kings were preparing for a big start and have also talked about that heading into Game 5.
“The first 5-7 minutes are going to be important for our team,” San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. “We’re going to have to get on our toes and make sure that we’re aggressive and try to play those minutes in their end. I think they’ll try to make the start a focal point on their behalf. We have to be prepared for it.”