Los Angeles Kings In Need of a Spark; Could It Be Justin Williams?
On the March 4 loss to Nashville:
ANZE KOPITAR: “Our intensity and our compete level has to be a lot higher than that. We didn’t show up. That’s the bottom line."
DREW DOUGHTY: “We’re pretty disappointed as a team in our effort tonight."
On the March 6 loss to Montreal:
RYAN SMYTH: “In today’s game, you need to capitalize on special teams, and we didn’t do that. We gave up on it, and it’s unacceptable."
(Head Coach) TERRY MURRAY: "We played fine but we were just playing the game, and you can’t just play the game right now [this late in the season]; you got to play with an attitude.”
The Kings could clearly use a spark.
Trade deadline acquisitions Jeff Halpern and Fredrik Modin have been solid, but they aren't exactly the type of high-energy, goal-scoring, fight-starting players who really get the bench fired up. They are simply role players, though they are very good in their roles.
Modin did score his first goal as a King on Saturday night, a nice move around the 6'7" Hal Gill, and I thought that may have been what the Kings needed to get going, but it did not have the desired effect.
According to Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider, left winger Justin Williams, who went down with a broken leg on Dec. 26, will be evaluated by a team doctor today and is hoping to get cleared for contact.
Williams, 28, has been skating for a little over a week and has reportedly looked pretty strong in practice.
If he is cleared for contact, it is up to him and Terry Murray when to get him back into the line-up.
I can't imagine any reason that either of the two would have any hesitations about wanting to get Williams back into a game as soon as possible.
There can't be anything more frustrating for a player to skate with the team in practice but watch the game from the sidelines.
And Murray certainly recognizes the need for some help at the forward position, as the Kings have struggled 5-on-5 as well as on the power play of late.
Hammond asked him today if he had any ideas about when Williams does come back, what the lines might look like. This is definitely a loaded question, as no Kings line has had the scoring proficiency that the Smyth-Kopitar-Williams line had at the beginning of the season:
MURRAY: “I’ve thought it through many times, many different pads of paper on which I’ve written down line combinations. I want to get him back on the right side with Kopitar and Smytty. That line was outstanding at the start. I look back at video, and he was tremendous with his play, especially in the offensive zone. That’s a chemistry that I would like to think can work again.”
Indeed, Terry, all Kings fans would like to think that. That line was one of the hottest lines in the NHL in the early goings of the 2009-10 season, and the chemistry was very responsible for Anze Kopitar leading the NHL in points at one point.
Should this top line get back together, the lines would probably look something like this:
The biggest question mark will be that second-line left winger alongside Stoll and Brown. I wouldn't mind seeing both Modin and Simmonds getting a shot at it, and I'm sure Frolov will be in the mix as well.
Let's hope that Willy is ready to go sooner than later, so we can right this ship and prepare for some post-season action for the first time at Staples Center since 2002.
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