Dancing in the Reign: The Terry Murray Shuffle
Trent Hunter will be alongside Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown on the first line tonight.
The Kings lineup has undergone complete revamp for tonight’s date with the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center:
Dustin Brown – Anze Kopitar –
Simon Gagne – Mike Richards – Jarret Stoll
Kyle Clifford – Andrei Loktionov – Justin Williams
Ethan Moreau – Colin Fraser – Kevin Westgarth
Shuffled up: If there’s one common aspect shown throughout Terry Murray‘s coaching tenure in Los Angeles, it’s his tendency to make changes in the Kings’ lineup scheme. These changes, which we’ve seen very often the past couple of years, are due to a lack of consistency in Murray’s offensive sets. He’s had little success in maintaining groups that mesh for extended periods of time, which is hard to analyze with the high level of talent he’s working with.
This is why I’ve spent the majority of the season considering how this club could perform under a different helm, there’s simply too much skill among these forwards for such a lack of production and stability. It’s one thing to have an attractive roster on paper, knowing what to do with that roster is just as vital. I truly believe Terry Murray has hit a wall with the Kings, and that the organization’s output is in need of a different direction.
Top-line Hunter: That’s right, let it settle in. Trent Hunter, who I question even being on the Kings roster, will be promoted to the first line at the right wing slot. In 11 games this season, Hunter has recorded two assists, 15 shots, and 24 hits. Hunter will provide little in this role, and it probably won’t last very long at all. You’re basically putting a bad Dustin Brown on a line that has Dustin Brown on it – and he’s struggling himself. Not only that, Brown is moving to the left wing which isn’t his primary position, but did play on the left side a few times last season.
That Fourth Line: Is brutal, no questions asked. Why Murray feels the need to ice an enforcer in Kevin Westgarth has troubled me for quite some time. There is less and less need for heavyweights in the NHL these days, protection of vital players isn’t completely necessary, especially when you’re surrendering a roster spot to another player who’s got some offensive capabilities – certainly not Westgarth.
Let’s talk worthless play and stupid penalties while we’re at it, let’s talk Ethan Moreau. He doesn’t provide any positive worth to this team. Let’s stop talking about Ethan Moreau. Sadly, Colin Fraser is the only player on Murray’s 4th line that I see fit and worthy of dressing – that’s not saying much.
Brad Richardson and Trevor Lewis > Ethan Moreau and Kevin Westgarth – regardless of their point production.
In the Stolldrums
Position Swap: Two players will be put to the test in different roles tonight, but not unfamiliar. Andrei Loktionov, a natural centerman, will get the opportunity to showcase himself between Kyle Clifford and Justin Williams on the third line. This grouping may be the most intriguing new-look line Terry Murray has assembled. You’ve got Loktionov, who’s been decent at the left wing position, back to his comfort zone with two forwards who are in desperate need of production. Williams has been without a goal since October 27th, Clifford’s lone tally came back on October 20th. If you’re looking for revitalization, look for some production from this 3rd line set.
The other player changing positions is Jarret Stoll, moving from center to right wing, now playing with Simon Gagne and Mike Richards on the 2nd line. This could be a positive change as well, but you’re doing away with Stoll’s faceoff abilities. Stoll is struggling mightily this season, and notched his first goal since October 18th Saturday night. With just 2 goals and 5 assists on the season, Stoll could benefit from this change. Gagne and Richards will maintain movement and strong possession, Stoll needs to help in that department and hound on loose pucks. He’s got the shot, that’s for sure.
This guy needs some support
This guy needs to do something
Preferrably not this
Credit Puck Daddy for the find
Speaking of finding things, if Terry Murray‘s lineup changes don’t find some steady offensive output, he soon may need to find another job. Go Kings.