Frozen Royalty: Solid Production From Second Line In Early Going
The Matsuda Train is finally parked at Staples Center for the bulk of the season and Frozen Royalty is getting back to regularly scheduled programming. Here is Gann’s report on secondary scoring complete with quotes from the team. Enjoy!
LOS ANGELES AND EL SEGUNDO, CA — As they have struggled on the power play, scoring just one goal in 16 times shorthanded through the first four games of their 2010-11 National Hockey League season, and with star center Anze Kopitar off to a slow start with just three assists in the four games, the Los Angeles Kings have had to find offense from a somewhat unexpected source.
Going into the new season, question marks were everywhere regarding the Kings’ second line, featuring Jarret Stoll centering Ryan Smyth on left wing and Justin Williams on right wing. But with Williams arguably being their best forward to this point in the young season, the line has combined for six goals and they have consistently generated quality scoring chances using strong forechecking and going hard to the front of the net—two things the team’s first line has not done quite as well.
“[The] Stoll line was, maybe, our better line out there tonight again, head coach Terry Murray said following his team’s 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on October 15. “They were really pursuing the puck. They had good pressure, a lot of composure [and they were] making plays. They made good decisions through the middle of the ice and ended up scoring.”
The Stoll line was also the key in a 3-1 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on October 12, scoring two goals, one of them showcasing the chemistry building between the line mates.
On the play, Smyth threw a pass to Stoll on right wing in the neutral zone. He entered the Atlanta zone with speed and from the right circle, fired a wrist shot that was deflected near the point of contact, beating Thrashers goaltender Chris Mason.
“You know what made that play? [The puck] came around the wall and Justin Williams was talking to me the whole way,” Smyth noted. “‘You’ve got time, you’ve got time.’”
“As a player, when your back’s turned to the play and you hear that, that’s good communication and it goes a long way,” Smyth added.
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