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Kings Gameday: Brain Dump

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Los Angeles Kings
@ Toronto Maple Leafs

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2010, 4:00 PM PST
Air Canada Centre

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I've been trying to write out how Terry Murray has tweaked the lines to find success the past two games. I can't find a good way to write it (probably because I'm a terrible writer) so I'm just going to put it in bullet-point form:

  • The top line has changed from Smyth-Kopitar-Whoever to Richardson-Kopitar-Simmonds. I like it for three reasons: one, it challenges Kopitar to create goals since he's paired with two players who go to the net (and he responded, having a hand in all 3 goals last game); two, I like the gumption a line shows when they're all kids. It's like they don't realize what they're not supposed to do.
  • The stopper line is now Frolov-Handzus-Parse. Michal Handzus always draws the toughest offensive assignment from the other team since he's all good and shit and he usually has either Wayne Simmonds or Alex Frolov to help him out. The emergence of Scott Parse as an OK player makes this line a pretty good stopper line. Nothing special, but good enough that the other team can't forget about it.
  • The other line is now Smyth-Stoll-Brown. This line is the wild card and shows that Terry Murray is pretty wily. When the Kings are on the road the other team has to commit one of their best lines to stop Anze Kopitar and the Kings are going to do whatever they can to ensure Michal Handzus is against their team's top line, so the other team is forced to put whatever they have left against Stoll's line. And it's a pretty good line. I think in the past couple games you've seen teams forced to adjust mid-game to counter Stoll's line and that has created more room for the other lines. Well played, Terry.
  • No one cares about the 4th line. Ivanans is back in. ...

  • Drew Doughty is awesome. Doughty has gotten the top defensive assignment all season, whether he's paired up with Sean O'Donnell or Rob Scuderi. Lately it's been Scuderi and the two have done a fantastic job. Assistant Coach Mark Hardy will also double-shift Doughty with Jack Johnson late in the game to prevent teams from sitting back and keying on Doughty. Here's a question: who do you take in a game you need to win tomorrow, Drew Doughty or Scott Niedermayer? Hmm...
  • Jack Johnson was demoted. Kinda. Mark Hardy has been playing Matt Greene with Sean O'Donnell as kind of an emergency defensive unit when Doughty isn't out there. Greene and O'Donnell don't play as many minutes as Johnson, but the minutes they play are tougher. Or maybe Hardy just thinks it's funny to watch them try and make a pass out of the zone, I'm not sure.
  • Peter Harrold is... good? Jack Johnson and Peter Harrold have been playing all the other minutes the past few games and they've been surprisingly decent. They've been scored on a few times but they've also created a few goals because Harrold hasn't been afraid to jump into the play. They're the beneficiaries of all the tough minutes the other two pairings are playing, but still, good on them for taking advantage of it.
  • Basically, watch tonight to see how Murray and Hardy control the game. They're going to roll their lines and force Ron Wilson to give them a bad match-up simply because the Kings are deeper than the Maple Leafs. (I mean, I think. I don't watch Leafs games because I don't hate myself.) Tonight's game is free thanks to a free preview of NHL Gamecenter so check that out. Or, you know, go to Google and find an illegal stream in like 2 minutes. I like this team the past two games and it's not just because they've won; I feel like the Kings have gone through the mid-season malaise and are ready to push for the playoffs. At least, I hope so.


    I got the following e-mail from the voluptuous Chad:

    Please tell me you didn't overlook this perfect, uncanny look-alike of Dustin Brown.


    For reference:

    Well done, sir, well done.

    Prediction: Kings win, 5-3. You laugh every time you see Dustin Brown.