Training Camp Report Sept. 13
With the Kings first scrimmage on Tuesday, it is never too early to start taking a look line combinations and defensive pairings.
The first group skated like this:
Smyth - Kopitar - Williams
Clifford - Schenn - Kozun
Maxwell - Elkins - Segal
Clune - Harrold - Westgarth
Johnson - Scuderi
Teubert - Hickey
Two of these lines could very well come to light as the seasons begins, Ryan Smyth, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams will have first crack at the Kings top line and generating chemistry early in camp must be a priority.
"That line that I had together today, I like what I see on paper," Head coach Terry Murray said of the Kings top line of Smyth, Kopitar and Williams. "I am hoping a good chemistry can develop throughout the training camp. I want to keep them together throughout the camp and exhibition games.
"That line is going to have to be a big part of it and Kopi in particular is going to have to have a big bite of this hockey club."
Rich Clune, Peter Harrold and Kevin Westgarth could see playing time on the Kings fourth line this season. Harrold a center/seventh defenseman hybrid, played in 69 games last season at both positions scoring 4-8=12. Westgarth made his NHL debut a year ago and skated in nine games, posting nine PIMs, while adding 165 PIMs in 65 games at Manchester. He is challenging for time on the roster as the Kings enforcer. Clune is an interesting prospect, an extreme agitator on the ice, he returned from injury to collect 87 PIMs in just 35 games with Manchester last season.
The Jack Johnson/Rob Scuderi offering could very well start the season on the back end.
"Jack’s certainly got a lot of talent. It doesn’t take a long time around him to be able to see some of the skills that he has," Scuderi said. "So hopefully, we were just talking a lot today, getting a feeling for what he likes to say in certain situations, where I’ll be, just get some communication going before the season starts because it’s something that you want to have in place before your first game instead of trying to figure it out 10 games in."
In Group 2, with Jarret Stoll unable to take the ice on the first day of camp, Oscar Moller filled in as the center on the Kings second line with Dustin Brown and Teddy Purcell. The lines skated like this:
Purcell - Moller - Brown
Holloway - Azevedo - McCauley
King - Walker - Pelech
Ivanans - Richardson - Zeiler
Campbell - Voynov
Piskula - Doczy
Drewiske - Greene
The fourth line could also emerge as the Kings fourth line to start the season, with the speedy Brad Richardson centering for incumbent enforcer Raitis Ivanans, and high-energy grinder John Zeiler. On defense, the interesting pairing is Davis Drewiske and Matt Greene.
Drewiske talked about his play to reporters following his workout.
"It is a big step and one that I was ready for," Drewiske said of his debut last season. "I have gotten some great coaching here from the staff, especially Mike O’Connell, working with us down in Manchester on the defensive side of the game and how to read and react. I think it was a good first year I got a lot of confidence going into this season."
Drewiske paired with Greene, could form a strong defensive line.
"I like to consider myself a defensive guy first," he said. "I can jump in on offense when I am needed or jump on the power play if there is an injury or something, but I just always consider myself a defensive guy first."
In group three, the pairings went like this:
Frolov - Handzus - Simmonds
Gauthier - Lewis - Vey
Nolan - Loktionov - Mikus
Cliché - Meckler - Parse
Doughty - O’Donnell
Martinez - Mullen
Deslausiers - Gudas
In this grouping, arguably the Kings best line from a year ago, the third line of Alexander Frolov, Michal Handzus and Wayne Simmonds skated together as a unit as did the defensive pairing from a year ago of Sean O’Donnell and Drew Doughty.
For the most part the club’s roster is set, with some possible tinkering going forward and a few spots up for grabs.
"We are looking at a couple positions on this hockey club," Murray said. "I am really excited about the way things solidified last year a lot of the young guys stepped up and really took a big piece of the team. We are going to stick with them, I believe in them and I trust them."
THE DOTS ARE BACK
Last year, Murray had four dots painted on the ice as his home plate, reinforcing amongst the players the idea of getting back on defense and protecting the Kings net. The results were apparent throughout the season, as the Kings finished 11th in the NHL in 2008-09 with a goals-against average of 2.76 per game and the Kings penalty kill finished seventh in the NHL in 2008-09 with a kill rate of 82.9 percent (300- for-362)
"For our team and for myself, it is defense first," said Drewiske. "We protect our own net and defend. That is the first thing you worry about."
SCUDERI CHOOSES DISNEYLAND OVER THE WHITE HOUSE
On Sept. 10, the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins visited President Barack Obama and the White House for ceremony honoring the Pens Stanley Cup Championship.
Former Penguin Rob Scuderi was unable to attend, instead going to Disneyland.
"It was my daughter’s birthday on the eighth and Disneyland did take precedence over the president for probably the first time in history," Scuderi said.
Jarret Stoll, a late scratch from the start of training camp due to arthritis in his right wrist, spoke to the media to give an update on his status.
"By no means do I expect to miss the start of the season. That hasn’t even entered my mind," he said. "It’s gotten better every day and I think I’ll probably be playing next week."
Stoll is hoping to begin playing next week.
Stoll finished his first season as the No. 2 center in LA tied for fourth on the Kings with 18 goals and ranked fifth on the team with 41 points. He was second on the team with 10 power-play goals and ranked seventh in the NHL with a 57.2 faceoff winning percentage.