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KINGS REPORT

Smolinski Moves to Line With Palffy and Stumpel

November 16, 2000|JIM HODGES

Center Bryan Smolinski spent the third period Saturday night on the bench, banished because of poor play, watching the Kings rally to a 2-2 tie with Detroit.

Tuesday he reported for practice to find that he was a winger on the Kings' top-scoring line, with Ziggy Palffy and center Jozef Stumpel.

He was back there Wednesday and will be there tonight when the Kings play host to the New York Islanders.

"If it works, we're going to go with it," said Smolinski, who played winger on a line with Palffy when both were with the Islanders and Robert Reichel was the center.

"I knew what they did," he said of the Reichel-Palffy combination. "I have to learn what Ziggy and Stumpy do and try to carve out a place for myself."

That place probably will be in the corners and near the net, handling the heavy lifting. And it will be on defense. Then again, that's Smolinski's place, no matter who his line partners are.

"Bryan has skill, he has speed and he has grit," Coach Andy Murray said. "One of the things that people have said about our top six [forwards] is that we didn't have a lot of grit.

"I think with Bryan and Luc Robitaille and Glen Murray, we have grit on those two lines. . . . How well this works, I think, depends on how Bryan accepts it."

The move is also an attempt to try to jump-start Smolinski offensively. He has only three goals, all scored on the power play. When Stumpel ended his holdout, he replaced Smolinski on the No. 1 power play, and when Smolinski was supplanted by rookie center Steve Reinprecht on the second line, more offensive opportunities diminished.

But Saturday night's play was the capper. Smolinski had no shots on net and lost eight of 10 faceoffs.

"I think everything I've gone through these last couple of weeks caught up with me," said Smolinski, who in the last two weeks has made four trans-continental plane trips in conjunction with the birth of his daughter.

Smolinski's move means other lines will be reshuffled, with Ian Laperriere moving back to center, flanked by wingers Stu Grimson and Craig Johnson, who had been scratched for eight of the last nine games.

*

Rookie center Tomas Vlasak was sent to Lowell of the AHL along with goalie Marcel Cousineau. Goalie Travis Scott was brought up to back up Jamie Storr.

Vlasak has a one-way contract worth $500,000 this season. That means he will be paid NHL wages at Lowell. The move was to get him playing time.

"Lowell plays six games in the next 10 days, and he was only getting about nine or 10 minutes here," Murray said.

SUMMARY

vs. N.Y. Islanders, 7:30 p.m.

Fox Sports Net

* Site--Staples Center.

* Radio--KRLA (1110).

* Records--Kings 9-6-4-0, Islanders 6-6-2-1.

* Record vs. Islanders--1-0.

* Update--The Kings were 4-1 winners at Uniondale, N.Y., on Nov. 5. The Islanders haven't scored in 139 minutes 35 seconds and were shut out by Buffalo and San Jose in their last two games. They are also 0 for 22 on the power play. They have brought up former King Mathieu Biron, a 6-foot-7, 229-pound defenseman from Lowell. He is the only player left with New York from the four-player trade 19 months ago that brought Palffy, Smolinski and Cousineau to the Kings.

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