Kings left wing Dustin Penner will be playing alongside new linemates Saturday… (Kirby Lee / U.S. Presswire )
Not pleased with his team's cohesion in Thursday's 3-1 loss at Vancouver, Kings Coach Terry Murray shuffled his lines at Friday's practice, moving left wing Dustin Penner to a line with center Michal Handzus and right wing Dustin Brown.
The other lines were Ryan Smyth-Jarrett Stoll-Oscar Moller, Alexei Ponikarovsky-Trevor Lewis-Kevin Westgarth and Kyle Clifford-Brad Richardson-Wayne Simmonds.
"We're shaking things up," Murray said. "I thought in the last game we got away from executing the way we have for quite a while. We broke away from our structure, got away from playing with each other. When that happens, it's a little complacency setting in."
Penner has struggled of late, having gone seven games without a point and eight games without a goal. He didn't take a shot in 12:58 of ice time Thursday night.
"It's a case of hard work with him, but also smart work," Murray said of Penner, who was acquired from Edmonton at the Feb. 28 trade deadline. "He needs to pick up the tempo. There's something to be said for adapting to a new team and a new system, and I'm aware of that. He needs more repetition in practice so that it becomes more of an instinctive game for him."
Murray also likes the combination of Moller and Smyth playing alongside center Stoll. "This is a great opportunity for Oscar to play with another guy [Smyth] who has great awareness in the offensive zone, and it also gives us speed in the middle."
Two of the three defensive pairings also changed. Rookie Alec Martinez and Matt Greene will stay together, but Rob Scuderi will play with Drew Doughty, and Willie Mitchell will reunite with Jack Johnson.
One area Murray won't tamper with is in goal, reaffirming that Jonathan Quick "is our No. 1 guy" and will start Saturday's game against Dallas at Staples Center. Any combination of three Kings wins and/or Dallas losses will clinch a playoff spot for the Kings.
Handzus is OK
An anxious moment occurred in the third period when Handzus slammed into the end boards and was slow to get up after an awkward collision with Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome and winger Jeff Tambellini. Handzus played the remainder of the game without missing a shift.
"It was scary because you know you're going to hit the boards at a high speed," he said. "I'm fine. I didn't hit my shoulder or my head, so that's good."
The NHL meted out no further punishment to Clifford, who was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for checking Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev from behind in the third period.