ST. LOUIS -- Kings Coach Darryl Sutter reunited the line of Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams in Thursday’s morning skate while preparing for tonight's Game 2 of the team’s first-round playoff series against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center.
Sutter had said Wednesday he wouldn’t put the trio back together but later changed his mind. “I didn’t like the way our left wingers matched up the other night,” he said
Sutter also restored Colin Fraser to the center spot on the fourth line but left the defense pairs the same as they were for the Kings’ 2-1 overtime loss in Game 1. That means Matt Greene is expected to be scratched again.
Based on the morning skate, the lines will be Brown-Kopitar-Williams; Dwight King-Mike Richards-Jeff Carter; Dustin Penner-Jarret Stoll-Trevor Lewis, and Kyle Clifford-Fraser-Jordan Nolan. The defense pairs were Robyn Regehr-Drew Doughty; Rob Scuderi-Slava Voynov, and Jake Muzzin-Keaton Ellerby.
Another possible reason for reuniting the Brown-Kopitar-Williams line is the comfort factor it might provide for Kopitar, who has not scored a goal in 17 games.
“We played, what, 46 games together. So definitely familiar territory,” Kopitar said. “In a short time, like it is in the playoffs, it’s always nice.”
And maybe the familiarity with those wingers will get Kopitar going.
“It would be nice,” said Kopitar, who played most of Game 1 between Jeff Carter on the right and either Clifford or Penner on the left. “It’s not that the other guys were not trying to get me to score. I’ve got to put it on myself a little bit, too, to shoot a little more and be a little bit more aggressive. It’s definitely not just the other guys.”
Brown said he had no doubt that Kopitar’s production will pick up.
“He’ll be fine,” Brown said. “Everyone’s talking about the line combos, but after Game 1 it’s not about getting individuals going. It’s about getting a win. They switched it back to a more normal look for what we’ve seen over the last year probably.
“At the end of the day it doesn’t matter who you’re playing with. It’s about your work ethic.”
Fraser said he will be expected to add physical play to the lineup and follow the lead set by the Blues’ effective fourth line of Adam Cracknell, Chris Porter and Ryan Reaves.
“I try and fill a role as best I can,” he said. “An energy role, fourth-line role, much like their line did in the first game. And our line’s going to have to counter that tonight and be just as good as they were.”
Greene played four games after returning from back surgery but missed the regular-season finale because of an undisclosed injury. The veteran defenseman has been able to practice but has been unable to crack the lineup again. Keaton Ellerby replaced Greene and appears to be holding onto that spot.
Greene said he’s fine physically. “Feeling good. Doing great,” he said.
He said he didn’t expect to play but was told to be prepared. “Just be ready and keep working with the trainers,” he said of what he had been instructed. “I’ve just got to be ready. That’s it.”