EL SEGUNDO, Calif.
-- If ever a team has good reason to stick with a lineup after it surrendered 52 shots on goal, it's the Los Angeles Kings
Coach Terry Murray
changed three of his four lines prior to Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against San Jose, and it resulted in a 3-1 victory.
Despite making goalie Jonathan Quick
record a franchise playoff record 51 saves, the Kings actually were better off overall in part to balanced, two-way play by their forward group.
So why fix what's not broken?
"I will not change the lines right now, no," Murray said after Sunday’s practice.
Murray will continue to use Scott Parse
on a line with Michal Handzus
and Justin Williams
. Dustin Penner
has been dropped down with Jarret Stoll
and enforcer Kevin Westgarth
while Trevor Lewis
centers Ryan Smyth
and Dustin Brown
The one line intact is that of rookie Kyle Clifford
, Brad Richardson
and Wayne Simmonds
, who have turned out to be the story of the playoffs for L.A.
Clifford and Richardson lead the team with five points apiece and Simmonds has contributed a goal and two assists. But it's their play on both ends of the ice that have made them the most effective, with Clifford's grit, Richardson's veteran savvy combining with the speed of Simmonds.
Richardson said they developed chemistry playing together at the end of the regular season and recently discussed a desire to get on the scoreboard.
"We talked about it," Richardson said. "We were happy with our play, but we just wanted to get some more production. I think it was just a matter of getting an ugly goal – I think Cliffy got one in the second game – so I think that just kind of sparked us. But we've been playing well even before that. We felt like we were getting our chances."
Clifford is the biggest surprise. A few weeks ago he made news only for losing fights to Ryan Reaves
of St. Louis and Sheldon Brookbank
Clifford's three goals lead the Kings and he was the postseason’s top rookie goal scorer entering Sunday.
"The fact that you're looking at a young player, a rookie, putting some pucks into the back of the net, it really doesn't surprise me," Murray said. "It has happened in the history of the game when you have a player who's doing it who plays that hard game. He goes to the area that you have to go to to play at this time of the year. There's no reluctance, no hesitation in physical contact and paying a price in order to recover pucks. You get rewarded for that attitude."