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Posted On Sunday, 04.24.2011 / 7:44 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: San Jose-Los Angeles Live Blog

Less pressure on Penner

Murray said dropping Penner to a lower line was largely done to take some defensive responsibility off him.

"Right now with Pens I think that the matchup right now is important," Murray said. "I'm giving him the opportunity here to back away on having to shut down a (Joe) Thornton line, the checking part of the game. He's capable. But the game is just not there right now so with a different look it's an opportunity to get your game together … maybe certainly not the same stress coming at him as a Thornton line."
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Posted On Sunday, 04.24.2011 / 7:10 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: San Jose-Los Angeles Live Blog

Murray not ready to tinker with Kings' lines

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 of Anaheim.

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."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.13.2011 / 6:44 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: San Jose-Los Angeles Live Blog

Williams ready to go for Game 1

According to Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider, Justin Williams declared himself good to go for the start of the Sharks-Kings quarterfinal series.

The Los Angeles Kings winger said that he will "probably" make a decision on his status today as he continues to work back from a dislocated shoulder.

Williams practiced Tuesday and was seen taking contact in the corners and participating in drills, although he wore a gray jersey designated for injured players and was not part of the line rushes.

He said he would later talk to coach Terry Murray and stopped short of saying he was ready to play Game 1 of the Kings' opening round series against San Jose on Thursday.
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Quote of the Day

Great players need great players to play with. That's why we'll have a training camp and we'll find who the best two guys are suited to play with Stamkos.

— Tampa Bay Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness on Steven Stamkos' potential linemates for the 2014-15 season