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Kings Notebook (March 5)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Alexander Frolov has three goals and six assists in his last seven games.

The additions of forwards Jeff Halpern and Fredrik Modin this week don't guarantee success for the Kings, but they do give coach Terry Murray plenty to work with.

Halpern can play center and right wing, and can play with top-level skill players as well as grinders. Modin is known for a big slap shot, but his size allows him to be paired with bigger players in a defensive role just as easily.

Just a couple days after bringing the new players into the fold, Murray is in the process of figuring out what to do with them, but Murray made his first chess move in practice Friday by changing up his forward lines a bit.

The top line of Ryan Smyth, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown remained intact, but Brad Richardson moved up to play second-line left wing, as Jarret Stoll - who had been playing right wing - moved back to center and natural left winger Alexander Frolov moved to the right side.

Then there's the new guys. Halpern and Modin played together on the fourth line in Thursday's game against Nashville, but they got split in practice Friday as Murray went with a new look among his "bottom six" forwards.

On the third line, Michal Handzus will center Modin and Wayne Simmonds, giving the Kings a big line - heights of 6-3, 6-4 and 6-2, respectively - of strong defensive forwards to potentially match up against opponents' top forwards.

That leaves Murray with a pool - including Halpern, Rich Clune, Raitis Ivanans and Scott Parse - of fourth-line players, and based on practice Friday, it seems that a Parse-Halpern-Clune line is likely for Saturday's game against Montreal at STAPLES Center.

"I just felt, after last night, that I needed to make a few changes with our look," Murray said of the Kings' 4-2 loss to Nashville. "We started the right way. The first 10 minutes or so were good. We executed, we got the first goal of the game, but we gave up the tying goal and then we got a little unraveled from that point, not executing the right way.

"So this is a change for a change, maybe. It's a change to give a big body like Modin an opportunity to fit into a role where I see he has been playing the last couple years. It gives me a line that I feel very comfortable with, that can play against anybody in the league now, with three big bodies.

"I know, when I go back looking at Modin through Tampa Bay and even when he went to Columbus as an unrestricted free agent his first year, he had a tremendous year. He has a nice offensive side to his game. He's got a big shot that we want to take advantage of, and this hopefully will kind of get him settled in and bring that game out."

FRO ON FIRE

The Kings are moving Frolov over to the right, but hope he is able to maintain his strong play of late. In the two games since the Olympic break, Frolov has two goals and two assists and, moreover, has been a force around the net.

Going back through February, Frolov has three goals and six assists in his last seven games, and Murray said he's confident that a move to the right won't impact Frolov, and that it might actually help him.

"I used Fro on the right before the break," Murray said. "It happened during a game, and I liked what I saw. He can make that adjustment easily, and to be it opens up an opportunity for him to use his shot off the right side.

"On the left side, he ends up, quite often, delaying and finding weak-side D. He makes good plays from there, but this gives him an opportunity to use his shot coming down that side. That's what I'm hoping I can accomplish out of the change."

A LITTLE DIFFERENT

For the first time this season, the Kings will have their morning skate at STAPLES Center on Saturday, in order to take team pictures. The game against Montreal also has a 7 p.m. start time, as it is a "Hockey Night in Canada" broadcast. Speaking of Hockey Night in Canada, check out Wayne Simmonds interview on HNIC radio from this afternoon. Click here to listen now.
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