-- After two games, and two goals scored, coach Terry Murray decided to shake up his forwards a bit during practice Monday afternoon, in advance of Tuesday night’s home opener against Atlanta at STAPLES Center.
Rookie forward Andrei Loktionov
, who had been a healthy scratch in the first two games, played left wing on a line with center Anze Kopitar
and winger Dustin Brown
Ryan Smyth moved down to the second line to skate with Jarret Stoll
and Justin Williams
, while the third line of Alexei Ponikarovsky, Michal Handzus and Wayne Simmonds remained intact. The fourth line is expected to consist of center Brayden Schenn and wingers Brad Richardson
and Kevin Westgarth
For Murray, the moves were about seeing what Loktionov can add to the mix.
``It's a young guy who has come through the training camp and played well for us,’’ Murray said. ``We really like the puck skills that he shows, and the management of the puck and looks that he generates in the offensive zone. It's an opportunity for him.
``It's all about him and how he played through the training camp. There's nothing else. It's not about Ryan Smyth. It's all about this young guy getting an opportunity to play with one of our best players, maybe our best player, in Kopitar. Hopefully he can just continue with what he did in the training camp.’’
A natural center,20-year-old Loktionov had an outstanding training camp and certainly has some offensive skill. Two years ago, he had 24 goals in 51 games with his junior team and last season he had 24 points in 29 games with Manchester of the AHL.
So while playing left wing will be a bit of an adjustment -- Loktionov said he has played only five games on the wing, maximum, in his career -- Murray wants to get a look.
``I like him in the middle of the ice,’’ Murray said, ``because he's a very skilled player who handles the puck and makes plays, but playing with Kopitar on the left side, when you do get in the offensive zone, there are a lot of reads that they make off each other, so you're not in a fixed position at that time. I hope that he has the puck on his stick as much as what we saw in the training camp.’’
Loktionov said the the move to wing would be ``much different’’ and noted that he would have to be mindful of his positioning on the ice in the defensive zone, but had a wide smile when talking about playing on a line with Kopitar.
``I like playing with him,’’ Loktionov said. ``He is always, with the puck, dangerous, and I always have to be ready for a pass.’’INJURY UPDATE Matt Greene
, who underwent shoulder surgery in mid-July, has been off the ice for a few days because of what Murray called a case of ``lace bite,’’ a painful condition often related to the fit (or lack thereof) of a new pair of skates.Scott Parse
, who injured his groin during the first preseason game, is still off the ice.IMPRESSIVE START
With every strong effort, Schenn takes a step closer to staying in the NHL.
After Schenn plays his ninth NHL game, the Kings must decide whether to keep him or return him to his junior team this season. So far, Schenn has impressed.
Schenn played 14 minutes, 23 seconds, in Saturday’s season opener at Vancouver, then played 14:03 in Sunday’s game at Calgary. Schenn had a couple quality scoring chances at even strength and was also a part of the Kings’ power-play unit.
``I really like what Schenn has done in the first two games,’’ Murray said. ``The first one in Vancouver, I thought he was outstanding. He showed great composure. No nervousness whatsoever in the first game of the season, which kind of caught me a little bit. I thought maybe something would be there, but he was composed, he made plays, he competed, he had great scoring opportunities.
``He makes little plays happen in the offensive zone. He's going to be a really top player in the game. He plays that skill game, along with some grit and edge to it, so as he matures he's going to be a dynamic guy for us.’’MOVING ON UP
The Kings announced two front-office ``transactions’’ on Monday afternoon.
Luc Robitaille, who has served as team president, business operations, for the past three-plus years, has signed a multi-year extension.
Chris McGowan has been promoted to chief operation officer. McGowan, who has been with the organization since 1996, most recently served as senior vice president, business operations and chief marketing officer.LOOKING AHEAD
The Kings will have their morning skate at 10 a.m. tomorrow, at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, then play Atlanta in the home opener at 7:30 p.m.