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Kings coach Sutter to reunite Brown with Kopitar

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown has long known that center Anze Kopitar is a worthy candidate for the Selke Trophy. He'll get a reminder of that Thursday when he's reunited with Kopitar.

Brown was back with Kopitar on the top line, with Marian Gaborik at left wing, at the Kings morning skate. Coach Darryl Sutter normally doesn't address such changes, but he confirmed there will be one wrinkle when the Kings try to avoid a sweep by the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round series at Staples Center (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, CSN-CA, FS-W).

"Hopefully it gives [us] a little size and power," Sutter said. "That line, I think, when we play against [San Jose center Joe] Thornton, we've had trouble with his size and [right wing Brent] Burns and Thornton, quite honest. To answer it the best, we've talked to players and coaches about very much staying [with] seven defensemen, 11 forwards, so we need guys moving around."

Brown and Kopitar were longtime linemates and a cornerstone of the Kings on the 2012 Stanley Cup champion team. Sutter took a struggling Brown off the top line early this season.

"He’s probably one of the harder guys to get the puck off of because of his size and skill," Brown said of Kopitar. "That allows me to just get to the net and open up space for him. When I'm playing, I've just got to focus on driving the net and getting around the net, because with [Gaborik] and [Kopitar], they'll be able to handle the puck and the pressure. When they get it to the net, it's my job to be there."

Kopitar was named a finalist Thursday for the Selke, which recognizes the best defensive forward in the NHL. It was something of a formality given his widely recognized season. He is the first Kings player to get the nomination.

"It's really nice to be nominated, obviously," Kopitar said. "But right now it's not the time to think about that. I'll think about that when it's all said and done."

Kopitar missed out on being a finalist last season, when he was fourth in the voting. He was ninth in 2011 and 2012.

"I'd say it's about time," Brown said. "I see him every day, so it's pretty evident. It's why he is the best 200-foot player we have by a long shot. Everybody made a big deal last year about how he didn't score for 20 games, but he also shut down everyone else in the League for 20 games. I think a byproduct of what he's done in his career and his path … I'm happy for him to finally get some recognition from a League-wide standpoint."

Here are the projected lineups. For the Kings, the indication was Sutter will dress seven defensemen but it's not certain which forward would be scratched as a result.


Marian GaborikAnze KopitarDustin Brown

Tanner PearsonJeff CarterTyler Toffoli

Dwight KingJarret StollJustin Williams

Kyle CliffordMike RichardsTrevor Lewis

Jake MuzzinDrew Doughty

Robyn RegehrSlava Voynov

Willie MitchellAlec Martinez

Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick

Martin Jones

Scratched: Colin Fraser, Jordan Nolan


Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Matt Nieto

Tomas Hertl - James Sheppard - Tommy Wingels

Raffi Torres - Andrew Desjardins - Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Jason Demers

Brad Stuart - Justin Braun

Scott Hannan - Dan Boyle

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

Scratched: Matt Irwin, Matt Tennyson, Marty Havlat, Bracken Kearns, Tyler Kennedy

Injured: Adam Burish (hand)

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