Second lines aren’t connected
Finding an effective second line has been a primary concern during training camp for the Kings and the Ducks.
Each has a formidable first line with the requisite doses of size, skill and muscle. For the Kings, it’s Anze Kopitar centering for Ryan Smyth and — for now — Dustin Brown. For the Ducks, it’s Ryan Getzlaf, recovered from the ankle injury he suffered in February, centering for Corey Perry and, most recently, Matt Beleskey.
Each team has strong third-line personnel, with the Kings using Alexei Ponikarovsky on the left of Michal Handzus and Wayne Simmonds, while the Ducks deploy center Saku Koivu with Jason Blake and a rotating cast on the other wing. Both teams have worthy candidates for fourth-line, grinding roles.
But the second line hasn’t crystallized for either team, prompting both to experiment with different elements. Something will have to click fast: Including their exhibition matchup Tuesday at Staples Center, each has three games left to find a solution.
For the Kings, the right answer could be the difference between making the playoffs and making lots of noise in the playoffs.
“When you see Stanley Cup-winning teams, you go down the line and say they had a hell of a team,” said right wing Justin Williams, limited by injuries last season to 10 goals in 49 games. “That’s what we want this team to be, where you say, ‘Wow, they had those guys on the second line? That’s awesome.’
“We’re looking for career years. We’re looking for a lot of success from our second line. Wins are going to be dependent on us a lot.”
Williams has been on the right side with Scott Parse on the left and Jarret Stoll at center. Brad Richardson has replaced Parse the last few days while Parse deals with toe and groin injuries.
“We’ve taken it upon ourselves to get as prepared as we can and work as hard as we can and make sure we do the job an NHL second line should,” said Williams, who shares the team preseason scoring lead with a goal and two points in two games.
Stoll, no longer taking medication for the arthritis that plagued him early last season, spent the summer working on fundamental drills, including lots of shooting.
“You look to your first two lines to provide offense every night, and if not offense, at least scoring chances and opportunities and offensive-zone time,” he said. “I’m proud to welcome that challenge.”
Richardson feels the same responsibility.
“It’s going to be a huge key if we can score some goals and take some pressure off the first line,” he said.
Stoll, who played in two of three games for the Kings (1-1-1), will sit out Tuesday, creating a spot for rookie Brayden Schenn to move up from the fourth line and show his versatility.
The Ducks (2-2) shouldn’t have trouble scoring. But with an iffy defense they might need every goal they get in order to be competitive.
Coach Randy Carlyle has moved 6-foot-2, 218-pound winger Bobby Ryan to center to better use Ryan’s bulk and skill. Teemu Selanne is his usual right wing with the left side changing.
The results for Ryan have been mixed. He won only eight of 20 face offs and was minus-two defensively in his first exhibition appearance, though he scored a power-play goal. In his second game he was minus one with two shots, no points and a 6-3 faceoff record. “It’s just a learning curve,” he said last week.
A process the Ducks hope he can master quickly.
The Kings assigned forward Oscar Moller and defensemen Andrew Campbell, Johan Fransson and Alec Martinez to Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League.
Also Manchester-bound but injured are forwards Ray Kaunisto and MarcAndre Cliche and defensemen Viacheslav Voynov and Colten Teubert.
The Kings still have eight defensemen, with Thomas Hickey battling Jake Muzzin for the last spot. Both are in Tuesday’s lineup. “I like Muzzin’s game. I don’t know him that well and he’s come in with the right attitude, in great shape,” Coach Terry Murray said. “He’s a big-body guy. On the other side, Hickey is the opposite kind of player. He’s a puckpossession, sees-the-ice, moves-the-puck, powerplay guy that has to be real good in those special team areas in order to crack that spot.”
Goaltender Jonathan Quick is scheduled to start Tuesday and one of the last two games…. Ducks de-fenseman Toni Lydman (double vision) continues off-ice workouts but no timetable has been set for his debut.
DUCKS: Bobby Ryan is undergoing a learning curve at center.
KINGS: Justin Williams says wins will be dependent on the second line.