Sec­ond lines aren’t con­nected

Los Angeles Times - - Morning Briefing - HELENE EL­LIOTT helene.el­liott@latimes.com twit­ter.com/he­le­nenothe­len

Slap shots

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.

Chris­tian Petersen

KINGS: Justin Wil­liams says wins will be de­pen­dent on the sec­ond line.

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