TAMPA — Mike Richards? None. Anze Kopitar? None. Jarret Stoll? None. Colin Fraser? None.
That would be a grand total of no goals from the Kings' centers. Even Trevor Lewis, who has shifted over to that position of late, has not scored.
It's an area of concern, naturally. Imagine how major it would loom if the Kings were not on a three-game winning streak.
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter came up with something intriguing Monday afternoon during practice at Tampa Bay Times Forum. He put his two leading scorers, Kopitar and right wing Jeff Carter, on a line with left wing Dwight King. Kopitar has five assists in six games and Carter has four goals and one assist.
This meant dismantling, for the moment, a favored combination, Richards and Carter. Richards is now centering left wing Dustin Brown and right wing Justin Williams. Brown and Williams have both scored twice.
Sutter, of course, downplayed the tinkering in regard to Kopitar and Carter, noting that they've played together quite a bit on the power play
"If you look at minutes by lines, it’s pretty significant the difference in your top four guys, Williams, Kopi, Richie and Jeff, the minutes they play compared to everybody else," Sutter said.
It might be enough of a subtle twist to get Kopitar on a goal-scoring run. He may not be scoring but he has been his usual responsible self at both ends and set up Williams on a terrific give-and-go Sunday against the Florida Panthers.
"It’s not going to change a lot," Kopitar said. "That’s what it is. With Carts, no disrespect to my old linemates, we’ll have a little bit more speed on the wing. Other than that, he (Carter) is a shooter. Brownie’s a shooter.
"The combo is about the same. Big body in Kinger (Dwight King), like Brownie. Playmaker and shooter in Justin. Again, I don’t think it’s going to change a whole lot. Sometimes mixing it up is a welcome change.
The chemistry between Richards and Carter is undeniable.
"Richie and Carts have played with each other for a long time," Kopitar said. "Obviously, they’ve come through in a big way most of the time. So it’s kind of tough to break them up. I guess we’re going to give it a try now."
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