"The Kings are keeping many of the big names at home tonight for the STAPLES Center half of the team’s pair of split-squad exhibition games.
The top line playing tonight could very well be the one that Kings fans see during the regular season. The Kings newest addition, gritty left winger Ryan Smyth, will be paired with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams. Kopitar and Williams played together at the end of the season, just as Williams was coming out of his shell after joining the Kings at the trade deadline. Kopitar scored 66 points (27-39=66) in 82 games in 2008-09, five of those in the last 10 games of the year while playing on a line with Williams. With the addition of Smyth, known for his excellence in crashing the net and scoring gritty goals, the line should flourish.
Kings head coach Terry Murray said on the first day of training camp that he was confident in the line pairings at that early stage, hoping to keep the top line together through camp and the pre-season. Two of Murray’s areas of focus are Kopitar taking charge of his game and the team scoring more goals in five on five situations. The combination of Kopitar, Smyth and Williams creates what may end up being an effective combination of crease-crashing, work along the boards and finesse play.
Smyth will be looking to find his rhythm with Kopitar and Williams tonight, while the other newest King Rob Scuderi is testing his defensive pairing with Jack Johnson. Just as Sean O’Donnell provided an "on-ice mentor" to Drew Doughty this season, Scuderi and Johnson may prove to be a complimentary combination of veteran stay-at-home blue liner and young offensive defenseman.
Another defensive pair seeing ice time at STAPLES tonight is that of Thomas Hickey and Colten Teubert, two former first round draft picks in 2007 and 2008. While the young defensemen have never played in league competition together before, they were paired together on Team Canada in the 2009 World Junior Tournament where they took home the gold medal. Although circumstances make it unlikely that both Hickey and Teubert will make the Kings official roster, this could be the Kings’ power combo in the near future.
Tonight there will be just one goalie in net at STAPLES Center for the Kings, one who has seen time in just four NHL games. Jonathan Bernier, the Kings first round draft pick in 2006, is expected to play the full 60 minutes tonight in front of the home town crowd.
Tonight Kings fans in attendance at STAPLES Center will see a third line comprised of true rookies, including 2009 first round draft pick (5th overall) Brayden Schenn, second round pick (35th overall) Kyle Clifford, and off-season acquisition Juraj Mikus.
Brown will not be playing in tonight's game and Stoll is still out recovering from an arthritic condition. As a result, Purcell will play with Oscar Moller, who has seen time this training camp with Brown and Purcell and the young and talented Andrei Loktionov, a name Kings fans should get to know."
"In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened." - Vin Scully being clairvoyant in 1988.
The Los Angeles Kings - 2012 Stanley Cup Champions