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Insider Only Post-Game Notebook: Kings No. 1 line proving to be elite

Post-Game Notebook
Kings No. 1 line vs Penguins No. 1 Line
Being the home team and having the last change, Los Angeles Kings head coach Terry Murray took the opportunity to match his No. 1 line of Ryan Smyth – Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams against Pittsburgh’s top line of Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby and Bill Guerin.
The Kings top line held their own as Kopitar netted two goals and held Sidney Crosby pointless for the third straight game.
Head coach Terry Murray talked after the game how he’s looking for his top line to be elite.
“We’re looking for that line to be an elite line in the game,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “When you have that kind of expectation on you from a coaching staff, then there is a need to respond, and I’m seeing a more consistent effort that shows Kopitar wants to be that player.”
Kopitar leads the NHL in points and has 13 goals on the year. He didn’t score his 13th goal last year until after the All-Star break.
One of the main reasons for Kopitar’s breakout year is because of his linemates.
Ryan Smyth is the perfect kind of a winger for a top line center like Anze Kopitar. Justin Williams is also a good fit alongside Kopitar and Smyth.
The Kings finally have the look of a team that’s going to be a contender in the Western Conference.
Rough night for Eaton and Others
Defensemen Mark Eaton (-3), Brooks Orpik (-2) and Martin Skoula (-2) had a combined plus/minus rating of -7. It was a rough night for a number of players in the defensive zone.
Pittsburgh over-pursued in the D-zone on a number of goals and that was their main issue in giving up four third period goals.
2-3 players were following the puck carrier and leaving the slot wide open.
Coaching staff wants Fedotenko to shoot more
Ruslan Fedotenko has three goals on the season and is on pace for a 16 goal season. A disappointment by many but it shouldn’t be a shock. He’s only scored 20+ goals once in his career.
But, Fedotenko does have a dangerous shot and assistant coach Tony Granato has been urging Fedotenko to shoot more.
Inside The Numbers
10/3/09 vs NYI: 1 goal – 4 shots on goal
10/20/09 vs STL: 1 goal – 5 shots on goal
10/31/09 vs CLB: 1 goal – 4 shots on goal
*13 total shots in 3 games in which Fedotenko has scored.
*18 total shots in 13 games in which Fedotenko has been held without a goal.
Trade Rumblings
*The way Penguins general manager Ray Shero works is that he evaluates his team through the first 15-20 games, then explores what moves are needed.
Speaking of Fedotenko; On a one year deal Fedotenko is on a short-leash. Pittsburgh has been very pleased by the progress of Luca Caputi. The front office has him penciled into the lineup by January barring a major setback.
Caputi will have a strong chance to earn a spot alongside Evgnei Malkin. Regarding Fedotenko, the team will seriously consider

flipping him prior to the trade deadline for draft picks or prospects. This is a few months down the road but the team considered the same move prior to last years deadline.
The Kings for one would likely jump at the chance to bring in Fedotenko. They offered him a three year deal in the off-season.
If Fedotenko stays on his career pace which is likely, Pittsburgh will and should consider all options.
To play devils advocate, the cons of moving Fedotenko, even though he might walk at the end of the year, is that he is a solid contributor in the playoffs.
Observations
*Team officials continue to indicate that the team remains high on Chris Bourque and believe he has the potential to be a top two line player. I’m not buying it and the Bourque experiment will end very soon when the Penguins get healthier bodies in their lineup.
Just haven’t seen enough skills out of him even in practice and in games, he doesn’t have the strength to win the needed battles on the boards.
*The flu bug has been following the Penguins around dating back to Pascal Dupuis last week. At least two players are believed to be playing through an illness.
*The decision to scratch Tyler Kennedy was made about 90 minutes before the game. Kennedy (groin) didn’t feel right after the morning skate.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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