TAMPA, Fla. — It may not last more than one afternoon in practice or it could be an enduring partnership, but at the very least the combination of center Anze Kopitar and right wing Jeff Carter is an intriguing idea.
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter acted like the decision to put Kopitar and Carter on a line with left wing Dwight King at practice Monday afternoon was no big deal.
But that's often Sutter's way. You might only know he likes it if he uses the word "awesome."
There is that potential, the Kings' two leading scorers working together on a consistent basis. Kopitar has five assists in six games and Carter has four goals and one assist.
Mike Richards, Kopitar, Jarret Stoll and Colin Fraser are all centers for the Kings and they have combined for a grand total of … no goals.
It's an area of concern, naturally. Imagine how major it would loom if the Kings were not in the midst of a three-game winning streak.
For now, Richards is centering left wing Dustin Brown and right wing Justin Williams. Brown and Williams have two goals apiece.
"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 move to get Kopitar on a goal-scoring run. Kopitar scored three goals in the playoffs last season but didn't score a goal in the last 16 games of the regular season.
Though he may not be scoring, Kopitar 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 [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."
Richards, who has four assists, played one of his better games of the season in the 3-0 victory over the Panthers.
"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."
Kopitar isn't letting the lack of goal scoring spill into other areas, paying attention to the positive and the negative.
"Trying to focus on both, what you can do better and what you're doing good, try to improve on that too," he said. "Making sure the little details are in place, and eventually big picture is put together with the small pieces. It's coming along pretty good."
Sutter's last lines in his media session Monday may have been his best ones:
"You can't go 82-0. It's impossible," he said. "Well, unless your team's got a parade route set up already."
AT TAMPA BAY
When: 4:30 PDT.
Where: Tampa Bay Times Forum.
On the air: TV: FS West. Radio: 1150.
Record vs. Lightning (2012-13): Did not play.
Etc.: The third-leading scorer for Tampa Bay is right wing Teddy Purcell, who played 91 games for the Kings in parts of three seasons, starting in 2007-08. He has three goals and six points and all three goals have come on the power play.
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