They No Longer Play ‘What’s My Line?’
Three games, three wins and along the way, the Kings have given up three goals.
It’s the result of hard work and, perhaps, a coach not coaching quite as much.
“Their whole work ethic is so much better, and the reason is that they know that if they work hard they’re going to get their rewards for it,” Coach Larry Robinson said. “And [the earlier lack of that ethic] probably that’s my fault and that’s what’s missing all along. Now that they know it, hopefully it’s not too late to rebound.”
The reward, in this case, is a static lineup, with the forwards playing with the same linemates. It’s what players told Robinson they wanted after going through three-quarters of the season of ever-changing lineups because of injuries and a search for offense.
The defensive pairings have largely remained constant, but the forwards have been juggled, Robinson said, not because he wanted to but because he believed he had to.
For three games now, the lines have remained the same, and they probably will do so Thursday night when the Kings play host to the Mighty Ducks. And what is generally considered the top line--that of Glen Murray, Luc Robitaille and Olli Jokinen--isn’t scoring, but the Kings are winning.
When Murray tipped in a shot by Sean O’Donnell on Monday in the 4-0 win over Ottawa, it was the first goal scored by any of the three since Robitaille scored the game-winner at Detroit in overtime Feb. 24.
“Maybe my luck’s changed,” Murray said. “I just happened to tip it.”
Maybe the Kings’ luck has changed, by not changing anything at all.
Jamie Storr is watching Stephane Fiset handle the goaltending chores during the crucial part of the season and does so without rancor.
“This is what 80% of the backup goalies do,” he said. “I think it’s good, staying with one guy. If he plays well, it’s a great idea. We’re only [three] points out of the playoffs.”
At the same time, Storr--who has 25 starts to Fiset’s 28--wants to play and recognizes that idleness since March 4 and playing only one game since Feb. 26 might not be the best way to stay sharp.
“This is unusual, because we had almost a week off [between games last week],” he said. “But I’ve been getting in good practice and I’m not worried about it. If you worry every day, you’re going to die a lot faster. I might as well enjoy myself. At the same time, [being a backup is] not something I’m just going to accept.”