Kings are looking for more production of second-line forward Brendan Leipsic
For at least one play per game, Brendan Leipsic shows off his playmaking ability.
Against the Ottawa Senators, he sped down right wing and stick-handled around a defender. It elicited oohs from the Staples Center crowd, but it didn’t lead to a goal.
That’s about how it’s gone for Leipsic lately: flashes of skill and finesse but little scoring and finish. He has one goal in 18 games since he joined the Kings as a waiver acquisition yet remains their second-line right wing, a shortfall that coach Willie Desjardins acknowledges has to change.
“When you’re in an offensive role, you have to produce offensively,” Desjardins said. “He hasn’t done that consistently enough.”
Desjardins said he’s trying to achieve balance throughout the lines, an ongoing project that has produced scant production from the second line, no matter the combination. Leipsic has been with Jeff Carter and Alex Iafallo for three games and they’ve produced one goal, by Carter, although they have generated some scoring chances.
“We’re all kind of on the same page,” Leipsic said. “We all like to play down low with the puck, and if we can make plays off the rush, we do. Just getting used to what we like to do in the o-zone, where each other are, behind the net or in front, is a bit of a work in progress. But we’re all skill players. We can all make plays.”
The overall lack of scoring by the Kings coincides with the benching of Matt Luff. The rookie right wing plateaued from seven goals in his first 20 games but Desjardins said it might be time to give him another look.
“He deserves to get back in the lineup,” Desjardins said. “That’s probably the issue of, who do you take out? It’s always easy to move guys at the bottom line of your lineup out, but they’re not hurting us. They’re playing pretty well. It makes you look at guys more higher up in the lineup … but I need to get Luff back in. He’s a good player. He needs to play.”
Luff did extra work in practice Friday with fellow rookie Austin Wagner. Jarret Stoll, a former Kings center who works with forwards for player development, was also on the ice.
“He’s like, ‘Don’t lose focus,’ ” Luff said of Stoll. “ ‘You came a long way since you were a young kid to get here. Believe in yourself and [your] ability.’ I think he’s got a lot of knowledge and [is] really helpful for me.”
Leipsic doesn’t need to be told that jobs in the NHL are precious. He’s with his fifth organization in six years.
“You’re not going to get too many more chances like this,” Leipsic said. “Coming in, you’ve got to work hard, try and give them an excuse not to take you out of the lineup. We’re pretty healthy right now. I got a spot. Someone’s always trying to take it. I’ve tried to take guys’ spots right now. I’m just trying to take full advantage of the chances I get.”
Daniel Brickley is week to week with a lower-body injury, general manager Rob Blake said. Brickley reportedly couldn’t put any weight on his left foot when he left the game Wednesday for the Ontario Reign. He played in four games for the Kings this season.
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: iHeartRadio (LA Kings Audio Network).
Update: Tanner Pearson will make his first appearance at Staples Center since he was traded for Carl Hagelin on Nov. 14. The Kings are expected to recognize Pearson, a member of their 2014 Stanley Cup-winning team who has six goals in his first 27 games with Pittsburgh, including one against the Kings on Dec. 15.
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