EL SEGUNDO--The carousel at the first-line left-wing position took another turn during practice Friday.
Dustin Brown, the team captain for the Kings and a fixture at right wing the last few seasons, was moved over to the left side in an attempt to fill a glaring void that has slowed the line’s production through the first 21 games.
Wayne Simmonds was switched from the third line to Brown’s spot at right wing, giving what coach Terry Murray hopes is an experienced combination that can do a better job of keeping the puck in the offensive zone and creating more scoring opportunities.
Brown left the Toyota Sports Center before speaking with reporters, but Murray said Brown was ready to do what it takes to get the team back on track. The Kings (13-8-0) have lost five of their last six games to drop from first in the Western Conference standings to fifth.
"I had a meeting with [Brown] this morning to discuss the importance of putting your top group of guys together," Murray said. "He assured me he had no problem with it."
Brown played left wing on the 2010 U.S. Olympic team, as well as a few games last season.
"Attacking off that left wing side for him, with his speed, to be able to go hard to the net, is a very favorable look," Murray said. "I can’t say [the move] is permanent...if there’s great chemistry and things start to come together with the line, you don’t want to tamper with it, for sure."
Ryan Smyth began the season as the left wing on the top line, but then Murray gave rookie Andrei Loktionov a look for five games. Loktionov, a natural center, didn’t seem to have the physical attributes to make an impact along the boards and was returned to the American Hockey League.
At the same time, Smyth was flourishing on the second line with center Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams and Murray didn't want to break up that grouping.
Scott Parse was given a shot at the position, but was ineffective and then underwent hip surgery. Brad Richardson stepped in for a spell and then the Kings tried another rookie, Dwight King, the last five games.
Nothing seemed to click.
Anze Kopitar, who centers the top line, has seven goals and 20 points through 21 games, compared to 14 goals and 31 points through the same stretch last season. He said he’s looking forward to some consistency on his left side.
"It would be nice, yea, of course, we haven’t had any of that this year," he said. "Hopefully, Terry doesn’t have to make any more changes."
Simmonds, in his third season, has some experience playing with both Kopitar and Brown, and feels his physical style of play will fit in well.
"I have a strong forecheck and just create loose pucks for those guys," he said. "I figure that’s my job, you know."
Check back for more from today’s practice, including a video interview with the Kings’ newest member, rookie defenseman Alec Martinez.