There have been a couple questions — oh, just a couple — about the way Terry Murray has put together his top line, with Anze Kopitar centering Dustin Brown and Kyle Calder. Everyone, Murray included, acknowledges that the Kings aren’t getting enough offensive production from their top line, but what to do about it? Here are Murray’s thoughts about the line and his thoughts about possible changes in the near future…
Question: One theme this season has been your need to get more offense out of that top line. Do you feel like you’re getting any closer on that, or is there more tweaking necessary?
MURRAY: “I think there’s more tweaking necessary. I’m seeing tremendous effort, intensity, work, from Kopi and from Brownie, so I could ask for no more on that side of things. It’s been wonderful. I’m just looking for the chemistry to really develop to a higher level. I probably need to keep looking, to find someone who can fit on that (left) side, although I really like what Calder has… He’s playing the best I’ve seen him play. I don’t go back into the Chicago days, necessarily, but certainly when he was brought into Philadelphia, through that time and now four years later, he’s playing his best hockey. So I’m very happy with that, but it does come down to some flow and some chemistry and the intuitive stuff that good lines have.”
Question: What type of player would fit best with Brown and Kopitar?
MURRAY: “You know, who knows what the ideal is? In my mind, if you had Raitis Ivanans’ kind of size with a Mario Lemieux kind of talent, I would say, `This will work.” (laughs)”
Question: But is it more of a `finisher’ that they need?
MURRAY: “Well, I think a player who plays on a line like that, your top line, needs to bring all aspects of the game. You’ve got to be creative. You’ve got to be a grinding player. You’ve got to be able to cycle the puck very strongly in today’s game, because of the way the game is in the NHL. And certainly finishing is a huge part of it. It just takes a multi-faceted, talented player, to make good things work on a line.”
Question: It just seems like you typically look for a player who would complement the other players’ strengths or weaknesses…
MURRAY: “Well, you’re talking about an ideal scenario, and that’s not always the way it is. It’s not always possible to do that, obviously, so you’re trying to put a combination today that certainly is going to bring intensity and bring the work structure. Then they develop the chemistry as they sit together, talk together, practice together, and a lot of instinctive stuff starts to happen. Athletes need to react, they need to react to the game, and when you finally get those things together, there’s that kind of read going on. Then it becomes a powerful and dominating kind of a line.”