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Kings Need to Shuffle Lines & Rediscover Scoring Depth

With those two out, they need a way to recreate that scoring depth.



Less than two weeks ago the Los Angeles Kings were one of hockey's hottest teams and looked primed for a deep playoff run. 

But over the last six games they've slowed way down and have struggled to score goals. 

A big factor in their offensive struggles is the absence of Gabe Vilardi and Kevin Fiala. 

One of the Kings' biggest strengths this season has been depth. Both Vilardi and Fiala have been mainstays in the team's middle six. Forcing a matchup nightmare for the opposition. 

The Kings aren't a top-heavy roster that can rely on one line to do most of their damage. 

With those two out, they need a way to recreate that scoring depth.

We saw Todd McLellan throw the lines in a blender on Thursday after they went down big against the Vegas Golden Knights, but there's no indication he plans on sticking to those lines. 

He has plenty of options though.

They didn't spend much time together, but the top line of Carl Grundstrom-Anze Kopitar-Adrian Kempe has some real potential. 

After a fantastic run during the Kings' 12-game points streak, the top line has slowed way down. Quinton Byfield has no points in his last eight. With Kempe and Kopitar combining for just two five-on-five points in their last five.

They need a spark and Grundstrom can provide that. 

He's physical, direct and has a scoring touch. Kempe doesn't have a great history playing with other shooters, but Grundstrom's physicality and puck-hunting should provide plenty of value. His scoring touch on that line is a bonus. 

McLellan kept the second line of Trevor Moore-Phil Danault-Viktor Arvidsson intact and I don't think it should stay that way. It hasn't been the same line it was last season.

I hate to throw Moore under the bus, but the concussion issues he's dealt with this season have clearly had an impact on him. Some time away from that line would be good.

This gives McLellan two options here. He can move Alex Iafallo up and create a true shutdown second line. Or move one of Arthur Kaliyev or Rasmus Kupari into Moore's spot. 

Kaliyev hasn't looked like himself since returning from his broken foot. But he still possesses a world-class shot. If Danault and Arvidsson can feed him, the goals will come.

Kupari's stepped up in a big way down the stretch and has earned some extra ice time. He doesn't have the same, clear offensive weapon Kaliyev does. But he can play a high-paced game that compliments Danault and Arvidsson.

Kaliyev to the second line allows Kupari to drop into a third-line center role and spreads out the talent better so that's what I'd go with.

Leaving a third line of, Byfield-Kupari-Iafallo. There's potential for Byfield to play center on this line, but Kupari's been dominant in the draw recently so I'd keep him through the middle. 

This line lacks a goal scorer but has everything else. 

Kupari and Byfield are two big bodies who play with a lot of speed and Iafallo is one of the best two-way players in the league. Iafallo's also scoring at a 20-goal pace over 82 games right now, so there's some degree of goalscoring on that line.

You'd really be banking on one of Kupari or Byfield finding a bit of a goal scorers touch down the stretch. 

But, three defensively responsible, who can play with speed, have size and skill is usually a recipe for success.

Leaving a fourth line of Moore-Blake Lizotte-Jaret Anderson-Dolan. I understand why Zack MacEwen plays in theory, but in practice, he just doesn't work. Anderson-Dolan should be in the lineup right now.

It's not your typical big, heavy fourth line. But that's three players with motors that never stop. They're also all defensively responsible and will have a skill advantage over most fourth lines. 

I'm a bit hesitant to say Moore should move down to the fourth line. The last time I said that he moved onto the second line and led the team in points during the second half of last season. But we're trying to spread out the talent here. 

This leaves the forward lines as:

Carl Grundstrom-Anze Kopitar-Adrian Kempe

Arthur Kaliyev-Phil Danault-Viktor Arvidsson

Quinton Byfield-Rasmus Kupari-Alex Iafallo

Trevor Moore-Blake Lizotte-Jaret Anderson-Dolan

This gives the Kings scoring depth once again and provides an opportunity for some young players to step up in a more significant role.

McLellan's mentioned how important it is for young players to provide a spark right now and now they'd have that chance.

Assuming these lines don't fail miserably, you also don't have to make many changes if the Kings get healthy at any point.

Carl Grundstrom-Anze Kopitar-Adrian Kempe

Kevin Fiala-Phil Danault-Viktor Arvidsson

Alex Iafallo-Quinton Byfield-Gabe Vilardi

Trevor Moore-Blake Lizotte-Rasmus Kupari

This would be my lineup when everyone's healthy. You can swap a few players around if things aren't working out. Kupari and Grundstrom can flip. You could flip Fiala and Iafallo, giving the team a shutdown line and the most skilled third line in hockey. 

Whatever McLellan decides to do, the lineup on Saturday can't be the same one we saw Thursday, something has to change.

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