Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 1/6/12
For a team to experience regular and post-season success, contributions must come from all four forward lines. When the playoffs roll around, the stronger teams will have their top-six forwards settled and hopefully clicking, combined with hard work and strong chemistry from third and fourth lines in a depth role. Those who recall the Los Angeles Kings' run to the 1993 Stanley Cup finals remember it wasn't just Gretzky, Robitaille and Kurri putting up points in the postseason it was also the speed line of Corey Millen, Mike Donnelly and Tony Granato, combined with the even deeper contributions from players like Pat Conacher, Gary Shuchuk and Warren Rychel. If there was a Kings team in the last 20 years that had such defined roles embraced by every player on the roster, it was the 1993 Campbell Conference-winning squad. While the Kings still have plenty of room for improvement and work to be done after game 41 a 1-0 overtime win over the Phoenix Coyotes Thursday evening at STAPLES Center it appears as though there's some chemistry brewing between new linemates Brad Richardson, Andrei Loktionov and Trevor Lewis at the start of 2012. Though none of the three were on the ice when Drew Doughty netted the overtime game-winner by driving to the net and stuffing the puck past Mike Smith 38 seconds into overtime, they were Los Angeles' most effective line throughout the balance of the game and were able to use their speed and work ethic to create several quality scoring opportunities. "I think since Head Coach Darryl Sutter put us together we've played pretty well," Richardson said. "Lokti's been here a while, and I think he's starting to feel comfortable now. He's really skilled. Once he gets some confidence I think he was kind of lacking that for a while he's the kind of guy once he gets it, he's a pretty special player. Me and Lewie are kind of the same player a little bit hard working, get on the forecheck, use our speed. It's been working good. We're just trying to get on the D as quick as possible." Sutter, who has guided the Kings to at least a point in all of his eight games behind the bench with a 5-0-3 record, has liked what he's seen from the newly formed trio. "They did lots of good things again," Sutter said. "They've been playing with energy and talking about what they want to do and giving us sort of high-speed shifts, which is good. Brad has scored in two of the last three or whatever it is, and we need Lewie and Lokti to do that too. At the end of the day, that's what they need, too. They need to feel good about their game." To say that Richardson has enjoyed playing under Sutter would be an understatement. A healthy scratch in seven of eight games shortly before Terry Murray's dismissal, he has quickly jumped in with two goals and a plus-four rating under the Kings' new coach and could see that production continue to increase with more efforts like the one he provided Thursday. "It's starting to come. I'm still not quite there where I want to be," Richardson said. "I had probably three or four good chances tonight where you'd like to see the puck go in for you. It's positive that the chances are coming, but you'd still like to see one go in once in a while. We're all kind of feeling the same thing, but at least we're getting some points." He's also echoed several of his teammates' sentiments by expressing the enjoyment of playing for a hands-on coach whose approach has resonated with both the youth and veterans on the team's roster. "With me, he just kind of tells me just bring that hard-working game. That's the kind of guy he is," Richardson said. "You can tell when he comes in, he's pretty fired up. He kind of looks like sometimes he wants to strap em on and get out there with you, so it's a cool thing." NOTES: Consider Dave Tippett among the people who disagreed with Doughty's game-winning goal, which was upheld after a video review. "It should be no goal. It's not a matter of fact that the puck went in the net. The puck did go in the net, but it should be goalie interference. If they don't give the goal to Johnson then it's goalie interference. If he comes in and puts his leg in front of Mike Smith's leg so (Smith) can't make a stop that is goalie interference. It's as simple as that. It's a poor call. It's a blown call that should be no goal," Tippett said. Quick's shutout was his league-leading sixth shutout, which ties his career high, set in 2010-11. He's 6-0-2 in his last eight games with a 1.20 GAA and .956 save percentage. Prospects Thomas Hickey and Jeff Zatkoff were selected to the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic, held on January 29-30 in Atlantic City, NJ. Hickey, 22, a defenseman selected fourth overall in 2007, is tied for sixth in the AHL with a plus-15 rating and has 11 points (1-10=11) in 36 games played. Zatkoff, 24, is 10-4-1 with a 2.04 GAA and .935 save percentage and was recently named the Reebok AHL Goaltender of the Month.
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