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Searching for offense, Sutter shakes up L.A. lines

Darryl Sutter, Rob Scuderi, Drew Doughty

New Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter, center, puts his arms around Rob Scuderi, left, and Drew Doughty, right, after Doughty assisted Scuderi on his goal in the first period against the Phoenix Coyotes in an NHL hockey game, Monday, Dec. 26, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)


Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider notes that head coach Darryl Sutter has made his first major shakeup since taking over for Terry Murray.

In an effort to coax offense from a team that’s averaging a league-worst 2.02 goals per game -- if they keep it up, the Kings will finish with the lowest GPG average since the lockout -- Sutter shook up his lines following a 1-0 loss to Columbus.

The moves:

-- Justin Williams went from second-line right wing to first-line right wing.

-- Dustin Brown stayed on the first line, but moved from right to left wing.

-- Mike Richards moved from first-line left wing to second-line center.

-- Jarret Stoll stayed on the second line, but moved from center to right wing.

In short, Sutter bailed on the idea of loading up the top line with his three best offensive weapons -- Brown, Richards and Anze Kopitar -- in favor of a more balanced attack.

“We’ll try the other way, with Mike back to his natural position,” Sutter said. “Stolly has played wing. Willy has been playing really good. Hopefully he can give Kopi a little boost there.’’

Hammond notes there’s nothing revolutionary with Sutter’s moves, as both Brown and Stoll have played these “new’’ positions before. If anything, the shift signifies Sutter’s sense of urgency to find a solution. He tried the top-heavy idea, now he’s trying the balanced approach. He’s also seeing how he can spark Kopitar, who has been underwhelming recently (one goal in his last 21 games.)

And if Sutter can’t figure the offense out with the players he’s got, perhaps he’ll get some new players. Helene Elliott of the LA Times notes that “General Manager Dean Lombardi undoubtedly is making and taking calls,” with regards to making a deal, especially since Simon Gagne appears nowhere close to returning.