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Sutter calls Richards '50/50' to play in Game 5

Saturday, 06.08.2013 / 2:24 PM

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer / Blackhawks-Kings series blog

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Sutter calls Richards '50/50' to play in Game 5

CHICAGO -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter said "it's possible" center Mike Richards will play in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS). Richards has missed the past three games with a concussion.

The Blackhawks lead the best-of-7 series, 3-1.

"I'd say it's 50/50," Sutter said of Richards' chances of playing.

Richards took rushes on the fourth line between Jordan Nolan and Kyle Clifford during the morning skate Saturday. He declined a request to be interviewed in the dressing room afterward.

Richards was injured late in Game 1 of the series when he was hit behind the goal line by Chicago center Dave Bolland.

Sutter was hesitant to say much about Richards' status, other than calling his participation in Saturday's morning skate "progress."

Sutter said Richards was "doubtful at best" for Game 5 when he spoke to the media Friday, but the Kings did not hold a full practice before flying to Chicago so they didn't have a full evaluation of Richards. Some Kings players skated in El Segundo, Calif., before the team's flight Friday morning, but Sutter said Richards was not among them.

Richards did skate with the scratches between Games 3 and 4 but did not take part in the morning skate prior to Game 4 on Thursday.

"I said it last time prior to Game 2 in here that he was playing and he didn't play," Sutter said. "I just stay away from it, follow protocol. Obviously [Friday] kind of disrupts everything … so we really took this morning as if it was [Friday]."

Sutter likely won't fill out his official roster sheet until after pregame warm-ups. He said he knows Richards will want to play, but the team has to consider how many quality minutes he'll be able to play and how effective he can be.

Judging by the lines the Kings used Saturday morning, if Richards does play, it is likely Colin Fraser would be scratched. Fraser, though, said he doesn't know anything.

"The lines out there [for the morning skate], I just found that out when I got on the ice," Fraser told NHL.com. "Sometimes I don't even know until after warm-ups. I'm not even [messing] around, I really don't know. We don't know what the lines are and they're probably going to keep it that way.

"You have to be ready, so I'm just going to approach it like any other game. Obviously you always want to play, but if Mike comes back that's a huge boost for us too. We obviously want him to play. I guess we'll find out."

Nolan, who has not played since Game 6 of the team's second-round series against the San Jose Sharks, also wouldn't confirm if he is playing. Brad Richardson likely would be scratched if Nolan plays.

"I haven't heard yet," Nolan told NHL.com. "I'm always told to be ready. This whole series, I have just been getting ready for my time to be in there. I am not sure what the plans are. With our coaching staff, you wait until the last minute. I've been told I'm playing before and something happens so they change their mind the last minute."

It appears Sutter is toying with the idea of moving Anze Kopitar back to the top line to center Justin Williams and Dustin Brown. Kopitar and Jarret Stoll switched lines for Game 3 and it stuck in Game 4. But Kopitar spent the morning skate taking line rushes with Williams and Brown, while Stoll was on the third line between Dwight King and Trevor Lewis.

Switching Kopitar and Stoll could prove helpful when it comes to potential matchups. As the road team, the Kings don't have the last change, so they won't always be able to get the matchups they want.

"We don't get the change we want here and you can't change on the fly," Sutter said. "It doesn't have to do with [Kopitar]. [Kopitar] has been as good as their best centerman [Jonathan Toews] in the series when you look at it. They've been sawed off, so it's got nothing to do with [Kopitar]. It's who [Kopitar] plays with and who they're on the ice against."

Here were the lines and defense pairs the Kings showed during the morning skate:

Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams

Dustin Penner - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli

Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis

Kyle Clifford - Mike Richards - Jordan Nolan

Robyn Regher - Drew Doughty

Rob Scuderi - Slava Voynov

Jake Muzzin - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick

Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Keaton Ellerby, Anthony Stewart, Alec Martinez, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Linden Vey, Tanner Pearson, Colin Fraser, Brad Richardson

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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