The return of standout Los Angeles Kings
defenseman Drew Doughty
will be at least one more game away. The 21-year-old blueliner won't play tonight against Dallas at the American Airlines Center, the fifth straight game he will miss with an upper-body injury.
"No, he's not cleared to play. He's cleared to practice. He was cleared to practice, full contact in practice by the doctor last game," Los Angeles coach Terry Murray
said. "So he's getting close, getting better. He's out on the ice. He's doing everything now. We’ll get through one more game here without him and hopefully we can make a decision after that."
With Doughty unavailable for tonight, the Kings will likely go with rookie Slava Voynov
alongside veteran blueliner Willie Mitchell
But with Los Angeles currently tied with Winnipeg for the third-fewest goals scored in the League at 14 and heading into tonight's game having scored just three goals in its last three games, Murray will make one change to his lineup designed to energize its attack.
"We're going to get [Scott] Parse in. The offensive part of the game is something we want to get better at. We need better numbers," Murray said. "We're like third lowest in the League right now in the offensive category and we have to get some scoring. Parse is a player that we've often talked about as to why he's with us. He's an offensive, creative thinker. He can score some goals. I think he's getting through his offseason surgery and becoming a healthier player every day. He seems to be skating with more of a purpose out there in practice. I want to get him in and see if he can contribute on that offensive part of the game."
So far this season, the Kings are 2-0-1 on the road and in 2009-10, were 24-14-3, the second-best road mark in the NHL. It's clear their coach considers getting favorable results away from the Staples Center a top priority.
"We're a comfortable team on the road. We feel we can play well in any building in the League," Murray said. "We just rely on our structure and our system."
Tonight, his Kings will face a Stars team they beat in Los Angeles 1-0 on Saturday night. But Dallas is a perfect 4-0-0 at the American Airlines Center this season and 7-2-0 overall under new coach Glen Gulutzan.
Murray sees several reasons why the Stars have gotten off to such a solid start under their new man behind the bench.
"I'm seeing Dallas a little more on the defensive part of the game right now," Murray said. "I thought their game last year offensively was pretty effective. They do some nice things in the offensive zone-changing the point of attack but they have a bigger focus on the checking part. We did see that our last time in here last year and it's been a follow through on it. Their awareness without the puck is greater. They're recovering more of those pucks and getting back on the counterattack because of it."