|Teddy Purcell will be a healthy scratch tonight.
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Kings’ cavalry arrived, all at once.
Wayne Simmonds and Brandon Segal were activated from injured reserve Saturday morning and will be back in the lineup tonight when the Kings face Phoenix, as will the previously injured Jack Johnson and Ryan Smyth. Jarret Stoll
(groin) was retroactively placed on injured reserve to create roster space, but he is considered day to day and will be able to be activated when healthy. Randy Jones also remains out with head and neck pain. Andrei Loktionov
(shoulder) is also out.
But for a Kings team that was without seven players in the final game before its eight-day break, Saturday morning had the feel of a fresh start.
Coach Terry Murray said he wasn’t concerned about putting four players back in the lineup at once, and said each player could play a regular complement of minutes.
"I'm assuming that they're going to get slotted back in and play the number of minutes and the same situations," Murray said. "Ryan Smyth has been out for quite a while, as we know, but has been on the ice for probably three weeks. In my mind, as a veteran player, he's able to get right back in and contribute. Same thing with Wayne Simmonds.
"I know he's only a second-year pro, but he has a pretty clear understanding as to what his role is and how to play the game now. We'll just put him right back at it, also. I have the confidence that everybody is going to play that way. We'll keep the shifts short. After this many days off, you've got to bring the high energy and match Phoenix."
Smyth, out since Nov. 16, will go back on the first line, alongside Anze Kopitar
and Justin Williams
. Simmonds will be on a line with Alexander Frolov and Oscar Moller, while Segal joins the fourth line with Raitis Ivanans and Corey Elkins
Johnson comes back as one of the six defensemen, and a second line of Brad Richardson
, Michal Handzus and Dustin Brown
means that Teddy Purcell and Peter Harrold are the expected healthy scratches. ODD MAN OUT
Purcell’s up-and-down season hit another rough spot Saturday with the news that he would be left off the game roster.
Purcell started the season as the Kings’ second-line left winger, and had two goals in his first three games, but then went 26 games without a goal. Purcell scored a goal on Dec. 9 at San Jose but now has gone five consecutive games without recording a point.
"Teddy's game is about the offensive part of it, mainly. Most importantly, he's got to be able to put some points on the board, whether it be creativity and making things happen on the power play or going out and scoring some goals. I think his game, on the checking side of it, he's focusing on that. He's trying to give that a better look, and it has improved from when I first met him a year ago. I don't think it's a bad thing to take a player out when there has not been a lot of success.
"You've got to bring attention to it, and have a meeting with him and make sure that he understands clearly what the reason is that he is coming out for. We'll stay with him, on that side of it. Get a day off today. We have plenty of hockey in front of us, and he's just going to have to make sure that when he gets back in, he's going to stay in the lineup through his own good play."
NO-GO FOR FRO
Russia announced its roster for the Olympic hockey tournament, and the deep group of forwards did not include Frolov, who was a part of the team in 2006.
Frolov, who has nine goals and 15 assists in 36 games for the Kings this season, can still be added to the roster before the start of the tournament, but Frolov said he had last had communication with representatives from the team "maybe a couple months ago," but not since.
"Any player wants to play in the Olympics," Frolov said Saturday. "I’ve got to do my best and we’ll see what happens." UNWELCOME VISITORS
The Coyotes surprisingly sit in fourth place in the Western Conference, largely due to their success at home, where they have a 14-5-0 record. Two of those losses, though, have come to the Kings, on Oct. 24 and Nov. 2, both by scores of 5-3.
This is the Kings’ third and final game in Phoenix this season, but they now face a Coyotes team that has won eight consecutive home games and hasn’t lost at Jobing.com Arena since a 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Nov. 16.
Today, Murray was asked about his team’s success in Arizona, and what the Kings need to do in order to duplicate it tonight.
"Respecting what they bring, and their skill game and their speed," Murray said. "That's the most important thing, I think, when you come in here, is to make sure you're going to be a checking team with a scoring mentality. Primarily, you have to come and play well without the puck, because they are a puck-possession team.
"Their blue-line guys, Jovanovski, Yandle, every one of them, those guys are up on the attack every breakout. They really put a lot of stress on you defensively, and if you're not in proper position, you're going to give up two or three scoring chances on the rush. So, awareness of where you are on the ice, without the puck, is very important against this hockey club tonight."