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Calling on Oscar

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
EL SEGUNDO -- Uncertainly over Brad Richardson’s status has opened up a spot for Oscar Moller, who was called up by the Kings from Manchester of the AHL on Friday.

Richardson suffered an undisclosed upper-body injury during the first period of Thursday night’s game, did not practice Friday and is considered unlikely to play Saturday night when the Kings host the Minnesota Wild at STAPLES Center.

Given the doubt over Richardson’s status, and the fact that they have an open roster spot, the Kings gave the call to Moller, who has 17 points in 19 AHL games this season.

It’s not known where, or if, Kings coach Terry Murray intends to play Moller against the Wild. Richardson has bounced around the Kings’ lineup this season but most recently has served as the fourth-line center or left winger.

Moller can play either position, but has been primarily a winger since last season.

This will be Moller’s fifth stint with the Kings. He made the team at the start of the 2008-09 season, as a 19-year-old rookie, but has shuttled between the NHL and AHL since then, with 11 goals and 11 assists in 74 career games with the Kings.

Murray likely will choose from between four players -- Moller, Kyle Clifford, John Zeiler and Kevin Westgarth -- when selecting his fourth line for tomorrow’s game.

Richardson’s short-term future is uncertain. He left Thursday’s game eight minutes into the first period and did not return. Murray did not offer many specifics on Friday.

``I don't know if it's day-to-day,’’ Murray said of Richardson’s status. ``I don't know how to term that. It's an upper-body injury that we're just going to take our time with and see how he comes around. Hopefully soon.’’


The Kings, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, made it a special day for 6-year-old Will McLeod of Valley Village, who is being treated for acute lymphatic leukemia.

Will’s wish was to meet his hockey hero, Kings captain Dustin Brown, and on Friday, it happened. A limousine took Will and his family -- parents Rob and Indira and 8-year-old brother, Mac -- to El Segundo, where they watched Brown and the Kings practice.

Afterward, the family got to join Brown, Jonathan Bernier and Kevin Westgarth for some on-ice fun, and Brown gave a personal guided tour of the Kings’
training facility.

The final stop was Brown’s locker, where a large assortment of Kings memorabilia
-- including a personalized No. 23 jersey -- was waiting for Will.

``It's been great,’’ Indira McLeod said. ``It's been wonderful. He's had just such a blast. He and his brother are having so much fun.

``He's been through so much. Our whole family has been through so much, both of my kids. This is just sort of a culmination, the light at the end of the tunnel, kind of. It's been a long road. His treatment has been for three years, and even still, he has to go every month, he has to get labs every month. I said to him today, `You know why you're getting this? Because of everything you've been through.' And his brother too, because he's had to endure a lot. For him, this has just been something special to look forward to.’’


Willie Mitchell, who has missed 13 games with a broken wrist, won’t play tomorrow night, but is getting closer to a return. Mitchell said he has not yet started taking slap shots in practice but plans to play during the Kings’
upcoming five-game road trip.

The Kings start the trip with games Monday at Detroit and Thursday at Nashville, and Murray made it sound as though Mitchell could be back for one of those games.

``It’s coming along,’’ Murray said. ``It's a matter of being able to tolerate everything and getting yourself prepared to play. I think we're kind of gearing up for the road trip. I am. It's not going to be tomorrow, but I would hope that with another couple days of good practice that he would be able to get in the lineup here on the road trip.’’


Murray had high praise for the Thursday-night play of the Kings’ third line.
Alexei Ponikarovsky returned, after missing 12 games with a broken finger, and Wayne Simmonds had a strong game and assisted on Kyle Clifford’s first NHL goal.

``The line was very good,’’ Murray said. ``They had a big effort against their top line, their top players, and responded very well on the checking part of it.
Poni, his conditioning was never a concern for me. He's been a member of the skating club there for a couple weeks, and he's been really pushing it hard.

``Obviously, with him being out that long your'e worried about timing, but his game was really good. It looked like the chemistry clicked right away. Timing was not an issue, and I was very pleased, at the end of the night, with how he played.’’


Murray also had solid praise for the recent play of rookie defenseman Alec Martinez. After his two-point effort on Saturday against Detroit, Martinez was rewarded for more than 20 minutes of ice time on Thursday night against Calgary.

``He's getting better every time he's on the ice, I think,’’ Murray said. ``His awareness is really improved. His body positioning and low play has improved dramatically from last year, and he's got great ability to carry the puck, with his speed, quickness, good first stride. He's getting better, as I say. Every time he's in the lineup, I'm seeing improvement in areas of his game.’’
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