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by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
The Kings, 0-1-1 vs. the Detroit Red Wings so far this season with a 4-3 shootout loss on Oct. 27 and blowing a 4-3 third period lead in a 6-4 loss at Detroit on Dec. 20, will host the Red Wings tonight but will do so without Calder Trophy candidate Drew Doughty, who will not play tonight.

“I would say that this is not a long-term injury," Head coach Terry Murray said. "It is a thigh contusion; I guess you could define it almost a Charlie Horse. He is probably doubtful for the weekend, but as we get to the final games before the All-Star break, I am anticipating some good news then.”

Doughty was injured on Jan. 13 suffering a thigh contusion to his right leg in the second period after being checked against the boards by Tampa Bay Lightning forward Evgeny Artyukhin in a 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Monday night. Doughty has not participated in practice since the injury

Doughty leads all rookies (and the Kings) with 23:42 average time-on-ice. He has played at least 20 minutes in 38 of 42 games this season (25-plus minutes in 19 games and a season-high 29:04 Nov. 22 vs. Colorado). Doughty has 12 points this season (3-9=12), third most among rookie blue-liners. He’s first among rookies with 53 blocked shots.

He will be replaced in the lineup by Tom Preissing, who has not played since Dec. 26 vs. Phoenix.

“In our team meetings we are talking about team competitiveness," Murray said. "It’s never about an individual when you talk that way, it's about team support, team battle and each individual player has to dig in and do the stuff he needs to do in those situations. That is where Preissing needs to dig in and be a competitor for us. I said on the air the other day when I did post-game question and answer that I am playing with my best six defenseman right now and that is why Tom is out of the lineup. Not because of a lack of talent, lack of ability, because he has got the skill, we just need him to be better in those dig in, competitive situations when playing without the puck.”

Preissing has posted 3-4=7 in 21 games played this season, he will be paired with Denis Gauthier, his defensive partner for much of the season, with Peter Harrold playing with Kyle Quincey. Sean O'Donnell and Matt Greene will also be paired together tonight. Line up.

“We are trying to get some organization there with the people who can carry the puck, the skilled players and defensive players, kind of mix it up in that sense to give each other good support," Murray said. "All six of them have a big job ahead of them tonight against this team. I watched them last night and we have played them twice already. They are a highly skilled, offensively minded team and everyone is going to have to play well away from the puck.”

Raitis Ivanans, who did not skate yesterday for a "therapy day," participated in the morning skate today, but is expected to be a healthy scratch as is Kevin Westgarth, who was recalled from Manchester yesterday. The Kings will go with a Derek Armstrong-Brian Boyle-John Zeiler fourth line to try and match the team speed and skill of the Red Wings.

Kings center Brad Richardson, who remains on injured reserve with a foot injury, has been sent to Manchester (AHL) for conditioning. Richardson has not played since Dec. 2 at Phoenix, suffering a cut on his foot the following day at practice. Richardson had appeared in just nine games this season with an assist.

“It is a lot better, so we will see in the next couple days," Richardson said at practice on Wednesday. "We can kind of figure out how it is and if I can play, but I feel really good so we’ll just see what everyone thinks. I have been skating now for almost two weeks, a couple times a week.

"This was the best day since it happened."

Jack Johnson has been back in the black jersey, no longer wearing the yellow-no-contact jersey, for a few practices now and is close to returning.

“I am thinking about putting Johnson in during the road trip," Murray admitted to the media after the team's morning skate on Thursday. When I am writing down the defense pairing I keep putting his number in there now, because he is getting very close. He is confident and getting more confident every day. He is doing all of the work on the one-on-one battles down there. It means a lot for him to be able to feel at the end of the day that the soreness is not as much as what it was, so he is becoming in his own mind closer and more confident.

"The original time was right after the All-Star break, and that might be what it is, but there is a chance maybe that he might get in before the break.”

Johnson has not played since the second game of the season due to a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

“Whenever you are able to go through the workouts and feel good at the end of the day you obviously have a good feeling in your own mind and your confidence starts to grow," Murray continued. "He also stated in a meeting that I had with him before he got away that it is getting better and he is more confident. We are not going to push him, it is his decision but the doctors have given him the green light to do everything. He will probably get another opinion tonight from the team doctor but he is getting very close.”

Jon Quick will start tonight vs. the Red Wings. Quick started his first game of the year at Detroit, stopping 30-of-35 shots on Dec. 20 in a 6-4 loss to the Wings. The Kings held a 4-3 advantage in the third period of the game, surrendering three unanswered goals - one empty netter - in the loss.

Erik Ersberg started the Kings last game, a 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay, being pulled after just five minutes in the second period, surrendering three goals on seven shots.

"You want to stop every goal," Ersberg said of his performance. "I don’t want to think about it too much. It was a tough game and I am just trying to look forward. It’s not easy to let go but I have to do it. There are games coming up and practice every day so you have to forget about tough games and turn it around.”

Ersberg is 8-7-2 this season with a 2.48 GAA and a .898 SV%. Quick has posted a 4-4-0 mark with a 2.04 GAA and a .927 SV%.

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