The Kings returned to practice today at Toyota Sports Center after a tough 6-2 loss at Colorado last night that dropped the Kings season record to 11-12-4 and 26 points, four points behind Nashville for the eighth and final playoff spot.
KINGS HURTING UP FRONT
Derek Armstrong, Raitis Ivanans and Brad Richardson
all did not participate in practice today, as the suited up 10 healthy forwards for practice at Toyota Sports Center.
Armstrong was injured in the first period last night at Colorado on a hit from Cody McLeod. Armstrong fell to the ice while McLeod went on to score the game’s third goal from the front of the Kings net, sliding the puck past a sprawling Jason LaBarbera. Armstrong went off the ice at 11:44 of the first with an upper-body injury and did not return.
Head coach Terry Murray had this to say about Armstrong: “He’s feeling better, but still has a headache.”
Armstrong did workout in the Kings weight room, riding the exercise bike.
Richardson, meanwhile, has missed the last three games after suffering a gash on his foot that required seven stitches at practice on Dec. 3.
Ivanans also did not participate in practice due to flu-like symptoms and was sent home for “rest and fluids.”
If all three should miss the game tomorrow, the Kings would have just 10 healthy forwards for their contest vs. the St. Louis Blues. As a result, the Kings are expected to recall Teddy Purcell this afternoon and it is very possible that D Peter Harrold could return to the forward spot if Armstrong, Ivanans or Richardson are unable to suit up.
As for Purcell, 24, he leads the Monarchs in goals (9) and points (19), and he also has six penalty minutes through 23 games this season. The 6-3, 202-pound native of St. John’s Newfoundland has not played in a regular season game with the Kings this season. He will wear jersey No. 54.
KINGS LOOK TO BOUNCE BACK VS. ST. LOUIS
The last time the Kings surrendered six goals in a game and were beaten by such a large margin was Nov. 25, a 6-2 loss at Calgary. The next night, the Kings defeated the Oilers, 2-1 at Edmonton.
“We can look at that particular rebound game and talk about it and use it as an example that we are capable of doing it,” Murray said. “I also mentioned on the ice that when we play with that structure and in our system, we can play with anyone in the league. We can’t do it with two lines or with three lines, it takes everybody for us. We can’t carry anybody. We are not good enough. That was our message at practice.”
“When we play the right way, we could play a pretty good hockey game. We need to have 20 players playing the right way.”
FOUR-GAME HOMESTAND; ERSBERG TO START VS. ST. LOUIS
The Kings will now play four straight at home, hosting the St. Louis Blues tomorrow, the Minnesota Wild on Dec. 13, the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 15 and the New York Rangers on Dec. 17.
“Seams that is all we do is play at home,” Kings goaltender Jason LaBarbera said. “I don’t know who made the schedule, it is good now, but after Christmas, it is going to be tough. We want to get as many of these as we can. We have to get those points, those are huge. It is a lot tougher traveling across the country [later in the season] we need to defend home ice.”
The Kings are 8-6-4 at home this season and 3-6-0 on the road. Starting in January, the team has 17 home games and 28 road games to close out the season.
ERSBERG TO START ON THURSDAY
All indications are that the Kings will start Erik Ersberg on Thursday. Jason LaBarbera started last night stopping 20-of-26 in the Kings 6-1 loss at Colorado.
“He was so good against Columbus, calm and collected,” Murray said.”The first goal that happened, it wasn’t like him in recent games. He was scrambling. He wasn’t the calm, cool, collected player I saw in the Columbus game. It was a tough game for the goalie. You are down six goals and you are half way through the game and everyone is looking at him.
“It is embarrassing situation for him.”
LaBarbera had this to say about his performance: “I have not had any luck against that team whatsoever. It was one of those games where nothing, absolutely nothing went right for us. “You just wipe the slate clean and come back tomorrow with a better effort.”
Murray made it clear that he did not consider pulling LaBarbera after the Kings fell behind 6-0 nine minutes into the second period.
“I did not make a change for a reason, everyone has to learn to battle through it,” Murray said. “You have to work your way out of stuff and that was no different for LaBarbera. I told him he had to dig in and keep working at his game to get it back.”
Ersberg, who is slated to start tomorrow, had this to say about St. Louis: “They have some dangerous players. We need to stay out of the box and get back to our game. We can’t focus on what team we are playing, just our own game. The way we played vs. Columbus as opposed to last night are so different.
“We need to get back to playing our game”
The Kings are 2-0-0 vs. St. Louis this year, outscoring the Blues, 9-3