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Kings Notebook (Dec. 18)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Ryan Smyth's return will reunite the Kings top line which had so much success at the start of the season.

With the Kings facing an eight-day holiday break, which started Friday, they assigned forwards Corey Elkins, Oscar Moller and Scott Parse and defenseman Alec Martinez to Manchester of the AHL.

Given that the Kings have a good chance of regaining the services of four injured players -- forwards Ryan Smyth and Jarret Stoll and defensemen Jack Johnson and Randy Jones -- when they return to action on Dec. 26, it's unknown how many players, if any, will be called back from Manchester next week.

The Kings also activated Smyth from injured reserve. Smyth has nine goals and 14 assists in 22 games this season but has not played since Nov. 16 because of an undisclosed upper-body injury.

Elkins played two games with the Kings, and scored his first NHL goal on Thursday night in Calgary. Moller assisted on that goal, and also scored a goal, in nine games. Parse, perhaps the most likely to return, had four goals and seven assists in 27 games. Martinez didn't record a point in two games.

As of Thursday, the Kings had seven injured players out of the lineup. Smyth, Stoll (groin), Johnson (ankle) and Jones (neck) are all likely to return when the Kings play their next game, Dec. 26 at Phoenix. Wayne Simmonds (knee) is week to week. Brandon Segal (knee) and Andrei Loktionov (shoulder) are currently rehabbing their injuries in Manchester. | Full Injury Report

Elkins, put in the lineup after Stoll injured his groin Monday in Vancouver, got to enjoy his first NHL goal, which came in the third period Thursday and pulled the Kings within 2-1.

Elkins, a big body listed at 6-foot-3 and 216 pounds, went to the front of the net, took a nice centering pass from Oscar Moller and beat Miikka Kiprusoff, one of the world's top goalies, with a wrist shot.

"As soon as we got it back down low," Elkins said, "we had two guys down there so I knew I just had to get to the net, and Oscar made a great pass."

Elkins drew praise from coach Terry Murray for his play, which included centering the third line and even getting a bit of power-play time. Not a dynamic scorer, Elkins said he understood his role well.

"It's the one thing on your mind, is to create some energy and, if you can, be the first guy in on the forecheck," Elkins said. "For me, it's important that I use my body and try to get some hits in there and provide some energy for the team."

The options weren't exactly overwhelming for Murray on Thursday. After a top line of Alexander Frolov, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, he had the following:

-- A second line that included his usual third-line center (Michal Handzus) and his usual fourth-line center (Brad Richardson).

-- A third line centered by a player (Elkins) in his second NHL game.

-- A fourth line with a center (Oscar Moller) the Kings think is better suited to play wing.

-- One of three defense pairs with two rookies (Martinez and Davis Drewiske).

After the game, Murray was asked whether, at any point, he took a moment to capture just how shorthanded the Kings were against the Flames.

"You think about that, because of the way (the Flames are) coming at you," Murray said. "You get an opportunity to reflect on that as they come pretty hard, heavy, physical, and they're coming with that attitude of, `Let's not let these young kids that they've got in the lineup have any success here.' I'm aware of it.

"I'm aware of the matchups that they're having against, basically, an AHL line, at any given time. And they battled and they competed and they executed. They hung in there, they believed in the structure, and that's what it takes. It's that kind of understanding, to let things happen the right way. It was good stuff."

The Kings did not practice Friday, and are also scheduled to take Saturday and Sunday off. They are scheduled to return to practice Monday at 10 a.m. and also skate Tuesday and Wednesday before the league-mandated Dec. 24-25 break.
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