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Kings Notebook (Dec. 22)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
The line of Brad Richardson, Michal Handzus and Dustin Brown appears to be staying in tact.

The Kings have not been exempt from the hectic holiday travel, although Corey Elkins, Oscar Moller and Brandon Segal no doubt were more than happy to put up with the long airport lines.

Elkins and Moller were officially called up from Manchester of the AHL today to join Elkins, who arrived in town a couple days earlier. It's possible that all three young players will be in the lineup when the Kings resume game action Saturday at Phoenix.

Jarret Stoll remains out with a groin strain. If Stoll is unable to play Saturday, the Kings are likely to go with a second line of Michal Handzus centering Brad Richardson and Dustin Brown and a third line of Moller centering Alexander Frolov and Wayne Simmonds.

That would leave Elkins, Raitis Ivanans, Teddy Purcell and Segal for three spots on the fourth line. If Stoll is able to play Saturday, it's highly likely that either Moller or Segal will be re-assigned to Manchester.

"I just try to stay positive wherever I am, whether I'm in Manchester or here,'' Moller said after practice Tuesday, "and try to contribute as much as I can with the role I've been given.''

Moller's reunion with the Kings was delayed. He was supposed to fly back to Los Angeles on Sunday, but poor weather in Boston prevented him from getting a flight until Tuesday morning.

Then there was Elkins, whose journey started eight days ago in Manchester. He was called up to the Kings, joined them in Edmonton, flew with them to Calgary and Los Angeles, then flew back to Manchester. He played one game, flew to his family's home in Michigan for the start of the AHL holiday break, then flew to Los Angeles on Tuesday morning after being recalled by the Kings.

Less than an hour after his plane landed, Elkins was on the ice in El Segundo for practice.

Scott Parse, who had four goals and seven assists in 27 games with the Kings, was assigned to Manchester at the start of the Kings' break, but apparently will not be recalled before Saturday's game.

General manager Dean Lombardi said he wanted to keep two centers (Moller and Elkins) on the roster, with Stoll's status uncertain, rather than another winger in Parse.

"We wanted to give ourselves two options in the middle,'' Lombardi said. "On the wing, we’ve got (Ryan) Smyth back and Segal is close. I like Segal on the fourth line. I thought he did OK before and I’m curious how that looks. With the centers, Elkins is clearly a fourth-line center but Moller could move up.''

Stoll is questionable for Saturday and defenseman Randy Jones remains doubtful. Neither player practiced Tuesday, and Jones is still experiencing neck pain and slight headaches during off-ice workouts.

Coach Terry Murray reiterated, though, that Jones is not being treated for a concussion.

"He went to the doctor (Monday),'' Murray said, "and the doctor is not concerned about this slight headache, whenever you do some exercise. The headache is not the key that says, `You have to stop all activity.' He's encouraging him to keep going, ride the bike, and if it's just a slight headache, then there's no sense of alarm with that, you can continue to go through it. He said he felt much better after about 15 minutes, 18 minutes today, so that's a good thing. He'll keep doing it tomorrow.''

Wayne Simmonds, in his second day back at practice, said his repaired knee felt good and that he had shed a protective sleeve that had been causing him discomfort.

Smyth and Segal completed another day of practice, as did Jack Johnson, who is practicing with a protective shield on the side of his skate. Murray indicated this week that Johnson, Segal, Simmonds and Smyth all should be ready to play Saturday.

The Kings practiced with different lines than they did Monday, and it seems as though they're prepared to go forward with a second line of Richardson, Handzus and Brown.

That line was thrown together last week, after Stoll's injury, but performed well, with Richardson and Brown, in particular, showing some spark together.

"I thought the line was effective,'' Murray said. "They seemed to be developing some pretty good chemistry, scored some big goals. I just want to continue with that. Hopefully it can grow.''

Murray said he was also motivated, on the third line, to pair the smaller Moller with a big, puck-controlling winger in Frolov, who can help draw some pressure from opponents.
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