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Kings Notebook (Dec. 27)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Another second chance for Purcell?  Teddy will be on the Kings top line with Kopitar and Smyth in place of the injured Williams.

When the Kings lost Justin Williams to a broken leg, less than five minutes into the first period Saturday, coach Terry Murray took stock of his options.

Wayne Simmonds? He was there, but was in his first game back after knee surgery. Dustin Brown? He was there, and moved into that role in the third period. Teddy Purcell? He was in the press box.

But when the Kings practiced Sunday afternoon, Purcell went from one extreme to the other. He went from being a healthy scratch on Saturday to the Kings' first-line right winger on Sunday.

The Kings host Minnesota on Monday night at STAPLES Center, and with Williams facing a long-term injury, it seems as though Purcell will get the first opportunity to fill Williams' spot.

It's not Purcell's first opportunity, though. Purcell started the season as the Kings' second-line left winger, and also played two games on the first line when Ryan Smyth was out injured. Purcell has three goals and three assists in 35 games this season, and has one goal and zero assists in his last 21 games.

"It is another opportunity, and that's where he has to play," coach Terry Murray said. "He has to play on your top two lines. He's a skill player, makes plays, supposed to score goals, and he can. He just has to find it, and take advantage of the opportunity, now that he has been moved out, and down to different positions.

"This is where he does have to play, on the top two lines, and it so happens, because of Willie's injury, that it's going to be with Kopi. It's a pretty exciting opportunity for a young guy to get put in that position right now. We talked about it with him, and this is a critical point in the year for him, to take advantage of this opportunity."

Murray initially went with Simmonds on the top line, but then promoted Brown in the third period and went with Purcell in practice on Sunday.

"I put Simmer there last night, after the injury happened, for a few shifts, and it just didn't feel right to me," Murray said. "Simmer is just coming back from his injury. He's not on top of his game, and I felt the same with Smytty. Having two players in the same position now, serious injuries, timing, a little bit of game-situations not in place, it wasn't really the right thing, so I made the change with Brownie."

INJURY UPDATES

Murray said Williams will see Dr. Michael Mellman on Monday, and Murray theorized that Williams will need some type of surgery in the near future.

The news is better for Jarret Stoll, who remains out with a strained groin but might be able to skate Monday.

"Stoll is getting better," Murray said. "He worked out again, on the off-ice, doing some bounding. If he gets through this OK, feeling good, especially tomorrow morning, then (trainer Chris Kingsley) is talking about letting him get on the ice and start to get skating again. It's improving."

NEW LINES?

Without Williams, and with Stoll still out, the Kings had to modify their forward lines again Sunday.

Kopitar centered Smyth and Purcell, Michal Handzus centered Alexander Frolov and Dustin Brown, Oscar Moller centered Brad Richardson and Simmonds, and Peter Harrold centered Raitis Ivanans and Brandon Segal.

Still open is the possibility that at least one player will be called up from Manchester before the game. The Monarchs played Sunday and beat Providence 2-0.

HIT THE NET

The Kings were presented with a golden opportunity to tie Saturday's game against Phoenix.

Trailing 3-2 late in the third period, they got two excellent plays from Matt Greene and Handzus, both of whom cleared pucks from the crease that had gotten behind goalie Jonathan Quick.

Then, two Phoenix power plays, coupled with Murray's decision to pull Quick, gave the Kings a rare 6-on-3 advantage for 46 seconds in the final minute. The Kings won the faceoff, but Jack Johnson sent two slap shots wide of the net and the Kings ultimately failed to score.

Not surprisingly, Murray, who has spent time this season talking about the importance of getting pucks on net, was not pleased with the wide shots.

"You want to hit the net," Murray said. "That's the one thing that's most important, especially when you're shooting the puck from up top. You just want to get the traffic and hit the net. Now you're looking for those other opportunities. To come away from an opportunity like that, in a critical point in the game, it's disappointing. It's a 6-on-3, and you have lots of time on the clock.

"Show composure and patience, move it around. You don't even have to get pucks to the net that quickly. It doesn't have to be a one-timer immediately like that. You can set it up and look for other situations. We have to grow from it. We have to learn from that situation and be better next time."
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