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Kings Notebook (Jan. 1)

by Thomas LaRocca / Los Angeles Kings
Segal's promotion to the Kings No. 2 line resulted in three goals and three assists last night vs. Minnesota.

After last night’s 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild and one of the Kings best efforts of the season, Los Angeles kicked off the New Year with a spirited practice at Toyota Sports Center from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. while some Kings were eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the Winter Classic and the announcement of Team USA.

Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson and Jonathan Quick all received Olympic invites as Team USA general manager Brian Burke announced the roster following the Bruins 2-1 OT victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park.

"To get this news is an unbelievable feeling and a real dream come true," said Johnson, "I have dreamed of this moment for a long time and being a U.S. Olympian is a true honor."

Johnson added that his biggest memory of the Olympics was Michael Johnson and his gold shoes.

Dustin Brown had this to say about his selection: "This could be a once-in-a-lifetime shot and any time you get the chance to play in the Olympics and to represent your country it is a huge honor. I got the call this morning and needless to say it is a dream come true and an experience I am really looking forward to."

Quick, who is expected to back up Ryan Miller and Tim Thomas, is also very excited about the selection though playing time might be tough.

"It is real exciting as it is something you dream about growing up. It is such a unique opportunity as you play with the best from your country against the best in the world. I am looking forward to it but I still have a job to do over the next six weeks so I will be taking things one day at a time."

Quick added that "Thomas and Miller are great goaltenders and have a lot of experience. I am going to go into like there is a spot up for grabs.

"At the end of the day, you want to be in the net."

In last night’s win over Minnesota, Dustin Brown was promoted to the Kings top line with Anze Kopitar and Ryan Smyth, that line stayed in tact at practice today as there were no lineup changes.

"Obviously, [Smyth and Kopitar] have been playing together well all year and with Willie going down, obviously there was an opportunity to jump up there," Brown said. "Kopi and I played together for three years. It will take a game or two to get acclimated to their style of their play. It is different then playing with Fro and Handzus."

Brandon Segal took Brown’s place on the second line with Alexander Frolov and Michal Handzus, while the Kings third line of Brad Richardson, Scott Parse and Wayne Simmonds stayed in tact. Segal, Handzus and Frolov combined for three goals and three assists.

"The lines took a long time to decide on what I wanted to do," head coach Terry Murray said. "Segal moving up, he really responded, he was hard on the forecheck and very physical."

The Kings fourth line might see some change as Raitis Ivanans, Teddy Purcell, Peter Harrold and Oscar Moller all skated in yellow today, but with the Capitals not using an enforcer in their lineup, it was speculated that Purcell would rejoin the lineup on Saturday.

"I will take a look at the lineup," Murray said, "and decide whether I will go that way or not."

Randy Jones skated for the first time since experiencing an upper body injury on Dec. 15 at Edmonton that has caused the blueliner to miss the last five games. He is not expected to play tomorrow but his return to the ice was very promising.

Jarret Stoll also returned to the ice wearing the red no contact jersey. He is listed as out for tomorrow vs. Washington, but his return is close.

"Both guys are doing well," Murray said. "We will get a read on Stoll here after practice. Before practice he was in the weight room doing an intense workout and if he is feeling good, then we will continue and hopefully have him back. Same with Jones, this is his first day back on the ice and he felt really good about everything before practice. I will get some feedback from the medical staff."

The company line with the Kings is that they don’t prepare so much for opponents in as much as they focus on playing their own game, regardless of the opponent. That can be a little tough though when Alexander Ovechkin and the high powered Washington Capitals, who lead the NHL with 144 goals, come to town.

"There will be some conversation about [Ovechkin], but a lot of the focus is on us," Murray said. "In general, I don’t spend a lot of time on the opponent, it is more about us. Obviously, when you have a premium player like that, you have to bring it to everyone’s attention. Whether it’s a line or the back end, there has to be attention to that."

Defenseman Drew Doughty added, "We know they have a lot of firepower up front and in the back end. We have to keep it simple and play a solid defensive game. We have to play physical and play a strong defensive game and get pucks deep and be strong on the forecheck and not take any stupid penalties."
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