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Kings Notebook (Jan. 20)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Matt Greene will return to the lineup tomorrow.

In search of a spark, the Kings will make at least one, and perhaps two, lineup changes for Thursday night's game against Buffalo at STAPLES Center.

The first is certain, and obvious.

Defenseman Matt Greene, who has missed four games with a lower-body injury, will return to the lineup. Rookie defenseman Alec Martinez was assigned to Manchester of the AHL on Wednesday.

Martinez, though, had been a healthy scratch from the previous three games, so it's not yet known whose place in the lineup Greene will take tomorrow.

The other, potential, lineup change is trickier. After Wednesday's practice, coach Terry Murray said he's considering the possibility of returning Teddy Purcell to the lineup.

Purcell has been a healthy scratch from nine consecutive games, kept on the sidelines because Murray was dissatisfied with Purcell's lack of offensive production.

But before his lengthy deactivation, Purcell was regularly included in the Kings' power-play unit, an area that, of late, has needed some serious improvement. In their last four games, the Kings are 0-for-21 on the power play, leading Murray to evaluate the possibility of returning Purcell to the lineup Thursday.

"There's a potential that he could go in," Murray said. "I've got to think about that. We're looking for some power-play creativity. He can bring that. He's got skill and he's been out of the lineup for a while. I can't let him sit there and just die on the vine.

"He's been doing everything that we could possibly have asked from him, off the ice and on-ice work. So there is a fairness thing that kicks in here, too. And if you're not getting the job done, in some areas that you feel need to be adjusted, then that's a change that I have to take a look at."

Ryan Smyth missed practice Wednesday, but not because of injury or for "therapy."

Smyth received the honor of participating in the Olympic torch relay, which passed through his hometown of Banff, a mountain town in Alberta, west of Calgary.

Smyth was scheduled to participate in the event, and run with the torch, early Wednesday evening and then return to Los Angeles. Smyth, nicknamed "Captain Canada" for his international experience, won a gold medal in the 2002 Olympics and also was a member of Canada's 2006 Olympic team.

Kings captain Dustin Brown cut to the chase after the Kings' 5-1 loss to San Jose on Wednesday when he said the Kings didn't "come out and show up."

That's perhaps the strongest, and most general, criticism that can be dealt to a team, but there were no dissenters to Brown's opinion in the Kings' locker room.

Murray and his players talked about the need for individual responsibility, and one of the Kings' most veteran players, Michal Handzus, stressed the need for a different attitude for a Kings team that currently holds the eighth, and final, playoff spot in the West.

"We should be excited," Handzus said. "This is what we were talking about last night. We should be excited that we are in this spot. At the end of January, it hasn't been like that for a while here, so we should be excited, we should be happy and we should fight for it. It's a mental thing and we have to figure it out. That's key, and if we get that, I think we'll go right up. But it's sometimes very hard to figure it out.

"That's our goal, and I think it comes from the individual. Everybody has got to prepare. Obviously the leaders have to take care of it and lead the way. That's very important, that the leaders show, on ice -- especially at the start -- and everybody will follow."

In seeking to illustrate the need for the Kings to bring strong awareness to the start of games, and the difficulty of playing a team such as San Jose, Murray raised an interesting comparison.

"When you play San Jose, to me, it's a 10-handicap golfer playing against a 2-handicap golfer," Murray said. "The 2-handicap golfer, all he has to do is play the game. He's waiting for the 10-handicapper to make that decision with the wedge instead of the 9-iron, and he leaves it short of the green. They're just waiting for you to make that turnover, that mistake, and that's what happened to us last night. We made that decision, and it was the wrong one.

"That's a big part of this process, getting that mentality, the attitude, of 20 players on that same page. That's a process. That takes a long time. That's why teams go to the Stanley Cup Finals, and it might take them another couple years to get there again, because it's a hard lesson to learn."

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