|After taking a hit in the second period vs. Columbus on Thursday, Jack Johnson is questionable for Saturday at Boston.
Jack Johnson, the Kings and the United States Olympic hockey team apparently dodged a bullet in the second period Thursday night.
Johnson had to leave the game late in the period after getting caught in a collision with teammate Wayne Simmonds and Columbus’ Jarred Boll. Johnson practiced Friday, but his status for Saturday’s game at Boston likely won’t be known until the morning.
"I've got a sore arm," Johnson said after Friday’s practice. "Hopefully it's something that will get better each day. I'm just hoping it gets better sooner than later."
Johnson practiced Friday, but did not participate in vigorous shooting and passing drills. Asked, afterward, if he would be able to play, Johnson said, "I'd like to think so, but I have to make the smart decision for the long term. Hopefully I can, but we'll see."
If Johnson is unable to play, the Kings don’t have anyone to duplicate his strong two-way play, but they do have options. Davis Drewiske
, sidelined with a shoulder injury, has been cleared to play, and recent healthy scratch Randy Jones is also available.
Murray wasn’t ready to say, on Friday afternoon, whether Johnson would play.
"I don't know for sure," Murray said. "He wasn't really shooting or passing the puck as hard as he normally would. There's some soreness there. We'll see how he's getting through the day, and get an update tonight. Hopefully, we can know by tomorrow morning whether he's in or out, and not have to wait until game time."
Johnson has five goals and 14 assists in 52 games this season. READY TO GO
Murray said Drewiske, who has been out since Jan. 4 with a shoulder injury, has been cleared to play. All things being equal, Murray would prefer to play Drewiske on Sunday, not Saturday, but Johnson’s injury might complicate the situation.
"He now has the green light to get in and play,'' Murray said of Drewiske. "I'm not going to play him in back-to-back games. I don't want to risk that, but I would sure like to get him in one of the two.''
Murray said he didn’t anticipate making any non-injury-related lineup changes, and said Jonathan Quick
would start in goal Saturday. Murray did not publicly name a Sunday starter.
ON THE RISE AGAIN?Anze Kopitar
’s play appears to be back on the upswing. After a rough December and a series of new linemates, Kopitar seems to be settling in with wingers Brad Richardson
and Wayne Simmonds and has three goals in his last three games.
Kopitar had 21 points in 14 games in October, 12 points in 13 games in November, six points in 14 games in December and now has 14 points in 12 games in January.
Numbers can be deceiving, but Murray said Kopitar is playing as well as he was early in the season.
"I think he, personally, is playing as well, absolutely," Murray said. "He's skating, he wants the puck. He has the puck on his stick, he's attacking hard through the middle of the ice, challenging defensemen, and that's the stuff that we saw in the early part of the year. There's no question that when you go through the early part of the year, and then you lose both your wingers at different times, it definitely messes up some chemistry. With the two guys that are there right now, there's new energy.
"They're working very hard, trying to play hard for each other, two young guys who are trying to show the coaching staff that they're responsible players and they're capable of playing on a higher line. That elevates everybody, and that certainly has brought Kopi back to life, in my opinion." TWO PLUS TWO EQUALS...?
It seems as though the mystery of the Kings’ 5-on-3 goal in the third period Thursday will never totally get solved. Anze Kopitar
scored a goal with one second remaining in the two-man advantage, meaning the Kings should have stayed on the power play until the 28 remaining seconds on the second penalty expired.
But officials, for some reason, started play 5-on-5, and the Kings were not credited with a 5-on-3 goal. That got changed on Friday, and the statistics will now reflect that the Kings scored a 5-on-3 goal. The 28-second power play that should have taken place? Vanished.
Murray said he received an explanation from the officials during the game.
"There was a mistake made by the off-ice officials," Murray said. "The referees came over, later in the game, and kind of apologized for it. ... They called the referees back, after play had resumed, at the next stoppage, and said, `We messed up. There should have been one second left on that penalty.' But what do you do?"