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Kings Notebook (March 16)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Richardson will be getting top-six minutes vs. Chicago on Thursday.

Brad Richardson is proving himself to be irrepressible this season.

A fringe roster player last season, and a fourth-liner at the start of this season, Richardson has consistently shown that he deserves to play on one of the Kings' top two lines.

It seems as though he will get that opportunity again Thursday, when the Kings host the Chicago Blackhawks. Richardson is expected to skate as the Kings' second-line center, between left winger Alexander Frolov and right winger Dustin Brown.

Richardson has 10 goals and 13 assists in 67 games this season, numbers that don't exactly scream "top-six forward," but throughout this season, Richardson has been a strong complementary forward because of his hustle and responsible play.

In Sunday's loss to Nashville, Richardson started as the fourth-line center, but moved up to the second line at the start of the third period as a reward for his solid play.

"They go right out and they score a goal," Kings coach Terry Murray said after Tuesday's practice. "Brownie gets his goal on that next shift. I thought a lot of that was a credit to Richardson and his speed. He was on top of the puck. He was creating some turnovers, so I stayed with it the rest of that period, the rest of the game.

"I liked it. I liked the way they kind of picked up their tempo, their intensity, and pushed the comfort level of their [Nashville] defensemen to create those turnovers and make some plays in the offensive zone. So I'll stay with here, for another couple days, and see how it goes."

Richardson, a natural center, has split his time this season between center and left wing, and said he feels equally comfortable at both positions.

He might have some built-in chemistry with Brown. The two paired on a successful line earlier this season, with Richardson on the left and Stoll at center.

"Brownie is pretty easy to play with," Richardson said. "You know what he's going to do. He's high-energy, he's hitting everything and he's going to the net hard. He's a pretty easy guy to read off, because I kind of know what he's going to do.

"We're both kind of trying to do the same things, get in there and finish checks. He obviously finishes more checks, and a little harder too, but he's a great guy to play with. You know, if you get him the puck, he's going to shoot it toward the net, so any time he's got it, you want to get to the net."

Other than the Richardson-Stoll swap, the Kings' lines remained the same in practice, with Anze Kopitar centering Ryan Smyth and Justin Williams, Michal Handzus centering Fredrik Modin and Wayne Simmonds, and Stoll centering Rich Clune and Jeff Halpern, with Halpern moving from center to right wing. Kings Lines

Peter Harrold's wife, Casey, gave birth to the couple's son, Lincoln James Harrold, at 12:24 a.m. Tuesday. Harrold missed Tuesday's practice to be with his new family.

Harrold's son was born just four days after Jonathan Quick's daughter, Madison.

Justin Williams, who returned last week after missing 2 1/2 months a broken leg, now has played two games, and saw his minutes increase in the second game.

Williams played 12 minutes, 15 seconds, in his return on Friday against Dallas, then played 15:18 on Saturday against Nashville. Williams has zero points, a minus-1 rating and four shots on goal in the two games while playing on the first line.

"Not bad, not bad," Murray said of Williams' play. "I think, with the severity of the injury that he went through, to come back and be playing at this time, first of all is pretty amazing to me. To get out on the ice, with the emotional side of the game, without hesitancy, without any fear, without any kind of reluctance to play the game in those tight situations, is pretty impressive to me.

"It will take some time, some games, to get that flow back, to get a little bit of the rust off, to hopefully get that chemistry back that they had at the start of the year. But I'm going to work through it and stay with it."

Entering Tuesday, the Kings' "magic number" for clinching a playoff spot was 19, that being the number of points the Kings must earn and/or the ninth-place team in the Western Conference must lose in order for the Kings to clinch a spot.

Murray said he was unaware of the number, or it's significance.

"I care, but I'm not aware of it," Murray said. "I don't look at the standings every day. I do look at them. It's not like the first thing I do in the morning is get on the computer and look at the standings in the Western Conference. I'm focused on the game. We've got to bounce back from the loss we had against Nashville and did not play well, to a game that's going to be a very intense game against Chicago.

"They're one of the premier teams in the game, and we have to get ourselves back on pace, back on track again, to play the game the right way. It's the positioning and execution, things we've done very well."
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