The Kings held morning skate at Toyota Sports Center with one very notable absence, rookie forward Oscar Moller.
MOLLER OUT UNTIL AT LEAST THE ALL-STAR BREAK
Moller who started the season with the Kings after winning a roster spot out of training camp, was assigned to Team Sweden at the World Junior Championships on Dec. 19. A Team Captain, Moller posted 1-3=4 in six games, leading Sweden to a Silver medal. Moller, however, injured his shoulder at the six-minute mark of the second period of Team Sweden's 5-0 win over Russia on Dec. 31. He did not return to the game but played in each of the Team's remaining two games.
Moller was recalled to the Kings on Jan. 6 and skated yesterday at practice and was expected to return to the lineup. However, after suffering from some soreness in his shoulder, the Kings medical staff inspected the injury and discovered a fractured clavicle. Moller will miss at least the next seven games and will be re-evaluated after the all-star break.
"It was a fracture of his clavicle," Kings head coach Terry Murray said. "It happened in the World Juniors in the game against the Russians, he played the rest of the way with it and practiced. He went to the doctors yesterday afternoon because he was having some issues with it and it revealed a fracture in the clavicle.
"It will definitely be after the All-Star Break and after that we will just evaluate it as we go forward.”
Yesterday at practice, Moller spoke to LAKings.com about the World Juniors tournament and his experience there.
"It was a lot of fun. Too bad we did not get the gold," Moller said. "It was a great experience for me and it was a great thing for my county. The atmosphere was unbelievable in the final. You couldn't even hear the refs, you couldn't hear anything. I really enjoyed every moment there.
"Just wearing the 'C' was an honor for me."
After practice, Moller expressed his desire to return to the Kings lineup
"I think you need to get on the ice a few times to get used to the speed of this game again, but I want to just get back in there."
Moller will have to wait until after the all-star break to do so. Moller has tallied 6-7=13 in 30 games this season, and has added one assist in three games vs. Anaheim in 2008-09, the Kings opponent tonight at STAPLES Center.
LINE UP SHAKE UP
As Los Angeles continues to attempt to get their offense going, the Kings shook up their lines, moving Michal Handzus, who centered Alexander Frolov and Wayne Simmonds, to play with Kyle Calder and Brown. Kopitar will center for Frolov and Simmonds. Calder and Patrick O'Sullivan switched lines as well, as O'Sullivan joined a line with Jarret Stoll and Teddy Purcell. Here is the Kings projected line up for tonight.
"We had some different lines out there today, let's take a look and see how it goes," Murray said. "I liked the second half of the third period against the Flyers, I had Simmonds up with Kopitar and the result was good. Change is necessary right now. We need to find a way to score goals. We have talked about it quite a bit, some things are looking good as far as the offensive part of the game, but we need to put a focus on it."
In practice yesterday, the Kings had many drills designed to increase the offensive awareness of the club.
"We need to do things right in practice in the offensive part of the attacks, we had several drills Wednesday to push that part of the game.We will continue to build on that, not getting away from the defensive part but adding the offensive part."
QUICK BETTER, TO START TONIGHT
Jonathan Quick, who missed Tuesday night's game at the Anaheim Ducks due to a sore throat, is feeling better and will start tonight vs. the Ducks. Quick had started the Kings previous six games since starting on Dec. 20 in a 6-4 loss at Detroit. In his last five appearances, Quick is 3-2-0 with two shutouts, a 0.80 goals-against average (4 GA in 301:52) and a .970 save percentage (128 saves in 132 shots). Overall Quick has stopped 165 of 175 shots in seven appearances (.943 save percentage) since his call-up from Manchester on Dec. 16.
"Monday in practice, I felt a little weak," Quick said. "I took a nap in the afternoon and woke up and got on the bus to Anaheim and was feeling a little less healthy. [That night] I couldn't sleep a wink and I couldn't get out of bed Tuesday morning. I went down to practice and I knew I couldn't go.
"I knew I couldn't play. I didn't want to go and have a terrible effort for the team, I didn't think the team would appreciate that kind of effort. I knew I wasn't going to be able to give them what they needed."
In his absence, Erik Ersberg made his first start since suffering a groin injury on Dec. 15.
Ersberg stopped 23-of-25 shots in the Kings 3-1 loss on Tuesday, who was notified that he would be playing at the morning skate. .
"You have to be ready, those things happen," Ersberg said. "I felt good out there."
Ersberg had not made a save since Dec. 15 and would have to wait a while longer as the Kings held Anaheim without a shot on net until 13:12 into the game when Ersberg stopped Scott Neidermayer's slap shot.
"It took over 10 minutes until they had a shot on goal," Ersberg said. "I got to skate a little bit and follow the puck early but it took a while for that first shot. It felt pretty good out there."
Ersberg will back up Quick tonight, as Quick declared himself healthy after practice yesterday. Ersberg now is winless in four starts against the Ducks (0-2-2), despite posting a .949 SV% and a 1.48 GAA average in 244 minutes against Anaheim.
"What counts is a win," Ersberg said. "One win in four games is not good enough, but that helps you raise your game, since you lost that last one, you want to get a win next time."
DUSTIN BROWN AN ALL-STAR
Dustin Brown was selected to play for the Western Conference All-Star squad at the 2009 NHL All-Star Game at Montreal's Bell Centre on Sunday, Jan. 25, at 3 p.m. PT, the NHL announced on Wednesday.
"It's obviously a great honor and I am excited to go and play in this game and to represent the Kings," said Brown. "It should be a lot of fun and I am looking forward to the experience in Montreal."
Murray was excited for his young captain.
"I was happy to see that," Murray said. "I am glad to see there is recognition for our team. Dustin is a real good player and he is representing the Kings. We know he is going to go into that game and wear the LA Kings sweater and be very proud about it. He is representing all of the guys here.
Kyle Calder will play in 100th game as a King tonight...When the Kings host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 12, it will be the first regular season match up of the first two picks in that year's NHL Entry Draft since Oct. 22, 2003, when Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury, the 2003 No. 1 Draft pick, stopped 35-of-36 shots including four of Carolina's Eric Staal’s shots, the 2003 No. 2 pick overall, in a 1-1 tie. It will also mark just the fifth pair of top picks to play each other in their draft year since 1990, the others being Fleury and Staal (2003); Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau (1997); Alexander Daigle and Chris Pronger (1993) and Owen Nolan and Petr Nedved (1990)...Kings defenseman Jack Johnson is expected to elevate to "on-ice contact" in the middle of next week's practice schedule. Johnson has missed 36 games with a shoulder injury. "That's the plan," Johnson said. "It is almost the All-Star break, so we are hoping any day now. We are still on schedule. I had no idea what to expect, I am just rolling with it. When I start the contact, it is going to be like training camp. I just look forward to getting back in the groove and playing games. I am excited about hitting again and I haven't taken a slap shot in a while, I was told that will be the last thing to come. Once that black jersey comes on, I will be ready." Johnson had skated with the team in a yellow "no-contact" jersey for about a month.