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Kings Notebook (Nov. 1)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Drew Doughty practiced today and could play Thursday against Tampa Bay.

EL SEGUNDO -- Drew Doughty took the ice Monday wearing an unfamiliar yellow practice jersey, but his mere presence was good news for the Kings.

Doughty has missed six consecutive games because of concussion symptoms, but seems on track for a return when the Kings host Tampa Bay on Thursday.

Doughty still must pass a cognitive-skills test -- commonly known as a baseline test -- before he is cleared for game action, but Doughty was able to participate in a full-team practice Monday and said he felt fine afterward.

``He's getting close,’’ coach Terry Murray said. ``The (jersey) color means you can participate in the full practice with no physical contact yet. So we'll get today and tomorrow in, and see where it's at after tomorrow's practice.’’

The Kings have yet to have their regular defense together for a game this season. Matt Greene missed the first six games while he recovered from shoulder surgery and now has played five games, all without Doughty.

The ice was crowded in practice Monday, as both Doughty and Scott Parse -- the two Kings players on injured reserve -- participated in full drills.

Parse has been out with a groin injury since the first preseason game but has been participating in practices for almost two weeks and seems close to a return.

It’s possible, though, that the Kings might send Parse to the AHL Manchester Monarchs for a brief conditioning assignment before his NHL return.

With the Kings not playing again until Thursday, Monday’s practice was the first real chance for Parse to get into some heavy drills with teammates.

``And it will be a harder practice tomorrow,’’ Murray said. ``We're going to get into more competitive drills, heavy skating, and if he comes through that all right, then we'll take a look at finding a way to start playing (him in) some games.’’

Since Murray’s first days as Kings coach, the team has prided itself on limiting opponents’ shots on goal and, by extension, opponents’ scoring chances.

Last season, the Kings ranked third in the NHL in average shots on goal allowed per game, at 27.6. Through 11 games this season, that number has risen to 29.5, putting the Kings at 15th in the league in that category.

And while the Kings are coming off consecutive wins over Dallas and New Jersey, they also allowed 32 and 40 shots, respectively, in those two games.

Murray was asked if the elevated shots totals in those two games concerned him.

``I kind of throw out the shot numbers against New Jersey, the shots against,’’ Murray said. ``That was a real hard game to come back and play, and you're up 3-1 and you're playing against a team that is trying to get their game on track. So they're going to risk a fair amount on the offensive side of the game.

``What I was pleased about, though, was that even though the number of shots, at the end of the day, was up, we limited those shots to pretty perimeter plays. They were outside the dots, and a lot from the neutral zone, actually. We pride ourselves on low numbers, shots, chances. We've gone 10 games so far, 11 games, and I would like to see a better number at the end of the next segment of 10 games, on shots against.’’

Before the season, Murray was firm in saying that he intended to play goalie Jonathan Quick in no more than 60 games this season and that he wanted backup Jonathan Bernier to play approximately once a week.

Quick is off to a strong start, ranking third in the NHL in save percentage (.936), fourth in goals-against average (1.84) and tied for first with seven wins.

But Murray said today that he would not be tempted to veer from his goalie plan.

``It doesn't change anything that I planned before the season started,’’ Murray said. ``I mapped it out, in pencil mind you, but it's mapped out through the start of the new year, and I'm going to follow that plan right now. Both goalies are young and hungry and want to play every game, I know, but we're going to stick with what we have in place, with Quick playing a majority of them.’’

It’s not known when Bernier might get another game. The Kings don’t have another set of back-to-back games until Nov. 19-20, and they play only six games over the next 17 days.

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