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Kings Notebook (Nov. 20)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Will Frolov become more of a front of the net presence for the Kings?

When Ryan Smyth is on the ice, it's usually easy to find him. Just look to the front of the opponents' net. With Smyth out injured for the next month, who will fill that role?

The Kings need to find the answer quickly, starting with Saturday afternoon's home game against Calgary. Smyth, likely out for the next month with an upper-body injury, fueled the first line's strong play with his "net presence," one of coach Terry Murray's favorite terms, something that was lacking in the Kings' loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Alexander Frolov replaced Smyth as the first-line left wing, and while Frolov is a proven 30-goal scorer, he's more of a puck-possession player than a gritty winger.

"We have to get to the net a little more often," center Anze Kopitar said Friday. "With Smytty before, he was there all the time, so we didn't have to worry about that, but now we're going to have to crash a couple more times a game and just get to used to it."

Kopitar's production, in particular, is important because the Kings have a 13-5 record when Kopitar records at least one point and an 0-3-2 record when he doesn't score.

Murray said he was pleased with some of the line's play during Wednesday's loss, but needs more production.

"As a team, we were at the net pretty good in the first 15 games," Murray said. "Specifically with that line, that was a big part of their success early. Right now, and I showed that in the video today, in the team review, we’re not establishing that presence. We’re reluctant to shoot the puck because of it, because we’re kind of waiting for someone to get there."

Throughout his career, Frolov has faced, to various extents, criticism that he doesn't shoot the puck enough. In the context of his new role, on the Kings' first line, that surfaced again Wednesday when Frolov recorded only one shot on goal.

Frolov, who has recorded two or fewer shots in each of his last six games, said he recognizes the importance of getting pucks to the net.

"Yeah, you have to shoot more, for sure," Frolov said.. "You have to try to shoot as often as you can. Sometimes it's better to pass, especially if someone is in a better position than you are, but the bottom line is, you still have to shoot it and put some pucks on net so we can score and have something good happen.

"Probably we have to focus on that more, to get somebody in front of the net, some net presence. That's what we're talking about lately."

Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi will miss Saturday's game with his lower-body injury. Murray said the plan is for Scuderi to skate, by himself and without pads, Sunday morning, and Murray said he hopes Scuderi will be able to return Wednesday.

Jonathan Quick will start in goal for the Kings against Calgary, and Murray said that he has not "penciled in" backup Erik Ersberg for a game any time soon.

Quick has started 21 of the Kings' 23 games, and the Kings have back-to-back games against Edmonton and Vancouver next week, but it seems as though Murray is prepared to start Quick in both games.

Quick has a 2.69 goals-against average and a .897 save percentage. Ersberg has a 4.18 goals-against average and a .808 save percentage in three games (seven periods).

"I'm certainly not going to forget about (Ersberg)," Murray said. "He won a game for us there (at Carolina). He played well. Another game is going to be coming up soon. We do have 13 of 14 conference games here before the holiday break, so it's a heavy load and it's a demanding load. I'm going to keep awareness to Ersberg."


The Kings, on Saturday, will flip left wings on their bottom two lines, as Raitis Ivanans moves up to skate with Michal Handzus and Wayne Simmonds while Teddy Purcell skates on the fourth line with Brad Richardson and Peter Harrold.

``I need to get more minutes from Richardson and Harry, and now with Raitis going up there for tomorrow’s game, I just need to get them more involved,'' Murray said. I think it’s very demanding for your top two lines, top three lines, to be playing over that 20-plus (minutes) each night.''

The Kings hosted 100 kids from Charles White Elementary School at Toyota Sports Center for a Thanksgiving Celebration Friday...Photos

They watched Kings practice, followed by floor hockey and lunch provided by Rubios. These children, part of the American Heart Association’s Alliance for Healthier Generation program, were rewarded for their healthy eating and active lifestyle.

The Kings are part of the empowerMe movement and collaboratively work with the American Heart Association at a grassroots level to provide kids with a hockey experience at local schools and youth organizations.
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