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Kings Notebook (Nov. 29)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
ANAHEIM -- John Zeiler's NHL career has included a 19-month layover in Manchester, N.H., but now Zeiler is back with the Kings, hoping to become a keeper this time.


Zeiler, a 28-year-old fourth-line agitator, will be in the lineup tonight when the Kings take on the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. Called up this morning, after he cleared recall waivers, Zeiler is expected to play center, between wingers Brad Richardson and Kevin Westgarth.

Zeiler was with the AHL's Manchester Monarchs all of last season, and for the first two months of this season, but he's no stranger to the NHL. Zeiler played
86 games with the Kings, starting in 2007, but was a training-camp cut last year and this year.

Known for his energy, skating and hitting -- and, sometimes, his willingness to drop the gloves -- Zeiler admits that he won't be a top point producer, but the Kings see a need for his type of all-out play, particularly against a physical, division rival such as Anaheim,

``What we’re looking for is to just get that energy, that physicality, in there,'' coach Terry Murray said. ``The one thing that he has done, when he was here two years ago, is get in on the forecheck and get some bodies. It brings everybody into the game, whenever you’re playing that physical game.''

Zeiler made a name for himself two seasons ago with physical play, but as the Kings acquired players such as Kyle Clfford and Rich Clune, Zeiler faced stiff competition for an NHL roster spot.

In fact, Zeiler was one of the final training-camp cuts this year, as the Kings essentially chose to keep Clifford, a 19-year-old rookie, over Zeiler, who got assigned to Manchester.

``It was obviously bittersweet,'' Zeiler said ``You felt like you had a great camp. You felt like you could have been one of the guys who stayed, but it's just the way that game goes. It's a business, and it didn't stop me from going down to Manchester and just working hard. There's always someone watching you play. Hexy [assistant general manager Ron Hextall] was down there for quite a while, actually, watching some games, so it was a real good time to play hard.

``My role is not to come up here and score a bunch of goals, I know that. It takes some pressure of my back. I just go out and be positive, be a good teammate, get in on the forecheck, make some noise, agitate, hopefully draw some penalties so we can get on the power play tonight and score some goals.''

NO OTHER CHANGES

Zeiler will replace rookie Dwight King in the lineup, but otherwise there will be no other changes, Murray said. The Kings will stay with a first line of Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds, and will keep all three defensive pairs intact.

Jonathan Quick will start in goal again, and that could become a trend. The Kings don't play another set of back-to-back games until Dec. 26-27, so Murray has the ability to play Quick for a number of games in a row, if he chooses to do so.

``Quick was good (against Chicago on Saturday),'' Murray said. ``I thought he competed. He gave us real good play. His focus is tremendous, and I'm going to keep going with him right now.''

A TOUGH BREAK

Westgarth will wear a visor in tonight's game, the product of the broken nose he suffered in a fight Saturday night against Chicago's massive (6-foot-8) enforcer John Scott.

Westgarth's presence presents the possibility of an Ivy League battle. Both Westgarth and Ducks enforcer George Parros -- a former King -- are products of Princeton. The two have a good relationship, even though they got into a fight in the preseason.

Murray said he was impressed with Westgarth's willingness to play through his broken nose, as well as his willingness to take on Scott, something not many enforcers have tried.

``That’s a lesson for all of us to take,'' Murray said, ``to just go out and compete and battle hard and pay the price in order to get things turned around.
He did his job in that area (against Chicago).''

SCHENN TO RETURN

Brayden Schenn's two-week AHL conditioning assignment is complete, and Schenn finished with three goals, four assists and a plus-3 rating in seven games.

Schenn is expected to practice with the Kings on Tuesday, although it's not yet known when, or if, Schenn will play again for the Kings. Schenn has played eight games with the Kings, and after his ninth, the team must decide to return him to junior or use a year off his entry-level contract.

``We need to sit down, as a group, and discuss what the plan is going to be,''
Murray said. ``That will probably happen tomorrow, maybe even tonight.''

Schenn got to enjoy some success in Manchester. The Monarchs have won eight of their last nine games and swept their three weekend games by a combined score of 18-5.

NUMBERS DON'T LIE

The Kings have lost three consecutive games, and in each of them, they allowed the first goal. For the season, the Kings have a 3-7-0 record when allowing the game's first goal, and a 10-2-0 record when scoring the first goal.

Emphasis on scoring the first goal is nothing new for the Kings, as its importance has been preached by Murray since the start of training camp.

``It's always nice to score early and first,'' Murray said. ``Scoring right away, early in the game, the first half of the first period, is a nice thing for confidence. You can always sense that the players relax a little bit more, and there's also a buy-in on the other part of the game, the checking part of the game, where you're going to work hard at that, get the puck in deep and give your offensive game, now, more of an opportunity to work and be successful.

``So we're going to have to earn that right, to get our game turned around.
We've got a lot of work to do, and it's going to be a lot of hard work. We have to start here tonight.''
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