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Kings Notebook (Nov. 30)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Three of Drew Doughty's six power-play goals have been on the power play.

It seems simple enough. If one team has five skaters on the ice and the other team has four, the advantage is clear and the team with the advantage should be able to score, or at least generate pressure.

It's not always as simple as it seems, though. Good passing, smart decisions and an aggressive attitude are needed, and often in the past four games, the Kings have lacked those elements. The Kings are 0 for 13 on the power play in their last four games, but they managed to win two of those games.

Every team can go into a power-play rut, but the Kings not only aren't scoring, they're not giving themselves a lot of chances to score. In those 13 power plays, the Kings have totaled only 14 shots on goal.

"The more shots you get, it makes the other team back off," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said, "and when they do back off, they'll be expecting a shot, and that opens up seams and opens things up down low. I think we've been struggling to get set up a couple times, too, and I think if we can get in quick and get a couple early shots, we can kind of set them back and get things opened up."

Doughty also stressed the importance of making good choices with the puck in the neutral zone, either carrying the puck in with speed or dumping it and chasing it down.

The Kings' possession time on the power play Saturday against Chicago seemed significantly improved, which might be the first step toward generating some scoring opportunities.

"We're doing all the right things there," coach Terry Murray said. "It's now a matter of being able to finish. I think there were some opportunities passed up on the back end, in particular. When you get it up top, it's a great opportunity to get the puck to the net. There are people there, there is traffic and everything else is in place. We need to be able to depend on that. It's really important."

Entering Monday's games, the Kings were tied for 17th in the NHL in power-play efficiency, at exactly 20 percent. Tuesday's opponent, Anaheim, ranks 23rd in penalty-kill efficiency, but then again, two teams that recently shut down the Kings, Vancouver and Edmonton, rank 22nd and 25th, respectively.

Doughty stressed the importance of generating chances, even if they don't lead directly to goals.

"If you're hitting the post or you're getting a scramble in front of the net and the other team's goalie has to make a big save," Doughty said, "the guys on the bench are getting excited for the chance, and when they get out there for the next shift they know that the other team is kind of sitting back because we did have those chances. That's our chance to jump on them and hopefully get a goal."

INJURY REPORT
Rob Scuderi participated in a full practice again Monday, but Murray once again said Scuderi was "questionable" for Tuesday's game due to a lower-body injury.

When Scuderi got hurt, in a Nov. 14 game at Tampa Bay, Murray said it was possible that Scuderi might miss only one game. If Scuderi doesn't play tomorrow, he will have missed seven games.

"Those things just linger, it seems," Murray said of the still-undisclosed injury. "You want to make sure it's 100 percent before getting back into the action. There's nothing worse than a setback."

ON THE UPSWING
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick laughed when asked if it was just coincidence that his first three games with new goalie pads have arguably been his three best games of the season.

"Good timing, I guess," Quick said.

Good timing for the Kings, as well, who have given up more than their usual share of shots in the last three games but have received some outstanding, confident play in net from Quick.

Quick stopped 32 shots to beat Chicago on Saturday and 22 shots to beat Edmonton on Wednesday. He allowed three goals in a loss to Vancouver on Thursday but made 30 saves and played well.

"He was tremendous in the game at Vancouver and very big in our game against Chicago," Murray said, "a big part of our penalty killing against one of the premier teams. He made some big stops. I think playing lots is benefiting him. He's really getting into a groove and into a zone where he's feeling good about his game and it looks to me that he's playing, right now, like he showed us last year at the end of the season."
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