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Kings Notebook (Oct. 13)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Erik Ersberg is slated to start vs. New York on Wednesday.
NEW YORK - A spectator for five games, Erik Ersberg will now get a chance in goal.

Ersberg is scheduled to start his first game of the season Wednesday against the New York Rangers, as Jonathan Quick takes a seat after a 4-1 start. Quick is expected back in goal when the Kings face Detroit on Thursday.

The timing might seem curious, since the Kings have won four consecutive games and Quick has been at his best in the last two, but coach Terry Murray made the goaltending plan before the start of the road trip and said he had no thoughts about deviation.

"No, there hasn't been any hesitation on my part," Murray said. "This is something that we planned out before the season started. It's just time to get going.

"I talked to Erik three or four days ago, to let him know that he was in. He's very excited, obviously, to get his first start of the season, playing against a fellow Swede too. It's a good challenge for him. Throughout the training camp and the practices, he's working very hard. I remember, a couple times last year, putting him in when he hadn't played in three or four weeks, and he ended up playing extremely well."

Ersberg started 25 games last season and had a 2.64 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage. Last season, Ersberg didn't win a game in regulation after Dec. 13. He finished 1-6-4, with an overtime victory over Dallas on March 5.

In five of those losses, Ersberg allowed two or fewer goals, but the Kings' anemic offense didn't provide much support. Against a Rangers team that has scored 24 goals in six games, Ersberg figures to need some support Wednesday.

"We're playing great so far," Ersberg said, "so we just have to keep playing our system and our style, and I think we're going to be OK."

The Kings' first-line players -- Anze Kopitar, Ryan Smyth and Justin Williams -- have totaled nine goals and 14 assists in five games, including even-strength and power-play time. The second-line players – Dustin Brown, Teddy Purcell and Jarret Stoll – have totaled two goals (from Purcell) and eight assists.

That's quite an imbalance, and could become a problem when the top line inevitably has a dip in production, but Murray said he's not concerned about second-line scoring.

Murray on Tuesday pointed out the number of chances the second line generated. Brown, Purcell and Stoll combined for 10 of the Kings' 22 shots, and the line was on the ice when Drew Doughty scored his third-period goal. Stoll made the strong cross-ice pass that led to Doughty's slap shot.

"I really like what the second line is doing, talking about Stoll's line," Murray said. "They generated some real good stuff (against the Islanders). The puck didn't end up in the net, but Brownie had chances, Purcell came down and made some real nice plays off that left-wing side, shooting the puck and making nice passes to the middle-lane drive guy, both Stoll and Brown at different.

"The concept and the structure is there, and they've got a pretty good feel for each other out there. If they keep doing what they did last night on the offensive part of it, they'll put numbers up."

Sean O'Donnell turned 38 on Tuesday, and during a drill late in practice, teammates harmonized the "Happy Birthday'' song in his honor.

With a victory Wednesday, the Kings would match the franchise record for the best six-game start to a season. The 1980-81 and 1992-93 teams both started 5-1-0. The Kings tied the franchise record for best five-game start, matching four other Kings teams.

The last time the Kings started a season 4-1-0 was 1992-93.

Check out the chart below for the best five-game starts in Kings History:

West Division finished 5th
(did not qualify for postseason)
Norris Division finished 2nd
(lost in preliminary round 1 game to 3 NY Rangers)
Smythe Division finished 2nd
(lost in Division Finals 0 games to 4 to Calgary)
Smythe Division finished 3rd
(lost in Stanley Cup Finals 1 game to 4 to Montreal)
West Division finished 2nd
(Lost in Quarterfinals 3 games to 4 to Minnesota)

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