The Kings took to the ice today for an hour-long practice starting at 11 a.m. Drew Doughty
, who missed much of the Kings 6-3 win over Anaheim on Tuesday and then missed practice on Wednesday due to flu-like symptoms, returned to the ice today for a full practice. As did Michal Handzus, who did not skate yesterday.
Murray Practice Report
DOUGHTY IN; QUINCEY MAYBE
According to Kings head coach Terry Murray, Doughty is “feeling good,” and “will be back in the lineup tomorrow.”
Kyle Quincey skated at practice today and may possibly get a look in the Kings lineup tomorrow as well.
“I like what I see out there,” Murray said of Quincey. “He is moving very well. He has a nice head on his shoulders.
“He sees the ice and he is taking a look when he has the puck on his stick. I am interested in getting him into the lineup.”
Peter Harrold took 24 shifts for 17:55 TOI, tallying an assist, on the power play, and finishing with two PIM and a -1 rating on Tuesday vs. Anaheim, his season debut and the Kings first game since losing Jack Johnson for 2-3 months.
Harrold or Quincey will be in the lineup on Friday night as Matt Greene’s partner on the blueline as the Kings host the Carolina Hurricanes.
ZEUS IS BACK
One of the surprises of the early part of the season so far has been the play of C Michal Handzus. Handzus has two assists in three games and is a +1. (Kings Stats) He is getting playing time on the penalty kill and on the power play while seeing time as the pivot on the Kings second line with Alexander Frolov and Oscar Moller and being assigned the defensive responsbilities of the opposing team’s top line.
“Michal has had a tough couple of years,” Murray said. “He went to Chicago, blew his leg out after coming from Phily the previous year and he had a shoulder issues and had that taken care of. Last year he had some problems too coming into the start of the year and he never got on track.
“He didn’t have an opportunity to work out in the summer time because of the rehab work he had to put in. You just don’t get your body ready to become an athlete again. You are always on the mend and that wears on you mentally. This year has been totally opposite.”
Handzus scored just 7-14=21 in 82 games last season, the lowest goal and point marks since his rookie season of 1998-99 with the St. Louis Blues. He also finished with a -21 plus/minus rating, by far the worst of his career in the first year of a four-year deal signed last summer.
“This year, you see a newer player, a fresher player,” Murray said.
THE PK VALUE MENU
The Kings are one of just four teams that have yet to surrender a power play goal, (Buffalo, Edmonton and Minnesota are the others), as the Kings have squashed all 14 power play opportunities of their opponents thus far.
Last year the Kings finished last in the league in PK%, stopping 77.99% of their short-handed opportunities.
“I have been very pleased with the competitiveness and the work. You always look at a penalty kill and the best killer is your goalie, and LaBarbera has been good,” Murray said. “The structure is in place and that is where Mark [Hardy] is working hard with the penalty killers from the very beginning. He is asking them to perform in certain ways in different areas of the ice in the offensive and neutral zones.
“Everyone is starting to respond.”
SPEAKING OF LABARBERA…
Jason LaBarbera has stopped 79 of 86 shots through the first three games (.919 save percentage and 2.36 goals-against average).
“He has lost a lot of weight, he is physically in top shape,” Murray said. “He put in a huge summer where he made a huge commitment to eating right and working out during the offseason. That is why he looks so fresh.”
LaBarbera is 1-2-0 this season and is 11-5-0 with a 1.85 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in his career during October (29 goals allowed, 413 saves, 442 shots, 942:42).
“We have put a big focus on the defensive part of the game to show some respect for our goaltenders.”
ROCK YOU LIKE HURRICANE
Friday’s game at Los Angeles marks the first game of a season-long six-game road swing that also will see the Hurricanes face Anaheim, Pittsburgh, the New York Islanders, Montreal and St. Louis. Carolina returns to the RBC Center on Nov. 1 to face the Edmonton Oilers in the first of 11 home games in November.
Peter Laviolette will take sole possession of second on the all-time wins list among U.S. born NHL coaches with his next win, he is tied with Bob Johnson (234) for second on the all-time wins list among U.S.-born NHL coaches after winning Oct. 11 @ TB.
Friday’s game marks a return to Southern California for Hurricanes defensemen Joe Corvo, Tim Gleason and Frantisek Kaberle, each of whom spent the early parts of their careers with the Kings. Los Angeles drafted Corvo in 1997 and Kaberle in 1999, while Gleason was acquired by the Kings from Ottawa in March 2003 prior to turning professional.
Hurricanes winger Ray Whitney is the lone Carolina player to have earned at least one point in each of the team’s first three games, and his four points (1g, 3a) lead the team. Whitney led the Hurricanes in scoring with 83 points (32g, 51a) in 2006-07, and finished second on the team last season despite playing in just 66 games. He earned his 200th point with the Hurricanes with his goal on Oct. 10 against Florida.