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Kings Notebook (Oct. 16)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are 23rd in the NHL in GAA and 25th in SV%.

COLUMBUS -- The Kings are tied for 23rd in the NHL in goals-against average entering Friday, which isn’t good. Even worse, they’re ranked 25th in save percentage.

So while seven games doesn’t make for a season - plus the fact that No. 1 goalie Jonathan Quick has a 4-2 record - it’s impossible to ignore the fact that poor goaltending has been a major factor in all three of the Kings’ losses this season.

Quick has a .893 save percentage in six games, and Erik Ersberg stopped only 17 of 21 shots in his lone start. Coach Terry Murray didn’t place all the blame on his goalies, but didn’t pull punches when discussing their play.

"Goaltending is critical," Murray said after Friday’s practice, "and our goaltending last night (against Detroit) has to be better, and it has to be better against the New York Rangers. That’s a fact of the business, period. I told the players, the two goaltenders, that, and that’s just the way it is. We have to put more demands on ourselves."

Murray didn’t put all the blame on the goalies. The Kings, by all accounts, played a strong first period Thursday against the Red Wings, but then stopped generating scoring chances and appeared to turn tentative after Detroit’s first goal.

"It becomes...there’s a goal, and another goal on the power play, but you have to be able to regroup," Murray said, "and I thought we really took a step backward at that time. So that’s where we’ve got to figure it out."

PURCELL AILING
Teddy Purcell missed Friday’s practice, and Murray said Purcell was suffering from flu symptoms. Murray said Purcell’s status for Saturday’s game against Columbus would be determined in the morning.

DEFENSIVE CHANGE
Murray said he will change up the Kings’ defensive pairings, moving up Davis Drewiske to play with Drew Doughty and shifting Sean O’Donnell to partner with Matt Greene. Jack Johnson will continue to partner with Rob Scuderi.

Drewiske looked solid in 17 games with the Kings last season and has been off to a strong start this season, with one goal, two assists and a team-best plus-5 rating.

"We like what he is bringing in his game, and we feel he deserves more minutes as a result of that," Murray said. "We had concerns last year, I think, when we looked at the minutes that Sean O’Donnell was playing. There were times when he was up into the 23-, 24-minute mark, or 25-minute mark, and after 20 games or so, his game was slipping a bit because of the amount of ice time.

"We felt, now, that Drewiske is able to handle those minutes and play against the top lines."

GOOD NIGHT IN THE CIRCLE

Jarret Stoll’s faceoff acumen became an issue after Stoll’s percentage was below 30 percent in three of the Kings’ first four games this season. That was particularly surprising since Stoll was one of the Kings’ best faceoff men last season.

On Thursday against Detroit, however, Stoll won 10 of 11 faceoffs. What changed?

"Nothing is different really," Stoll said. "I don’t even think it was an issue. It was just one of those things where I had a couple bad games in a row. If that’s the longest streak that I’m going to have, I’ll take that. It’s a lot of things. Last night I had some wingers help me out on some of the draws. On the other hand, when I had a couple rough nights in the circle, it was the other way around.

"There’s no science to it. It’s just a matter of getting the right feel and getting the right bounces. You have to work for them too. Sometimes there’s an extra effort involved in winning a draw. Last night, the stars were aligned in that aspect, but you just have to keep it going and try to be as consistent as possible."
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