|Alexander Frolov will return to the ice on Thursday vs. the Dallas Stars. Frolov missed Monday's meeting with the Stars after Terry Murray benched him. |
Alexander Frolov is back in the Kings' lineup, and with a different look.
Terry Murray on Frolov | Dustin Brown on Frolov
Frolov, scratched from Monday's game at Dallas and publicly criticized by coach Terry Murray for a lack of effort, will be on the ice when the Kings host the Stars on Thursday night, and will play alongside center Michal Handzus and winger Dustin Brown. (Kings Lines)
Murray, who said Frolov was essentially nonresponsive after being scratched Monday, said after Wednesday's practice that Frolov had done enough to justify a return.
"Well, when we spoke in Dallas," Murray said, "the conversation was, 'You're coming out of the lineup.' It was important for me to leave an opening in the door, and that was, 'Whenever you're ready to come back, knock on my door, come and sit down, and look me in the eye and talk to me and tell me you're ready to get going and play the game that I know you're capable of bringing.'
"And that's what happened here this morning. He came in, knocked on my door and wanted to talk for a few minutes, and we had a good discussion and he's back in. He's ready to go."
Frolov, as he did Monday night, said "nobody likes to be scratched" but said "you have to respect" Murray's decision. Frolov said he thought the meeting with Murray went well.
"Yeah, I think for sure it was productive," Frolov said. "I'll just move on now and get ready for the game tomorrow."
Murray, who said Monday that issues involving Frolov's commitment had been "going on for seven years," stood by his decision to take Frolov out of the lineup.
"The decision I made in Dallas, I'm very comfortable with it," Murray said. "It's what I needed to do for the team, and it's only made for the team. It's made for the L.A. Kings. No one is bigger than the team. That's the reason why I made the decision. Yesterday was a day of sitting back and contemplating everything, I guess, by both of us. It was a productive day. Now he's back in the lineup, a good practice, and ready to get going."
Frolov retains Handzus as his center but now picks up Brown, who is more of a scoring threat than their former winger, Wayne Simmonds.
In making the move, Murray broke up the line of Frolov, Handzus and Simmonds, which had existed as a stellar "stopper" line against opponents' top forwards. Murray praised Simmonds, who will now partner with center Jarret Stoll and left wing Teddy Purcell, and said he made the move to try to generate secondary scoring.
The Kings' top-line players, Anze Kopitar, Ryan Smyth and Justin Williams, have combined for 14 goals. The rest of the forwards, combined, have 10 goals.
"I'm looking to find more (scoring) from other places," Murray said. "I'm hoping that something can happen out of this Fro, Zeus and Brown line, I take a look at Zeus, and over his resume, and he's put up good numbers in his career.
"He's a very responsible checking guy but he's got pretty good hands, he's pretty nifty with the puck in the offensive zone, he's making good plays, he can make good plays, and I'm hoping that moving Brownie there can generate more from that line."
Murray said he erred when he started Erik Ersberg in goal last Wednesday against the New York Rangers, and indicated that he will stay with Jonathan Quick for quite some time.
Before the start of the six-game road trip, Murray drew up a plan for the goalies that included Quick starting the first two games, and then the goalies splitting games on consecutive nights, Wednesday at New York and Thursday at Detroit.
Quick won the first two games, with some of his strongest play of the season, but then Ersberg allowed four goals on only 21 shots in a 4-2 loss to the Rangers.
"I was wishing I had just stayed with a player, Quicker, who was starting to get his game and playing well," Murray said.
Murray said that he has "erased" the plan he drew up at the end of training camp, one that had put the goalies on a schedule through the end of December. Murray now indicates that Quick will make every start for the foreseeable future.
"You know, he was getting on a roll and he was starting to play a real solid game when we got into New York," Murray said. "The only reason I made the change was because of my plan. Right now, I'm just going to play Quick." Asked if he had lost faith in Ersberg, who has an 0-7-3 record since his last victory on Dec. 13, 2008, against Minnesota, Murray said, "I need him to be looking really, really good in practice. He's got to be right on top of things right now. It's been a long time since there's been a win for him, going back to the middle of December last year, and I really need to see 'A' game in practice.
"You know, he's battling the flu right now himself, so there's just no way that he's going to go in until he gets himself back to full strength and then builds from that point, and then we'll decide."
Murray said the Kings are not considering calling up Jonathan Bernier, who has a 1.60 goals-against average in five games with Manchester of the American Hockey League.
Rookie defenseman Alec Martinez suffered a "lower-body injury" after the first game and hasn't played since. On Wednesday, for the first time, Murray disclosed that Martinez's injury is a high ankle sprain. Martinez suffered the injury in a post-practice drill, when he apparently slipped and crashed into the boards. Martinez is still off the ice, and no timetable for his return has been set.
Kings Injury Report