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Kings Notebook (Oct. 22)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Peter Harrold stepped in for injured Drew Doughty Thursday night in Phoenix.
DENVER -- Removing Drew Doughty from the Kings' lineup is a bit like dropping a large rock in a small pool. The ripple effect is rather large, and the Kings are still trying to adjust.

No single player can replace Doughty, who is expected to miss at least one week with an upper-body injury, so coach Terry Murray must act like a puppet-master, pulling a few different strings at once in order to get some productivity and cohesion out of his defensemen.

Peter Harrold replaced Doughty in Thursday's loss to Phoenix and did an admirable job in his season debut, and on Friday, Murray left open the possibility that Matt Greene might make his season debut when the Kings face the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night.

``I haven't decided yet. He had a pretty good practice. I know he's feeling good. I think we need to decide, as coaches, and I need to decide if he's game-ready.

Greene has been out since undergoing shoulder surgery in July, but regardless of when he returns, it's unlikely that the Kings will have much stability on the back end for a while.

Murray shuffled his defensemen throughout Thursday's game, and after Friday's practice, Murray indicated that it might be a while before he's able to stay with consistent pairs on defense.

``I think that's the adjustment that you inevitably get to whenever your best defenseman is out of the lineup,'' Murray said. ``So that's probably the way you'll see it play out in every game. There's special teams, there are different looks for that, and then it's who is going well at critical times in the game.''

Jack Johnson had a minus-3 rating in Thursday's game, but the Kings got solid efforts from two of their lower-profile defensemen, Davis Drewiske and Peter Harrold.

In his season debut, Harrold played just under 21 minutes and had an even rating. Harrold also contributed on the power-play and penalty-kill units.

``Obviously I'm not Drew Doughty, but I can contribute in similar ways,'' Harrold said. ``That's what I'm going to have to try to do, try to contribute on the power play if I can, and make sure I'm moving up in the play to try to contribute in the offensive zone while taking care of my own zone. He's a key part of the team, and obviously I'm not here to replace him, but I just have to go in and play my game.''

Scott Parse, who suffered a groin injury on Sept. 22, has looked strong in his return to practice this week, but Murray said Parse's return to the lineup is not imminent.

``It's not something that I'm looking at, as far as the lineup in the next couple games or anything like that,'' Murray said. ``He's going to need a real good push, a hard push. He needs to get into competitive battle situations still, and then we'll see where it's at after that.''

Murray tinkered with his bottom two lines during Thursday's game, at one point going with a line of Brad Richardson, Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds, but in Friday's practice, Simmonds was back with Michal Handzus and Alexei Ponikarovsky.

Murray said he intended to stay with that line on Saturday and said he was leaning toward staying with a fourth line of Schenn, Richardson and Kevin Westgarth.

``Schenn, I thought his game was pretty good,'' Murray said. ``The tempo got a little high there at the end and I thought he ran out of fuel in the last seven, eight minutes of the third period. Westgarth was good, coming back in. I kind of like the way it was put together and what they're doing. Their role is good, and if we have to make a change for any reason, then there's some flexibility with different players.''

The Kings awoke Friday in a place where no NHL team wants to be: in last place in a major statistical category, this one being power-play efficiency.

The Kings have just one power-play goal in 22 chances this season, and power-play work continues to be a major point of emphasis in practice.

``No, it's not a good thing, the result,'' Murray said, ``but there are power plays that we've been very good on. Power-play breakouts have been, I think, tremendous through the year. It's our possession recovery, rather, that is a concern for me, and now it's leading to other things.

``Because you're not getting the recovery, the frustration can become a part of it and other areas start to break down. That's where you have to continue to keep the focus on what's going right, and keep building on that, and now let's get back to the one or two areas that are the significant ones to recover, to now have a shot mentality. Getting pucks to the net right now, for me, is a concern, in 5-on-5 and power play. We're not shooting enough.''

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