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Kings Notebook (Oct. 27)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
CHICAGO -- The only nice thing about a struggling power play is that it only takes a couple timely goals to raise everyone's spirits, not to mention the efficiency rate.

Entering tonight's game against Chicago, the Kings are 4-for-12 on the power play in their last two games. Before those games, the Kings were last in the NHL in power-play efficiency. Now they're 19th, with a success rate of 14.7 percent.

That's still below acceptable for coach Terry Murray, and far lower than the Kings' 20.8-percent success rate last season, but progress is progress. In Monday's comeback victory over Minnesota, the Kings got timely power-play goals near the ends of the first and second periods.

Murray was asked about the type of improvement he has seen on the power play of late.

``I'm seeing more intensity on the puck, to recover it, and more of a shot mentality,'' Murray said. ``It's as simple as that. If you want to have a power play that's successful, I believe you've got to get it [the puck] back up to the top and get plays to the net.

``Then you've got the defending team turning around, facing their net, and loose pucks are going to be there so it's about recovery and keeping it coming with a shot mentality. You never let the penalty killers get organized. I think it pays dividends, and any time a power play is going through a difficult time, that's the attitude you need to have.''

The Kings announced Wednesday that five games have been added to the television schedule, to be shown on KCOP Ch. 13, meaning that all 82 Kings games will be televised this season.

The games added are: Nov. 6 vs. Nashville, Dec. 18 at Nashville, Dec. 29 at Phoenix, Feb. 2 at Edmonton and March 9 at Detroit. Bob Miller and Jim Fox will call the action in those games.

Former Kings captain Mattias Norstrom will be honored with a ceremony before Saturday's home game against New Jersey at STAPLES Center, and several former Kings, and teammates of Norstrom, are scheduled to participate in the ceremony.

Luc Robitaille, Rob Blake, Ian Laperriere, Craig Johnson, Glen Murray, Derek Armstrong, Jamie Storr, Mathieu Schneider and Nelson Emerson are scheduled to be on hand, and the first 10,000 fans will receive a Norstrom ``rally towel.''

To be certain, this isn't the same Chicago Blackhawks team that won the Stanley Cup last season. Players such as Kris Versteeg, John Madden, Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel and Antti Niemi have moved on, largely because of salary-cap concerns.

The Blackhawks, though, still have plenty of firepower up front -- with Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews -- the reigning Norris Trophy winner in Duncan Keith and a solid, veteran goalie in Marty Turco.

Chicago is off to a 5-4-1 start this season, but Murray talked about the different feel in the Kings' locker room before a game against the defending champs.

``It's a different feel, obviously,'' Murray said. ``The intensity in the locker room, before the game starts, is always elevated. Players are sitting in there, talking among themselves, challenging themselves to respond the right way, to do the right things. The Stanley Cup champions, whoever they are in any given year, in a home game are always on top of their game. We're going to have to be matching that intensity, bringing our 'A' game and doing the right things.

``This is one of the better transition clubs in the National Hockey League, and you just want to try to take that strength away from their game. You're not going to eliminate it, but you've got to limit the opportunities they're going to have off one of their strengths.''

As expected, the Kings will go with Jonathan Bernier in goal tonight, with Jonathan Quick slated to get the start Thursday in Dallas on the second of back-to-back games.

The defensive lineup will be the same, as will the top three lines. The Kings will go with a fourth line of Kyle Clifford, Andrei Loktionov and Trevor Lewis, with Lewis making his second appearance of the season after being a healthy scratch in seven of the first eight games.

``That's part of the reason why,'' Murray said of Lewis' lineup inclusion. ``With back-to-back games, I want to play four lines more in this game tonight. Chicago is doing the same thing. They're rolling out their lines, and we want to be able to match it, especially with the fact that we have to play again tomorrow and it's going to be a very late night getting in tonight. We'll try to save some energy and, at the same time, pour it in for a big game here.''
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