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Kings Notebook (Oct. 29)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Both Drew Doughty and Wayne Simmonds may miss Saturday's game against New Jersey.

EL SEGUNDO -- Head injuries are famously difficult to predict, but the Kings are hopeful that Drew Doughty will be back sooner rather than later.

Doughty, recovering from an apparent concussion, will not play Saturday night when the Kings host the New Jersey Devils at STAPLES Center, but coach Terry Murray said he is hopeful Doughty might be able to return for Thursday’s game against Tampa Bay.

``That's the game I have him penciled in for,'' Murray said. ``That's all contingent on what the doctors say. I'll just react to what they tell me.''

Saturday’s game will be the sixth consecutive game without Doughty, who was injured after a collision with Carolina’s Erik Cole in an Oct. 20 game. Doughty has been skating but has yet to put together enough symptom-free days to be cleared to play.

After the game against the Devils, the Kings have four consecutive days to rest and practice, so the hope is that Doughty will be ready to go on Thursday.

``I don't really have a timetable for you right now,’’ Doughty said Friday afternoon. ``As I said, I'm feeling better every day and just hoping to recover fast but smartly, and be back as soon as I can.''

Cole did not receive a penalty, or any supplemental discipline from the league, and Doughty and the Kings have said they didn’t believe the play warranted suspension.

``When I looked at it on TV, or on the Internet, I thought it wasn't too bad,’’ Doughty said. ``He did brace himself to make the hit, but I think that's just because he saw me coming. I don't think he had any intention of hurting me, or even hitting me. It was just kind of a case where we ran into each other, and it was just unfortunate. I was the only one who got hurt.''

Wayne Simmonds left early in the third period of Thursday’s game at Dallas. The team said Simmonds suffered an undisclosed lower-body injury, and Murray said Simmonds’ status for Saturday’s game could be deemed ``questionable.’’

``The only update I have is that he came in and he was treated,’’ Murray said. ``I'm going to wait until tomorrow morning and have an opportunity to see what he's like. Get him on the ice, hopefully, and make a decision.

``There's hope that it's going to be OK. It's just another day of getting treated, and come back in and give it a try in the morning.’’

Simmonds declined to comment after Thursday’s game and was not available for comment Friday.

Murray had strong praise for the game played by rookie winger Kyle Clifford on Thursday. In a fourth-line role, Clifford did not record a point but tied for the team high with four hits and got in a fight with Dallas’ Brian Sutherby.

``Clifford in particular had a real impact on that hockey game,’’ Murray said. ``We were fighting through, trying to find a way to win a game where all the excuses were built in. He's out there forechecking and playing hard and heavy and getting contact right through is last shift of the game.

``You look at the fight he had, the scrum he had, and they had a great forecheck in the middle of the second period. Pucks are in the offensive zone, they're doing all the right things and it kind of changed the tide for us. We got some momentum off of that energy. Again, we're talking about a 19-year-old kid, and I think the team responded to his play.’’

Clifford has played in six of the Kings’ 10 games this season, and before he plays in his 10th game, the Kings must decide whether to return him to his junior team or keep him on the NHL roster and burn a year of his professional contract.

Before Saturday’s game -- after the national anthem -- the Kings will honor former captain Mattias Norstrom with a ceremony that will include several of Norstrom’s former teammates. The first 10,000 fans will get a Norstrom ``rally towel.’’

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