by Connie Kim, special to LAKings.com from Hockeywood, L.A.
As a featured blogger on Hockeywood, L.A., the Kings new online forum on LAKings.com, Connie has earned the chance to cover a Kings practice. You can check out her blogs here. Join today and this could be you!
|Welcome Back: Justin Williams returned to practice today since sustaining an injury on Oct. 22 during morning skate. |
Halloween finds the Kings smack dab in the middle of a three-day break between a shootout loss against the Vancouver Canucks and their next contest versus the Pacific Division-surprise Phoenix Coyotes. This Hallow's eve has the Kings' pumpkin carving knives sharp with a record of 8-4-2 with 18 points placing them 4th in the Western Conference. After a day off yesterday, the team skated hard today doing drills and sprints in line combinations slightly different from the past few games. Teddy Purcell was placed on the left wing of the top line with Kings' leading scorer Anze Kopitar and a fresh Justin Williams. There was "good energy and lots of work done" in today's practice and Kings head coach Terry Murray said simply that Williams was "excited about being back." Ryan Smyth was mysteriously absent in what turned out to be what Murray described as a "therapy day."
With Wayne Simmonds coming down from the hot first line to play the third with Jarret Stoll and the pleasantly surprising Scott Parse, the question for Monday's game will be aimed at the point production of the reunited top line. If the Kings top line of Smyth, Kopitar, and Williams can keep the chemistry they showed at the beginning of the season, there will be no issues getting the puck past the opposition and to the net. This season the Kings are making roster alterations only when they have to, so the production of the entire team has not drastically changed from game to game. Kopitar is still leading the team with 21 points (10G, 11A) and has moved to second in the league in scoring behind only Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.
NEW BAT IN THE BELFRY
Newly acquired waiver-wire defenseman Randy Jones skated with his new team today and looked to be fitting in quite comfortably. With seven defensemen on the ice, the pairings were on a constant rotation rather than having a set partner for the entire practice. Currently Terry Murray does not have a timetable for when Jones will be slotted into the Kings line up. Time must first be spent getting Jones up to speed with what the specific plan is for the Kings and what their systems are.
Depending how Jones fits into the defense, this could be a potential pick up in Kyle Quincey fashion; a smart waiver grab, add a bit of salary to the cap, and end with a "veteran defenseman outside of the top six defensemen" who "adds great depth" and can be relied upon to step into any situation.
With the Kings facing two back-to-backs in November, Kings faithful may be wondering if Murray will choose to try former starter Erik Ersberg again. "I haven't lost sight of the fact there is another goalie," but there is no need to flag Ersberg for any misstep he may have taken. The bottom line is that Jonathan Quick has been playing the way the Kings need him to, so there is no immediate need to look elsewhere. This three-day break will allow Quick and his teammates an extra day to rest and prepare for the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday.