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Kings Notebook (Oct. 7)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Sean O'Donnell returns to the lineup on Thursday.

Sean O'Donnell can go back to wearing the purple-and-black Kings uniform, and not feel as though he's wearing something issued by the California Department of Corrections.

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"I feel like I've been let out of jail,'' O'Donnell said with a smile after Wednesday's practice.

O'Donnell will make his season debut in the Kings' Thursday night home game against Minnesota. O'Donnell missed the first two-regular season game -- and the final three preseason games -- due to a suspension for a preseason incident with New York Islanders forward Matt Martin.

O'Donnell, who turns 38 next week, is the Kings' most veteran player and a stable partner for 19-year-old defenseman Drew Doughty, a pair that will be reunited in Thursday's game.

"OD is going to be welcomed back,'' coach Terry Murray said. "He's an important player for us. His experience, presence... Just a lot of the intangible stuff that happens in the locker room and is said in the locker room, he's a big, big part of it. Back in the lineup tomorrow, and I'm sure he's happy to get out of the skating club.''

The "skating club'' is a reference to the post-practice conditioning done by non-game roster players, an usual spot for O'Donnell, who hadn't missed a game since the 2006-07 season.

"I'm happy that I don't have to skate after practice anymore,'' O'Donnell said. "I haven't played a real game in almost six months now, so I'm looking forward to it, to get back with the guys. Practices are one thing, but when you're in there giving everything you have, and you're working with the guys, it's a fun thing and I missed it.''

Drew Doughty's struggles in the season opener were well-chronicled, and although Doughty rebounded nicely with a plus-3 rating in Tuesday's victory over San Jose, he figures to improve all the more with the return of O'Donnell.

Doughty had tremendous success as a rookie last season, but O'Donnell deserved a big part of the credit. He mentored Doughty, on and off the ice, and O'Donnell's reliable, steady play often covered for any minor rookie mistakes Doughty might have made.

"Drew, he makes some real good plays out there but, you know, he's still 19,'' O'Donnell said. "I think sometimes you look at him and you see some of the plays he does and you figure, `Oh, this guy is just something special,' and you think it's going to be that way every shift. And it's not. He's still playing against men, still playing against the best guys in the world, and he's still a work in progress.''


The Kings, in general, were pleased with their effort in Tuesday's 6-4 victory over San Jose, but one stat stood out as a big negative. The Kings went 0 for 4 on the penalty kill.

Kings PK Rankings

Last season, the Kings didn't give up a power-play goal until the seventh game of the season.

"I am (concerned),'' Murray said, "but as I said last night, I look at the way (the Sharks) move the puck around, and also the Phoenix team, the way they move the puck around on the power play. That was pretty good stuff. But we're a better penalty-kill team than what we've shown.

"We know that, from how it all came together last year. We've got to get better at it, there's no question.''

Teddy Purcell scored the game-winning goal Tuesday night in front of his parents, Ted and Mary Lynn, who visited from Purcell's native Newfoundland.

A couple days before the game, Mary Lynn Purcell cooked a "Jiggs Dinner,'' a traditional Newfoundland meal, for her son and some teammates and friends. The dinner consisted of, among other things, pork tongue, turnip and boiled potatoes.

Purcell gave the meal a thumbs up, but added, "We had it a couple days before the game, to have time to get it out of our system.''

Murray said that Rich Clune (pulled groin) will attempt to skate tomorrow for the first time this season. Alec Martinez (lower-body injury) did not practice Wednesday, but Murray said he wasn't aware of any immediate plans to put Martinez on injured reserve.

For an entire Kings injury report, click here.

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