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LAKingsinsider's Preview: LAK at CAR

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
RALEIGH, N.C. - The NHL’s general managers on Wednesday agreed that hits to players’ heads should be regulated in some form, but specifics of new rules will not be determined until the GMs hold their next meeting, in March.

Hits to the head have become one of the most-discussed issues around the league, brought to light by high-profile injuries, but there remains widespread debate about how exactly hits should be regulated. Should contact with the head be banned completely? Only blindside hits? Only shoulder hits to the head? A combination?

The people who are impacted the most, the players, seem to be taking a conservative approach on the issue.

"It's hard to say," said defenseman Matt Greene, the Kings’ player representative. "It's a gray area. Obviously you don't want to see guys getting concussions. It's tough, because where do you draw the line? A lot of plays can start off as innocent. Maybe it's just a size difference, hitting a smaller guy, and you really can't help that sometimes. But the elbows, and some of the blatant disregard of respect for players, those need to be handled.

"I think you have to go case by case. If you start getting one general rule, you're going to have innocent hits and malicious attacks and they're going to get the same sentence. That just doesn't make sense."

At their meetings in Toronto, the GMs decided upon a panel that would study the issue and present a report in March. If the GMs reach a consensus, any rule change would need to be approved by the league’s competition committee and its Board of Governors.

Erik Ersberg was scheduled to make his second start of the season in goal Wednesday against Carolina, as coach Terry Murray continued to express dissatisfaction with goalie Jonathan Quick’s game in a 4-1 loss to Chicago on Monday.

"I made the decision based on the last game," Murray said. "There were several goals, I think, that Quicker would like to have a re-do on. The other part of it is, we’ve had very few practice times since we came back from that six-game road trip."

For a second consecutive day, Quick stayed on the ice long after the end of practice to work with goalie coach Bill Ranford. Murray indicated that Quick wouldn’t necessary regain his starting job when the Kings played Atlanta on Friday.

"Ersberg is playing here tonight, and there’s nothing else that needs to be interpreted into that," Murray said. "It’s just, we’ll see how things go here tonight, and I’ll get a feel for Quick as we watch practice again tomorrow, and how Billy is making out with him."

That leaves Ersberg a chance to make a good impression, something he failed to do in his first start this season, Oct. 14 against the New York Rangers, when Ersberg allowed four goals on 21 shots.

Ersberg will be looking for his first victory since Dec. 13 of last year. Since then, he is 0-7-3, and allowed four or more goals in five of those starts.

Murray also made a couple other moves Wednesday, as he put defenseman Randy Jones in the lineup for the first time - in place of Sean O’Donnell - and put forward Peter Harrold in the lineup instead of Raitis Ivanans. Tonight's lineup

The moves are somewhat related. Jones, claimed off waivers from Philadelphia on Oct. 29, had not played in an NHL game this season and spent most of the summer recuperating from hip surgery.

Murray kept Jones out of the lineup for almost two weeks largely out of concern about Jones’ conditioning, and Murray said that if Jones struggles tonight, Harrold, his "utility player" could also take some shifts on defense.

The plan, though, is to have Jones skate with Jack Johnson, which also gives the Kings a chance to rest the 38-year-old O’Donnell. Murray, who served as an assistant coach when Jones played with the Flyers, said he is

"He's an all-situations player," Murray said. "He carries the puck, he can get it out of trouble with his puck-handling skills and skating ability. He can jump in on the power play, on your second back."

Wednesday was something of a homecoming for Kings forward Justin Williams, who spent parts of five seasons with Carolina and won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 before he was traded to the Kings last season.

There are also some familiar faces for the Kings, as the Hurricanes include former Kings players Joe Corvo, Tim Gleason, Tom Kostopoulos and Manny Legace.
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