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Morning Skate: A Chance for Jones

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Johnson's upper body injury will allow Randy Jones a chance to return to the lineup.

BOSTON – As often happens, one player’s misfortune will be another player’s opportunity tonight when the Kings face the Boston Bruins.

Jack Johnson’s arm injury will prevent him from facing the Bruins tonight, but the opportunity will go to Randy Jones, who was a healthy scratch for previous four games.

Johnson’s arm injury, sustained late in the second period of the Kings’ victory over Columbus on Thursday night, still isn’t considered serious, but coach Terry Murray said he isn’t certain if Johnson will be able to play Sunday at New Jersey either. Murray said he considers Johnson’s status to be "day to day."  (read Johnson out)

Previously injured defenseman Davis Drewiske (shoulder) has been cleared to play, and might get into the lineup tomorrow, but given the option, Murray chose to go with Jones and hope that Jones can recapture some of his early form.

Jones, claimed off waivers from Philadelphia in October, has good puck-moving skills and impressed early with the Kings, as he had four points in his first four games.

Jones became a lineup regular, but then suffered a head/neck injury in mid-December, missed more than three weeks of action and, according to Murray, hasn’t quite been the same. Jones had one point in five games before he was made a healthy scratch.

Asked what he wanted to see from Jones against Boston, Murray went right back to the way Jones started with the Kings.

"What I'd like, what we need, is the game that he showed us often," Murray said. "His alert play, his anticipation. He has good puck skills. He can jump on pucks and carry it out of danger, out of trouble, in our own end and make a good first pass.

"The other part of it, that we've seen a few times and that I've known him to be, is the guy who jumps up in the second part of the attack."

For the season, Jones has five points and eight assists in 23 games.

The Boston Bruins have struggled of late, with five consecutive regulation losses, but the Bruins are still one of the league’s best teams on the penalty kill.

Boston enters the game with the second-most effective penalty-kill unit in the league (87.2 percent) and is only two weeks removed from a game in which it went 5-for-5 against the Kings’ power play at STAPLES Center.

The Kings’ power play has struggled of late, but has scored a goal in each of the last two games, and Murray had some very basic, but important, advice for his power play.

"The area you've got to be totally on board with, with five guys, is movement away from the puck," Murray said. "The people who do not have possession of the puck have to move, and they have to be quick and it has to be very specific. If you don't, because of their aggressiveness, you run out of options very quickly as you have possession of the puck. Even if it's just the half-board, goal-line low player, those two are kind of playing catch, and you don't have, up top, something readily available, you're done.

"(Zdeno) Chara is so good at reading and his stick is so long. He gets ticks on pucks and breaks plays up. You can't fool around on his side of the ice for a long time without bringing the puck back over the top and to the weak side, which is wide open because they're so aggressive. So it takes four guys moving and alert to make the power play happen against this team."

With general manager Dean Lombardi and four other Kings management members in attendance, Manchester beat Providence 2-0 in an AHL game Friday night.

The star, not surprisingly, was goalie Jonathan Bernier, the former first-round pick who has been consistently brilliant this season, with a 1.95 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage in 37 games for the Monarchs.

Kings goalie coach Bill Ranford did not attend Friday night’s game but has kept close tabs on Bernier throughout the season.

"He's been outstanding," Ranford said. "He's definitely Manchester's MVP, if not in the running for one of the MVPs of the whole league, with the way he's been playing. They've just been decimated by injuries down there, and those injuries are to most of their offensive-style players. They're playing ugly hockey right now, and relying on great goaltending from both (Bernier) and Jeff (Zatkoff)."

Zatkoff has a 2.36 GAA and a .932 save percentage in 14 games for Manchester.
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