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Morning Skate: A Familiar Foe

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Former King Matt Moulson has had a solid season in New York and makes his first appearance at STAPLES Center with the Islanders tonight.

Jeff Halpern and Scott Parse, two forwards who had to sit and watch Thursday's game, will get big chances to contribute for the Kings tonight.

Halpern and Parse, who have played fourth-line roles for the Kings of late, will be in high-profile spots tonight when the Kings host the New York Islanders at STAPLES Center.

In search of balance, the Kings are spreading out their skill players. Halpern will center a line with Alexander Frolov and Justin Williams, while Parse will play right wing on a line with Ryan Smyth and Jarret Stoll.

The other lines will have Anze Kopitar centering Brad Richardson and Wayne Simmonds, and Michal Handzus centering Fredrik Modin and Dustin Brown.

For Halpern, it's a chance to show his new team what he can do in a bigger role. Acquired on March 3 in a trade with Tampa Bay, Halpern has played limited minutes with the Kings and did not record a point in his first six games.

Halpern spent part of this season playing on the Lightning's first line, with Vincent Lecavalier, and will be in a similar role tonight for the Kings.

"I had a meeting with him and talked a more specific role and expectations," Murray said. "I think this gives him an opportunity, with a couple wingers, to play with guys (like those) he has been playing with. Coming from Tampa Bay, coming from Dallas, he had the opportunity to play with their top players, and this is a game for him to jump in and play with those skill guys and play well."

Parse has eight goals in 51 games this season. He has bounced around the Kings' lineup, and back and forth between L.A. and Manchester of the AHL, but Murray was direct in explaining what he hopes to get from Parse in his new role.

"Scoring," Murray said. "I think he has a real knack. You watch him in the games, some of the goals he has scored this year have been highlight-reel goals. In practices, he's got a great sense around the net, down below the hash marks, on the shooting drills. Scoring, that's what I need from him tonight."

STAYING THE SAME
Murray made wholesale changes to the forward lines after Thursday's loss but has decided to keep the defense intact. Murray said he considered making a change, and putting Davis Drewiske in the lineup, but decided against it.

"The six D will stay the same tonight," Murray said. "I put quite a bit of thought into it. At the end, though, it was the six that have been playing big games, important games for us. To put a player in, right now, with us not playing our game as well as we have been, it might be a little unfair to do that."

Murray said he would continue to explore opportunities to get Drewiske in the lineup. Drewiske has played 40 games for the Kings this season, but only two since Jan. 4 and none since a Feb. 11 home game against Edmonton.

PLAYOFF TICKETS

The Kings announced that individual first-round playoff tickets will go on sale on Saturday, April 3. Next Saturday, March 27, fans will have the ability to purchase first-round tickets -- and secure their ability to purchase tickets to later-round games -- by putting down a 5-percent deposit for 2010-11 season tickets.

More information on playoff tickets is available at www.lakings.com/playoffs.

FAMILIAR FOE
Former Kings forward Matt Moulson, who signed with the New York Islanders last summer, is having a career year with a team-high 26 goals.

Moulson has been hot of late, with three goals in his last five games. Murray, who made Moulson his first-line right winger at the start of last season, said he isn't entirely surprised by Moulson's success this season.

"He's getting his opportunity to play on a consistent basis, at the start, with (John) Tavares," Murray said. "They had nice chemistry going from the very beginning. I know he's moved around a little bit recently, but he continues to go to the net. He's got a good stick around the net. He scored against us in the Island, just on a low-slot rebound, get it back to the net attitude. That's the old Phil Esposito attitude. Just look for the garbage goals. But man, do they ever count."

Moulson had one goal in seven games with the Kings last season before being sent to Manchester, but he still has one big connection to the Kings. Moulson is engaged to marry the sister of Jonathan Quick's wife this summer.

"We're good buddies," Quick said. "It's pretty cool, the way it worked out. We get along with each other, and it's pretty cool... I think he's looking forward to playing me and I'm looking forward to playing him, so it will be a fun game to play."
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