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Morning Skate: Greene Light - Yellow Light - Red Light

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Ryan Smyth, AKA Captain Canada, is still en route returning from his hometown of Banff, Alberta, where he participated in the Olympic Torch Relay.

After three weeks' worth of sitting and watching, Teddy Purcell will get another chance to make a good impression tonight when he returns to the Kings' lineup.

Purcell, who started the season as a second-line winger, has been bounced all over the Kings' lineup and, for the past nine games, out of it, as a healthy scratch. Purcell has three goals in 37 games but, in search of a spark, the Kings will turn back to him.

"We talked about that yesterday, among the three of us (coaches), for quite a while," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "We need to get the special teams rolling a little bit better, certainly the power play to be more effective. Certainly that's a real strength of Teddy's, I think, with his composure and his vision and puck movement.

"We'll put him in there, and hopefully something good can happen for him. He's been working, as I've mentioned in the past several days, doing all of the stuff that we could possibly expect from him, on the ice and off the ice. I can't leave him out there and let him fade away. He's got to get in."

The Kings enter the game without a goal in their last 21 power-play opportunities (over four games), so Purcell is likely to get an opportunity to play with the power-play unit.

Last season, Purcell had 10 power-play points in 40 games.

"We've been talking about that, Zeus, Fro and myself," Purcell said. "Last year, we had a lot of success because we kept things simple. We were talking about how we haven't really hit our stride yet, because we're not desperate enough to get the puck back on the faceoffs, and our retrievals aren't good enough on the entries. You don't want to do too much. You try to make perfect plays, cross-ice passes aren't there, and you force things.

"You just try to keep things simple, and when that happens, other things will open up. We got on page the last couple days, practicing it and watching some video, so I'm going to be excited if the chance comes tonight, and hopefully we can execute."

Ryan Smyth, who flew on Wednesday to his native Banff, Alberta, to participate in the Olympic torch relay, encountered weather delays in returning to Los Angeles.

Smyth was not on the ice for Thursday's morning skate, but Murray said Smyth was scheduled for a late-morning arrival in Los Angeles.

Still, Murray hedged his bets a bit. He did not, as he normally would, keep a forward who was scheduled to be a healthy scratch on the ice for extra conditioning skating.

Matt Greene, out since Jan. 9 with a lower-body injury, is scheduled to return to the Kings' lineup tonight in place of defenseman Randy Jones.

Davis Drewiske, who is out with a shoulder injury, is "ahead of schedule," according to Murray. Murray said he anticipates Drewiske accompanying the Kings on their upcoming five-game road trip, with the hope that Drewiske might be able to play during the trip.

"I need to discuss that with the medical staff, but that's what I would prefer," Murray said, "so that if it's possible to get into the last game or two, it would be great."

No matter what happens tonight, when the Kings host Buffalo at STAPLES Center, they will not be able to finish their season-long seven-game homestand with a winning record.

The Kings enter tonight with a 2-4 record on the homestand, disappointing for the players and coaches who clearly recognize the importance of winning at home in the second half of the season. Murray, though, chose not to look back when discussing the final game of the homestand.

"We wanted to win every game at home," Murray said. "When you look at your schedule, that's something you really have to buy into and take advantage of. Tonight is going to be a hard game. They have a good team, a very offensive-minded hockey club and a great goaltender. So it's not going to be easy to come by the offensive part of the game, but we need to be a lot more vigilant in our net presence, and digging in, and screening the goaltender. That was a concern after the San Jose game.

"Nabokov made some great stops. We had a lot of good looks, but on the original shot, we just need to get in the goaltender's eyes a little better, maybe a whole lot better than what we have been recently. Certainly, on the power play, that's critical, to have any kind of success on the power play, that you're doing a good job in front of the goaltender."
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