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Morning Skate: Johnson Not Talking; Richardson Playing Well

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Jack Johnson: no longer talking about "Michi-gate."
DETROIT – A year ago, Brad Richardson was out of the Kings’ lineup entirely, the victim of a freak practice accident in which he suffered a cut on his leg.

At the start of this season, Richardson was regarded as little more than a prospective fourth-line player, with some versatility.

Where is Richardson now?

On the Kings’ first line, drawing heavy praise from his coach. It’s the latest step in what, clearly, is the Kings’ greatest success story of the season.

Richardson will start today’s game against Detroit as the Kings’ first-line left winger, alongside center Anze Kopitar and right wing Wayne Simmonds.

"He has played awfully well, in all situations and all of the opportunities that he has gotten," coach Terry Murray said, "from starting as the fourth-line left wing, to third-line left wing, early in the year, to a center iceman on a line with Simmonds and (Scott) Parse. That was probably our best line at that time, through a stretch.

"He brings hard work, intensity. He's got some grit to his game now, and I want to get that hard-work attitude back into our game."

Richardson, who had zero goals and five assists in 31 games last season – his first with the Kings – has six goals and 10 assists in 49 games this season.

But Richardson’s game isn’t so much about points. He earned his spot on the top line not so much because of his offensive potential but because of his willingness to forecheck, work for pucks and play an all-around gritty game.

That, Richardson said, will not change regardless of which line he plays on.

"That makes it easy," Richardson said. "Whether you're on the fourth line or the first line, you just try to create some energy. You're obviously going to get some offensive opportunities, playing with a guy like Kopi, and that's a lot of fun, so I'm just trying to make the most of the opportunity."

One day after, in a published report, referring to comments made by general manager Dean Lombardi as "irresponsible and unprofessional," Kings defenseman Jack Johnson told reporters that he would have no further comment.

The issue was sparked by a blog item, on and (comment on Hockeywood, L.A. or Rich's Blog) in which Lombardi was quoted as heavily criticizing the University of Michigan hockey coaches, and using the comments to illustrate Johnson’s development as an NHL player. Lombardi later said he intended for the comments to be for "background" only.

Johnson, in the immediate aftermath, defended the Michigan program, and himself, and criticized Lombardi for making the comments. On Saturday, Johnson said he had spoken with Lombardi about the issue and wouldn’t comment further.

"I've spoken my piece about it," Johnson said. "I don't really have anything else to say about it, other than what I said. I think if you guys [reporters] want any more comments, you should talk to Dean. He's the one who made the comments."

On a lighter note, the trip to Detroit afforded Johnson the rare opportunity to go home, see family and watch Michigan beat Ferris State 2-0.

"I went to see a couple close friends, family and former teammates, and went home for the night," Johnson said. "I got to sleep in my own bed. Really nice. You don't often get a chance to go home during the year, so it was a nice chance for me to go home and see a lot of friends and get a chance to catch up with some people."

Murray said he intends to use the same lineup as he did in Thursday’s victory over Buffalo, meaning Raitis Ivanans and Randy Jones will be the healthy scratches...Kings Lineup

Davis Drewiske continues to skate as he rehabs his shoulder injury. Murray said it’s possible that Drewiske might play next Saturday at Boston or next Sunday at New Jersey...Injury Report


The Kings’ last game against Detroit is one they want to remember and forget at the same time. The Kings lost, 2-1, on Darren Helm’s goal with 18 seconds remaining, but the Kings also dominated that third period and totaled 52 shots on goal.

Murray said he would bring that game to the players’ attention before today’s game.

"We had quite a discussion about that one the next day, in the postgame review with the team," Murray said. "But that will be brought up, absolutely. I thought our game was pretty good there, and we have to bring that same kind of an attitude. I think what's important, when you play a team that has the reputation of Detroit, is that you want to go out and play to win. I think the other side of it enters into the equation too often, as a player, when you're kind of that underdog. You're looking not to make mistakes; you're looking not to lose the game.

"To me, there's a big difference. You're composed, you're skating, you're driving, you're doing things with a lot of confidence, and on the other part of it, you're sitting back on your heels and waiting to see how the game unfolds and letting it come to you. I don't want to play that way here today."


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