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Morning Skate: Kings Get "Rich"; Segal Flies South

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
The Kings have basically switched out Rich Clune for Brandon Segal, who was claimed by Dallas.

Big moments can happen at any time, even while sitting on a couch playing video games.

That's where Rich Clune was Wednesday, when he got the call that he would be coming to California. At the time, Clune didn't know his final destination, since officially he had been assigned from Manchester of the AHL to Ontario of the ECHL.

Thursday morning, though, Clune learned that Kings forward Brandon Segal had been claimed off waivers by Dallas and that Clune would be called up by the Kings.

Clune, 22, will make his NHL debut tonight against Edmonton at STAPLES Center.

"It's that dream that every kid has, getting to the highest level possible and playing in the NHL," Clune said after Thursday's morning skate. "It's pretty cliche, but there's nothing more true than that. I'm just trying not to think, really, at all. Just play."

Clune has had plenty of time to think over the past four-plus months.

After a strong training camp last September, Clune seemed on the verge of making the Kings' opening-night roster before he injured his groin late in the preseason.

Clune played well in Manchester upon returning to health, then re-injured his groin. Upon his most recent return, he had been playing well in an "energy" role, a role he will try to continue tonight on a line with Raitis Ivanans and Oscar Moller.

Clune had three goals and nine assists in 41 games with the Monarchs this season.

"It took me a while to get going in Manchester," Clune said. "Obviously, you guys have seen it with Jarret Stoll and a couple other guys. Groins are sensitive things, so I kind of fell out of shape after a while. Then things turned around, and we had a great team. If you look at my numbers, people are going to say what they want, but my game is completely opposite from being evaluated by numbers. I've been having a good year, pretty good."

It got much better Thursday morning, with the news that Clune would make his NHL debut. Drafted by Dallas in the third round in 2005, Clune was traded to the Kings two summers ago in the deal that sent Lauri Tukonen to the Stars.

Clune was at home with his roommates when the call came Wednesday.

"I was just sitting on my couch, with (Justin) Azevedo and (Geoff) Walker, and we were playing video games," Clune said. "I got a call, and they just told me I was on a flight to California, and that I would be contacted in the morning as to what my plans were.

"I was a little stressed out, but I'm not really up to date on the Internet transactions, so I didn't know what was going on. Obviously Brandon Segal got picked up by Dallas. I was oblivious to that, so I didn't know what was going on. I just packed a suitcase and headed to the airport."

Erik Ersberg will start in goal for the Kings tonight, as coach Terry Murray said Jonathan Quick is suffering from flu symptoms.

Ersberg has a 3.21 goals-against average and an .882 save percentage in seven games this season, but has played better of late. He allowed two goals in his last start, a 2-1 loss to San Jose on Jan. 11, and two goals in a 2-1 loss at Calgary on Dec. 30.

"I would prefer to have a good game rather than a bad game in the last game," Ersberg said, "so that's good, but ... it was a while ago, so you just go out there and play, pretty much. Just have fun."

Quick did not participate in Thursday's morning skate -- goalie coach Bill Ranford filled in -- but Murray said Quick would be available as a backup in case of injury.

The Kings are 2-0 against the Oilers this season, and the Oilers have lost 11 consecutive road games and have scored more than two goals in only one of their last nine games.

All of that would seem to be in the Kings' favor, but Murray urged caution after watching the Oilers play well in a 3-2 loss to Anaheim on Wednesday night.

"They played pretty well in the last two games," Murray said of the Oilers. "I watched the game last night in Anaheim. At the end of the first period, they very easily could have been up by a couple (goals). They're working through it. Sometimes it's hard, but they're working through it with a lot of intensity, and paying attention to their game.

"For us, as I've mentioned in the past, we don't spend a lot of time looking at who the opponent is. We put a majority of it on our own game, and getting ourselves ready to play. That's going to be critical tonight, that we approach this the right way and bring a good, competitive attitude."
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