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Morning Skate: No Changes For Kings

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
Alexander Frolov set to make his Stanley Cup playoff debut tonight vs. the Vancouver Canucks.

VANCOUVER – Who knew that Alexander Frolov’s playoff beard would be speckled with gray? After all, this is his first chance to grow one.

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Frolov is the longest-tenured player on the Kings’ roster – he was drafted in the first round in 2000 – and tonight he will get his first taste of the NHL playoffs when the Kings play the Vancouver Canucks in Game 1 of the first round at GM Place.

No player on either roster has waited longer for his postseason debut than Frolov, who appeared in 536 regular-season games since joining the Kings’ roster in 2002.

Frolov, 27, had something of a disappointing year numbers-wise, with 19 goals in 81 games, but his game has been strong of late and he will play an important role on the Kings’ second line alongside center Jarret Stoll and right winger Dustin Brown.

After Wednesday’s morning skate, the normally reserved Frolov seemed to be relishing his first chance to play in the postseason.

"It's great," Frolov said. "As a hockey player, it's everything that you work for, to be here in the playoffs and try to win the Stanley Cup. It's great, especially when it takes that long to get here, to this point. I'm really excited and I'm looking forward to tonight's game. Especially in Canada, it's going to be a great atmosphere, and it's awesome."

Frolov will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and his future with the Kings is uncertain, but Frolov said he doesn’t necessarily view the playoffs as a chance to increase his national profile, at least not at the expense of the team.

"The most important thing is that we have to play as we were during the season, just stick with our game plan," Frolov said. "When we do so, we are a really good hockey club and we can beat any team in the league. I know that, especially sometimes in the playoffs, you try to do something extra, but you have to be really smart about it, because the most important thing is the win. It doesn't really matter who is going to score."

Even though he plays in Los Angeles, Drew Doughty remains a darling of the Canadian media for his performance during Canada’s gold-medal run during the Olympics.

Doughty got some praise Wednesday from Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who was Doughty’s teammate in Vancouver during the Olympics.

"He impressed me," Luongo said. "Obviously he's a very young guy. I didn't really know what to expect, because he was fairly new in the league, but I thought he was one of our best defensemen the whole tourney. For a young age, he's really poised and I think he opened the eyes of a lot of people."

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault also used Doughty as an example of why players’ experience doesn’t necessarily matter to him in this postseason.

"The best example I can give you is Doughty," Vigneault said. "He's a 20-year-old kid that was probably the best defenseman for Team Canada this year. It's about going on the ice and playing. Obviously I think experience is a factor, when you've been through it before. Some guys have been through it at different levels and they've been able to seize the moment."

As for his own coach, Doughty has long had the support and respect of Terry Murray, who pushed for Doughty’s inclusion on Canada’s Olympic team and also has been touting Doughty’s campaign for the Norris Trophy this season.

"I expect Drew Doughty to play, in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the way he played for Canada in the Olympics," Murray said. "He knows how to get himself ready for the big games. He knows how to step up at the right time. He has a tremendous amount of composure. You go right back to the first training camp with that one.You see him step on the ice as an 18-year-old and he just was ready to play hockey. `I'm there, it's the National Hockey League, it's the next step in my career and this is where I'm supposed to be.'

"This is another step in his career. He's had lots of exposure at the international level, and I see him playing a lot of minutes and having a big bite in this series."

As soon as the Kings’ locker room opened after Wednesday’s skate, the media swarmed on goalie Jonathan Quick, who will certainly be a focal point of this series.

Quick set a franchise single-season record with 39 wins this season but also failed to record a win in any of his last eight regular-season starts. Quick matches up against Roberto Luongo, who has a career playoff goals-against average of 2.09.

"I'm very excited to see how Jonathan Quick is going to play in this series against Vancouver," Murray said. "He's got a goalie at the other end that is one of the premier goalies in the league. That, in itself, is a great challenge. Quick has had a great year for us. Thirty-nine wins, a lot of minutes. He's ready. His game, technically, is fine.

"He battled a little bit, post-Olympics, on the emotional side of things, concentration-wise, but as a young player stepping into this kind of moment for him, it's a challenge he's willing to take on. He's, mentally, a tough kid and I know he's going to be able to get the job done for us."

There are no last-minute changes expected for the Kings’ lineup. The healthy scratches are expected to be Rich Clune, Davis Drewiske, Peter Harrold and Scott Parse, none of whom have playoff experience. That means 11 of the Kings’ 18 skaters (forwards and defensemen) will have had previous playoff experience. Quick, in goal, has none.
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