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Morning Skate: Richardson in for Simmonds

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Brad Richardson will take the place of Wayne Simmonds in the Kings lineup.

The Kings, rolling of late, got rocked Saturday when it was determined that forward Wayne Simmonds will be out of the lineup for an undetermined, but apparently not short, period of time.

Simmonds, one of the Kings' most valued players this season, for his all-around strong game, has a "lower-body injury," according to coach Terry Murray, who said Simmonds is scheduled to be evaluated by a team doctor at STAPLES Center tonight when the Kings host Dallas.

"He’s just got a lower-body injury and he’s going to be out a while," Murray said Saturday morning.

Simmonds, who has nine goals, 11 assists and a plus-13 rating in 33 games this season, played all 82 games as a rookie last season and will miss the first game of his NHL career tonight. Simmonds played 18 minutes, 18 seconds on Thursday against Phoenix and didn't appear to be in any discomfort.

"You know, we really don’t know what happened," Murray said. "It did not happen in the game. There is no specific time or situation."

Peter Harrold will rejoin the lineup as the fourth-line right winger, alongside center Oscar Moller and Raitis Ivanans, who will also rejoin the lineup in place of defenseman Davis Drewiske.

Brad Richardson, the usual fourth-line center, will move up to play left wing on the third line alongside center Michal Handzus and Scott Parse, who will move from the left side to the right.

The loss of Simmonds is a big one for the Kings, as he is regularly one of their top forwards.

"It's significant," Murray said. "When you lose a player that's playing on your top three lines on a regular basis, and having an impact on the game, you'll notice it almost immediately. Simmer has been playing well. He's hard, he's gritty. He's been doing really good things with the puck, making plays. Has a presence in every game that he's been playing. "

Ryan Smyth (upper-body injury) once again participated in the morning skate, but still has not been cleared to play. The situation continues to be day to day, and Smyth was scheduled to be evaluated again today.

Murray reiterated today that he will put Smyth in the lineup as soon as Smyth is cleared to play.

"That certainly will be the scenario," Murray said, "as soon as I get some information on that, the green light that he's ready to go and he's fine, that there's no further concerns. He will be in the lineup."

Moller, Parse and Richardson will all be playing different positions than they did in the last game.

The most interesting move might be Moller. He's a natural center, but the Kings essentially made an organization-wide decisions this season that Moller would become a full-time winger. Moller today estimated that he has spent 80-90 percent of this ice time this season as a winger.

Murray expressed some trepidation with the move, but Harrold spent some time at center last season, and Murray said he would flip the two players if it appeared as though Moller was having difficulty.

"I have a little bit of concern there, with that," Murray said, "but I think on the other side of it, with Harry on the right wing, that's a role that I think he can deal with. I talked to him about it last year, at the end of the season, and in training camp. I think he can make that switch very easily."

Richardson makes the move up in the lineup, although he's not unfamiliar with that. Late in recent games, Richardson has sometimes been moved up into higher-profile roles.

"I think it's good for Richie to get the opportunity to move to a higher line," Murray said. "He's been playing very well for us. It gives him an opportunity to become a more important player than what he has been so far this year. We value him."
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