Kings coach Terry Murray witnessed two of the things he dislikes most in hockey: one of his players getting injured, and a 10-man scrum after a clean on-ice hit.
Early in the second period of the Kings' 5-2 victory over Edmonton on Saturday night, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty leveled Edmonton forward Taylor Hall with a check into the boards, sending the Oilers' rookie sprawling to the ice.
Immediately, Oilers and Kings players descended, and a push-and-shove scrum developed. During it, Oilers forward Ales Hemsky grabbed Kings forward Wayne Simmonds from behind and pulled him down. Simmonds appeared to get his right leg caught in the pile of humanity and needed some assistance to get off the ice.
On Sunday, Murray said Simmonds would not play in Monday's game at Dallas or in Tuesday's game at St. Louis. The morning after the play, Murray remained visibly upset at the scrum that led to Simmonds' injury.
"These things are ridiculous," Murray said. "This whole scrum thing is so wrong. That's a great hit by Doughty. This happens around the league now. This is prevalent everywhere. To me, this is an issue that somebody needs to address. You've got Simmonds getting jumped from behind and pulled backwards, and we've now lost a player, for certainly these two games. I've seen this around the league. It's a good hockey hit, and now everybody responds to a hockey hit. We're going to end up taking hits right out of the game, the way things are going right now.
"It's a concern for me. There has to be more (punishment), to me, out of that than just a two-minute minor. Something has to be done to stop this kind of a reaction by the teams. The reaction by the teams, it doesn't make any sense to me. You're just playing the game of hockey, and it's a clean hit. It's one thing if a guy gets run from behind into the boards, and all that, but this is out of control, almost, at times."
After the game, Oilers coach Tom Renney told Edmonton reporters, "I don't know if it [Doughty's hit] was clean or not. … I'd like to see the tape first. It all happened so quickly, but I did like our response to it."
Murray said his view of the post-hit scrums was consistent, that he would feel the same way if an opponent delivered a clean hit on one of the Kings' top players.
"It depends on the hit," Murray said. "(Nashville's Shea) Weber hit Kopitar real hard on a great hockey hit the other night. That's a great hit. That's a clean, good hockey hit. That's a defenseman doing his job. We had no issue with that, whatsoever. Hall went after Doughty right in front of our bench in the first period. That would have been a pretty good hockey hit too, and I even mentioned that after the game. That's a good hockey hit.
"You can't overreact and do these kinds of things that are happening around the game. It becomes a 10-man scrum, and you get injuries. Now we're without an important player, and there's a two-minute minor out of it? Whether it goes through the PA [players' association] themselves, and they start to address it, or it's something from other places, it's just not right, the reaction of the players."
Murray said Simmonds, who is officially out with a lower-body injury, would stay in Los Angeles and have an MRI on Monday.
"He had some swelling overnight," Murray said, "so with that, we're going to leave him behind to get therapy, and he will get an MRI done on Monday, tomorrow. We'll get a better idea, then, of what the extent of it all is, but there's just too much swelling here, right now, to bring him on the trip, hoping that maybe he would be a part of the second game. It's not going to happen."
BERNIER TO START AGAIN
Jonathan Bernier got the win against Edmonton on Saturday, so it seemed natural to assume that the Kings would go back to No. 1 goalie Jonathan Quick on Monday.
Not so fast. Bernier will start against the Stars, Murray said.
"He won," Terry Murray said. "He won. He's playing. He won. Period."
The Kings had lost seven of their previous eight games before Saturday, when Bernier stopped 24 of 26 shots to beat the Oilers. And what happens if Bernier wins Monday?
"Then he might go again," Murray said, referring to Tuesday's game at St. Louis. "We're going to win some games. We're going to go with a lineup that's winning. We've got to win."
WESTGARTH TO RETURN
With Simmonds out for the next two games, Murray said Kevin Westgarth would return to the lineup in a fourth-line role with center Michal Handzus and winger Alexei Ponikarovsky.
The first line of center Anze Kopitar and wingers Ryan Smyth and Justin Williams is expected to remain intact. Jarret Stoll is expected to center Marco Sturm and Dustin Brown, while Brad Richardson is expected to center Kyle Clifford and Trevor Lewis, although Murray said he would consider in-game changes.
"I liked what Zeus did," Murray said. "He didn't play as many minutes, or as important a role as in other games, but I liked him. He had good jump, and he's just going to battle his way through. He's going to work at it and things are going to turn around for him. If it happens like that, in the next game, I'm not concerned. I'll get him going with more of a workload."