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New Estimate on Smyth's Return

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
He shoots...but he hasn't been scoring. Dustin Brown leads the Kings in shots but hasn't scored in 11 games.

The numbers don't seem to make sense. Kings winger Dustin Brown has five shots on goal one night, seven another, six another...and yet the puck can't find the net. Could it simply be a run of bad luck?

Seems so. Brown routinely leads the Kings in shots -- he has a team-high 100 shots going into tonight's game vs. Ottawa at STAPLES Center -- and puts himself in position to score by playing in front of the opponent's net, but Brown has gone 11 consecutive games without a goal.

Brown entered Thursday as one of only seven players in the NHL to reach the 100-shot plateau, and among them, Brown has the fewest goals (six). Philadelphia's Jeff Carter has nine goals on 107 shots.

"I'm not concerned about it, because of the fact that he is putting a lot of pucks to the net," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "He is getting some really good scoring chances. I think there's a couple of games here where he's had some outstanding chances. He's trying to be a little too fine with it.

"I would say, 'Just keep hitting the net. Keep hitting the goaltender. Close your eyes and throw it right to the net right away, and good things are going to happen.' I like what he's doing. I like his mentality. He's playing hard, he's at the net. I think you go through a little bit of a drought sometimes, whenever you're a player, and I'm looking for a big breakout real soon."

Brown does have three assists in his last six games.

NEW ESTIMATE
The initial estimate for Ryan Smyth's return from his undisclosed upper-body injury was four weeks. On Wednesday, Murray said Smyth would be out a minimum of four weeks, and up to six weeks.

"This is a change," Murray said. "Four to six weeks."

Murray was then asked, why the change?

"Because I’m playing doctor," Murray said. "I want to make sure that he’s 100 percent on this. There’s no way that players need to go back in if they’re not cleared and ready to get going. It will be four weeks, minimum, before he’s going to get cleared."

All week, Smyth has been going through conditioning skating, plus passing and shooting drills, either before or after the Kings practiced. The four-week estimate would have Smyth returning for the start of a three-game trip through Canada, which starts on Dec. 14.

A five-week estimate would essentially be a six-week estimate, since the Kings have an eight-day break starting on Dec. 18.

SCUDERI UPDATE
Rob Scuderi's status is doubtful for tonight's game. Murray said he had anticipated the return of Scuderi, who has missed seven games with a lower-body injury, but was told yesterday that Scuderi might not be ready.

Scuderi got extra skating time after Thursday's morning skate, which is typically an indication that a player will be scratched from the lineup that night.

"In talking with the doctor, and talking with the medical staff here," Murray said, "there's going to be some discomfort in some situations, but there's not a concern that there's going to be any further damage, from what I've been told."

Also, with winger Brandon Segal out of the lineup, Peter Harrold returns and will play right wing on the fourth line.

RESULTS NEEDED
Murray cut in when a reporter started to ask a question about Teddy Purcell going 20 games without a goal.

"It's 23 games," Murray said.

Murray is counting, to be certain, and even though he has had praise for Purcell's overall game, as recently as this week, Murray said it's time to start seeing some results from Purcell, who is now the Kings' second-line left winger, alongside Brown and Jarret Stoll.

Asked how long of a "rope" Purcell would have, in terms of playing on a top-two line and on the power play, Murray said "the rope is getting shorter every game," and pointed to the power-play unit as one area that Purcell might see a reduction in if his scoring output doesn't improve.

"Cutting back on special teams, power play, absolutely," Murray said. "That has to be the first move. Then, after that, we've got to get some people healthy in order for some other moves to be made. But I've also been using (Brad) Richardson up on the left side in certain situations, to give that checking look maybe, and take Purcell off the line. That's still an option for me, any time during the game. I definitely need some numbers to start to be put up on the board."
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