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Parse Moves Into the Lineup

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings

DALLAS -- In search of some offense, the Kings have made one lineup change and a couple tweaks on the wings in advance of tonight’s game against the Dallas Stars (FS West, AM 1150, 5:30 p.m. PT).

Scott Parse, a healthy scratch for the previous six games, will go back into the lineup in place of Kevin Westgarth, and Parse will make a high-profile return on the second line with center Mike Richards and right winger Dustin Brown

Dustin Penner, who previously filled that second-line spot, moves to the third line alongside center Jarret Stoll and right winger Brad Richardson, while Ethan Moreau moves to the fourth line to play right wing alongside left winger Kyle Clifford and center Trevor Lewis.

The Kings’ first line of Simon Gagne, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams remains intact as coach Terry Murray hopes to breathe some life into an offense that has totaled three goals in its last three games.

Can Parse make a difference? He has 16 goals in 66 career NHL games, but his season has been a non-starter thus far. He played in the first two games but did not record a point and has been practicing as an ``extra’’ forward every day for almost three straight weeks.

"The offensive part of the game is something that we want to get better at,’’ coach Terry Murray said. "We need better numbers. We’re like third-lowest in the league right now in the offensive category, and we have to get some scoring. Parse is a player that we’ve often talked about, as to why he’s with us. He’s an offensive, creative thinker and he can score some goals. I think he’s getting through his offseason surgery and becoming a healthier player every day. He seems to be skating with more of a purpose out there now in the practice, so I want to get him in and see if he can contribute on that offensive part of the game.’’

The Kings will stay with the same lineup on defense, as Drew Doughty will miss a fifth consecutive game due to injury. Doughty participated in the full morning skate Thursday.

"He’s not cleared to play,’’ Murray said. "He’s cleared to practice, full contact in practice, by the doctor. So he’s getting close, getting better. He’s on the ice doing everything. We’ll get through one more game here without him, and hopefully we can make a decision after that.’’

After tonight, the Kings play Saturday in Phoenix and Sunday in Colorado.

Tonight’s game shapes up as potentially a low-scoring affair. The Kings’ Jonathan Quick and the Stars’ Kari Lehtonen have been two of the NHL’s most effective goalies in the early going of the season, while the Stars have allowed two or fewer goals in eight of their first nine games.

"I thought their game last year, offensively, was pretty effective,"
Murray said of the Stars. "They do some nice things in the offensive zone, change the point of attack, but they have a bigger focus on the checking part. We did see that the last time we were in here, at the end of the year last year, and it’s been a follow-through with it now.
Their awareness without the puck is great. They’re recovering more loose pucks and getting back on the counter-attack because of it.’’

Parse gets another chance tonight, but Trent Hunter will be a healthy scratch for the sixth time in nine games. Hunter moved into a third-line role during training camp but was less effective once the season started and has been out of the lineup since the home opener.

"His game, in training camp, I thought was pretty good on the offensive side of it,’’ Murray said. "His net presence, we talked about after games. His ability to make plays off the boards on breakouts, that was very good. What you’re juggling here, right now, is an Ethan Moreau, who is giving us that size and the grit and the checking and experience. I like what Brad Richardson is bringing us, with energy and quickness and speed on that third line right now with Stoll. Again, it’s a juggling act.

"I could probably get (Hunter) in and look for more from him on the offensive part of things, but I’m going to go with Parse here in this game tonight, and not change two players out. We’ll move through this and we’ll see how it goes, and maybe as we get to the next game or two, we’ll see where Hunter fits in.’’

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