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ROYAL ROAD REPORT: ERSBERG IN

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings

CALGARY - Goalie Erik Ersberg will get the call between the pipes tonight when the L.A. Kings face off against the Calgary Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

"It’s a while ago since I played, so it’s nice to get a game," said Ersberg following the morning skate.

Ersberg, who has an 8-10-5 record to go with a 2.58 GAA and a .900 SV%, hasn’t played since stopping 26 shots in a 4-3 loss to the Nashville Predators at the STAPLES Center on March 16.

"He hasn’t played a lot in the last while, but whenever he’s been put in, he’s played very well," said head coach Terry Murray. "I look for the same from him. He’s a competitive guy. He feels good, he’s fresh, he’s on top of his game and I expect a solid performance."

Ersberg will be looking for his first victory since backstopping the Kings to a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild at home on Dec. 13.

"Up until Christmas it went pretty good and then I had an injury," said Ersberg, who has battled both groin and knee ailments this season.

Up until tonight, Jonathan Quick had made nine straight starts, including a 29-save performance in a 6-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes at home on Saturday.

Murray will most likely call upon Quick once again when the Kings face the Oilers in Edmonton tomorrow night.

"You’ve got to have two guys going," Murray said. "Whenever you do need someone else to go in, that back-up guy needs to be good and solid and dependable."

TOP LINE CLICKING
After missing five games with a lower body injury, forward Alexander Frolov made his return to the L.A. lineup and scored his 29th and 30th goals of the season against the Coyotes.

"It was really important to get our confidence back," said Frolov, who played on a line with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams. "Of course, when you score a couple goals, it’s always good."

After the Phoenix game, Murray commended the line for having solid chemistry together and will keep the trio together against the Flames.

"We’re really looking to give everything we can and to play good hockey," Frolov said. "We’ve got to put the puck deep and battle for the puck in the offensive zone and put it on net and try to do some damage. To be successful, you have to do that."

Williams and Kopitar notched a goal and two assists each against Phoenix.

"I don’t see why the chemistry shouldn’t continue," Williams said. "When our lines going, we should be dominant on the ice and we should be able to create opportunities and create momentum for our team."

KINGS PROSPECT LEADING HITMEN CHARGE
Netminder Martin Jones had a free-agent tryout with the Kings and wound up earning an entry-level contract.

Afterwards, Jones returned to the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League and compiled a 45-5-3 record, a 2.08 GAA, a .915 save percentage and seven shutouts during the regular season.

The 19-year-old native of North Vancouver, B.C., has been even better in the playoffs as he lead the Hitmen to a four-game sweep of the Edmonton Oil Kings in the first round.

On Sunday at the Saddledome, Jones made 23 saves and was named third star of Calgary’s 2-1 win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

"It’s definitely nice to win those one-goal games," Jones said following the win that gave the Hitmen a 2-0 lead over the Hurricanes in the best-of-seven series. "It’ s a big confidence booster knowing you can hold a lead like that going into the third."

So far in the playoffs, Jones has a 6-0 record to go with a miniscule 0.82 GAA, an impressive .961 save percentage and one shutout.

"Martin’s played extremely well," said Hitmen Head Coach Dave Lowry. "We’ve said that all year long. That’s what we expect out of Marty. We expect him to win hockey games and when we do have breakdowns, make the saves."

QUOTES
Justin Williams
On Frolov’s return to the lineup:
"Having him back in the lineup was huge for us. He takes up a lot of space out there. In turn, that gives myself and Kopitar a lot of room to work."

On battling though three injuries (knee, Achilles tendon, broken hand) in the past year:
"I think I was naive of the fact that I could come back and be the same player that I was immediately. I’ve had two major surgeries within one calendar year and that’s going to take a toll on you. I’m starting to feel better. The last few games are going to be critical for me as will the next summer coming up."

Terry Murray
On Saturday’s 6-1 win over the Coyotes:
"We really had good structure to our play in the offensive zone. We had traffic at the net on a consistent basis. I think that had been lacking for maybe two-three games. Whenever you have that traffic obviously it makes it a little more difficult and getting pucks to the net, we’re finding ways to make plays down there and good things happened."

On L.A.’s three-game road trip to Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver:
"We know as we come up into Canada now for three games, the importance of the games for all of those teams because they’re jockeying for positions and want to have their game into position for the playoffs when they start."

On Calgary’s recent rash of injuries including to defensemen Robyn Regehr and Cory Sarich, who won’t be in the lineup against the Kings:
"It’s unfortunate for Calgary at this time that they have so many guys banged up but we all go through it."

On the play of Doughty this season:
"Drew Doughty’s a very special player. He came into training camp and he looked like he belonged right from the very first time he stepped out on the ice, a lot of confidence, a lot of poise. The fact that he plays as many minutes as he has over the course of the year in all situations, to me is incredible. To me he’s the Rookie of the Year. He’s a big part of the whole picture here. He’s been an impact player for us."

Drew Doughty
On his rookie NHL season:
"
It’s been awesome coming in. I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve just grown as a player and had a lot of help from guys around the room and the coaching staff has shown a lot of faith in me. The key was confidence and as I built that I played better."

On the honor of possibly being a finalist for the Calder Trophy:
"Obviously there are some great rookies this year and a lot of them have been playing well. Just to be even mentioned in that pack, whether I’m nominated or not, is a pretty big honor. I’m not really too worried about it. I’m just trying to address these last four games and play well." 

Dustin Brown
On playing on the second line with Handzus and Simmonds:
"If you’re on that second line your eyes kind of light up because you know you’re going against their second tier defensemen. They have a few defensemen out tonight. Obviously, we expect that top line to produce, but our second and third lines have great opportunities to produce as well."

Denis Gauthier
On motivation to beat his former team for the first time in four games this season:
"We played well against them back home. We didn’t do so well against them last game here. It would be nice to top it off with a good performance here tonight with a win. It’s been a lot of years and a lot of memories for me playing in this city. I’d like to finish this season on a good note against them."

On the play of Doughty this season:
"
He’s way beyond his years. He’s so calm. He plays like he’s been in the league for many seasons. That’s nice. You don’t see that from many 19-year-old defensemen. I project him to be in the elite class of defensemen very shortly in the league. He’s had such an impact on this team so early. I think he deserves to be in the top three for Rookie of the Year. In the next few seasons, I’m pretty sure he’ll be considered for higher honors too."

NOTES
Aside from starting Ersberg in net, Murray said the lineup will remain the same as against the Coyotes. That means that Michal Handzus will center the second line with Dustin Brown and Wayne Simmonds on his wings, Brian Boyle will play between Kyle Calder and Teddy Purcell, while rookie Oscar Moller will play on the fourth line with Raitis Ivanans and Derek Armstrong. … A lot of buzz centered around rookie defenseman Drew Doughty and whether he’ll be a finalist for the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year. Several members of the Calgary media talked to the 6-foot-1, 211-pound blue-liner about his impressive first season in the NHL… Kopitar has scored seven times in 11 career games against the Flames… While defensemen Cory Sarich and Robyn Regehr will be out of Calgary’s lineup with lower body...Williams will play in his 500th NHL game tonight. 

Compiled by Laurence Heinen | Special to LAKings.com

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