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Training Camp Notebook (Sept. 21)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Oscar Moller scored during the 50-minute scrimmage today.
After four days of intense drills and skating, the Kings will get to have a bit of fun on Wednesday when they open their exhibition schedule with a game at Colorado.

The Kings’ exhibition schedule is a bit front-loaded, with three of the six games to be played in the next two days. The Kings will take 25 players to Denver and Phoenix (for a game Thursday) and the rest will stay behind for Thursday night’s game against the Coyotes at STAPLES Center.

Coach Terry Murray had to tweak his lineup a bit this week. Erik Ersberg had been scheduled to start in goal Wednesday against Colorado, but Ersberg suffered a hand injury in practice Sunday and will not make the trip.

Jonathan Bernier, Jeff Zatkoff and J.F. Berube will make the two-game trip, with Bernier expected to play one full game and the other two goalies expected to split a game.

Jonathan Quick will start Thursday’s game, but Murray left open the possibility that Ersberg will be able to play perhaps one period in that game.

``Everything is fine,’’ Murray said, referring to Ersberg’s hand. ``We had it x-rayed and we had it looked at carefully by the doctors. Ersberg will stay back and we're hoping, with a day of treatment, that he's able to get back, and we'll take a look at it for the Phoenix game at home. Quick will still play, but I'll take a look at it. Maybe there's an opportunity for a period (for Ersberg). I do want Quick to play. The plan is to play him 60 minutes, but with the circumstances, I'll review it.’’

No doubt, the players will welcome a chance to compete against opponents wearing different jerseys. The Kings have been on the ice since Saturday, often in practice sessions lasting up to two hours, so the change of pace is much-anticipated.

Murray said the timing of the initial preseason games is good, and that they fit well with the pace of training camp thus far.

``The players, today, are coming in in such great condition that they only need three days of practice, I think, to get themselves into that mindset,’’ Murray said. ``There's no question that the game coming up right now is good for the group. They want to get going. Watching the scrimmage here today, you could see that extra burst of energy that's out there. They're ready to compete in a real situation now.’’

The Kings held their first intra-squad scrimmage of camp on Tuesday morning, and the ``white’’ team came out with a 3-0 victory over the ``black’’ team in the 50-minute game.

Brayden Schenn and Oscar Moller scored goals, and Anze Kopitar added a goal on a penalty shot. The goalie tandem of Quick and Martin Jones bested the goalie tandem of Bernier and Zatkoff. Bernier allowed one of the goals and Zatkoff the other two.

Most notable about the scrimmage, perhaps, was the first real look at Murray’s emphasis on more aggressive offensive-zone entries.

The Kings’ centers showed the willingness and ability to carry the puck across the blue line and initiate offensive chances, rather than pushing the puck into the corner and having the forwards try to dig it out. It’s a sign of things to come, Murray said.

``Possession entries and attacks are going to be a big focus of the training camp,’’ Murray said. ``We want to push that through the exhibition games and have the confidence to create something off the attack, with the read being correct too, that if there's nothing there, don't force plays. You want to then just get it deep. We feel we've got good people down the middle of the ice who can create some plays.

``We love what we have on the back end, especially with Johnson and Doughty. Those guys can get up the ice. They have great reads and shoot the puck so well. That secondary attack today is very important to have.’’
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