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Moller ready to take advantage of prime opportunity

by Curtis Zupke
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. --  Oscar Moller walked into the Los Angeles Kings' dressing room Wednesday and saw a purple jersey in his locker, the ones designated for the top line.

In other words, Moller will go from playing in the American Hockey League to skating on right wing with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Penner when the Kings host division rival San Jose on Thursday night.

"No pressure," Moller said, joking, when he met with reporters after practice.

Moller was recalled after Justin Williams, the team's second-leading scorer, was ruled out for 3-4 weeks with a dislocated shoulder suffered Monday against Calgary.

"I think this is a very important time of the year for this hockey club," Moller said. "I'm able to play with two great players right now. It's a good opportunity for me to prove myself to the management here and go forward from there."

The Kings are already quite familiar with Moller, who played parts of the past two seasons with them and scored 12 goals with 13 assists in 78 NHL games.  

But has not been up with the big club this season outside of a four-game stint in December in which he had 1 goal and 2 assists. He has 23 goals and 27 assists in 59 games with Manchester this season, including 4 shorthanded goals.

A right wing listed at 5-foot-10, 189 pounds, Moller looks small, especially next to Penner. But he has proven he can score at the NHL level.

Perhaps that's why coach Terry Murray opted not to reshuffle his lines and simply plugged Moller into the top right wing spot.

"The one thing about Oscar, his attitude is fantastic," Murray said. "He's got a great personality.  He's worked very hard on his game in Manchester and he's gotten better: his jump, his strength on the puck, his awareness on the ice, his game has improved."

Murray has no reservations about plugging Moller in on the power play, either. He said Moller stood out during preseason and training camp with his work on the man advantage, where he sets up on the half wall.

Murray said Moller obviously won't fully replace Williams, but he doesn't expect there to be much adjustment given their familiarity with him.

"He's a puck-skilled player," Murray said. "He can fit on different lines. His awareness to the responsibilities within the system are right on every time.

"This is a great opportunity for Oscar, and I think he's very aware of it. … The time is now. He's three years in."
Moller, 22, acknowledged there is some pressure to step in right away and produce at the NHL level, in the thick of a playoff race.

But he's taking a simple approach.

"I can't think like that, you know?" he said. "It's an honor to play with two great players. It's going to be fun."
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