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Richardson will take Stoll's place for Kings

by Curtis Zupke

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Lost in the wonder of the Los Angeles Kings’ stomp through the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs was how healthy they stayed. Los Angeles basically used the same lineup, with the exception of injured forward Kyle Clifford.

This season is entirely different, and the latest adjustment will be the absence of center Jarret Stoll after he was knocked out of Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinal series Tuesday night.

San Jose Sharks Raffi Torres delivered the hit and was scheduled for a hearing with the NHL.

Stoll presumably has an upper-body injury, and coach Darryl Sutter said Wednesday, "He’s missing in action” and day-to-day. Asked if it’s a long-term injury, Sutter said, “How long is the series?”

Game 2 is Thursday at Staples Center, and Game 7 is scheduled for May 28. The Kings lead 1-0 after a 2-0 win in Game 1.

Torres hit Stoll at the end of the second period. Stoll did not return to the game, and Torres received a charging penalty.

Sutter said, “I thought [the hit] was careless” and wouldn’t comment on if he thought it was a suspendable offense.

“Who are we to even talk about that stuff?" Sutter said. "Totally leave it to the League and principals to look at those things. It’s just frustrating to see that, that’s all.”

The Kings held an optional skate and those who were available claimed they hadn’t seen replays of the hit.

“I think everyone in this room is probably not be happy about it and everyone over there in their room is OK with it,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said. “It really is up to what the League thinks, and I’m not sure where that’s at. As players, we just focus on playing.”

Sutter said he will insert Brad Richardson into the lineup. The coach could move pieces around because Jeff Carter has played center.

Colin Fraser moved up and centered Stoll’s line of Dustin Penner and Trevor Lewis in Game 1.

“We got good options,” Sutter said. “Brad’s a guy that’s used to playing in our top nine, and we’ll figure that out.”

Richardson was a healthy scratch most of the regular season but played the final 14 games. The versatile forward added some offense with a goal and five assists. He played in 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games last season and filled in when Carter had an ankle injury.

“If tomorrow I’m in, I’m going to bring the best game I can,” Richardson said. “[Stoll] plays with [Penner] and [Lewis] so they’re kind of the checking line, a lot of speed, a lot of straight lines, so that will be my main focus, using speed and trying to bring my best attributes.”

Los Angeles’ defense was hit with the loss of Willie Mitchell before the season, and of Matt Greene, who played the opener and final four games dealing with back surgery. Alec Martinez also missed time. On offense, Clifford was hurt in the first-round series against the St. Louis Blues.

Stoll’s loss hits L.A. in several areas. He’s a key faceoff center and a main piece of their penalty kill. He also plays on the power play. Without Stoll, the Kings lost 14 of 21 faceoffs in the third period of Game 1.

“He was a big part of [our] Stanley Cup [season],” Sutter said. “A really good centerman. A guy who plays minutes, plays special teams, so obviously our player is quite a bit more important than theirs.

“We primarily use four centermen and rotate wingers through, and we had to switch, and I think that did cause a little problem for us.”

Los Angeles was outplayed for about 40 minutes in Game 1 but Jonathan Quick was sharp early and San Jose pointed to not making it difficult on the goalie, who made 16 of 35 saves in the third period.

Torres has a history, notably the 25-game suspension he received last season for his playoff hit that injured Marian Hossa of the Chicago Blackhawks (the suspension was reduced to 21 games). Torres and San Jose coach Todd McLellan each said after the game Tuesday they didn’t think it warranted a penalty.

The Kings shooed away any notion this could change the complexion of the series. Sutter said, “We’re clearly a team that’s not going to lower ourselves to retribution.”

Penner and Stoll played with Torres on the Edmonton Oilers. Penner drew a distinction between the Torres hit and Eric Gryba’s two-game suspension for his hit on Lars Eller in the first-round series between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens.

“This one was ... he probably didn’t need to make that hit,” Penner said. “That’s where I see the difference.”

Penner echoed Sutter that retribution won’t distract the Kings.

“That’s not going to be the case here," Penner said. "We’re emotionally invested enough. We have a lot on the line. We want to defend our previous Stanley Cup, so we’re not going to go looking for bulletin-board material. We don’t need that type of motivation.”

Brown said, “There’s way to do it within the rules and ways to do it throughout a series within the rules, and that’s what we have to do regardless of what happens. Again, it’s playoffs and the best retribution is winning games right now.”

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