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RED WINGS vs. KINGS : NOTES

Visnovsky May Sit Out; Thomas Retains Spot

April 21, 2001|HELENE ELLIOTT

DETROIT — King defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky is doubtful for today's game because of an arm injury he suffered Wednesday in the first period of the team's 4-3 overtime victory over the Red Wings at Staples Center.

The Kings contend Visnovsky was slashed on a play that should have resulted in a penalty. King Coach Andy Murray said the club sent a tape of the incident to the NHL, but club spokesman Mike Altieri said Friday he had received no response.

"It's nothing long term, but he's not as good as we hoped he would be," Murray said of Visnovsky, who missed the series opener because of nerve damage in his left leg.

If Visnovsky can't play, Jaroslav Modry will take his spot. Modry played the first two games of the series and had a minus-one plus/minus rating.

Murray also said winger Scott Thomas, who played Wednesday only because Steve Kelly had flu, will keep his spot today. Thomas played only 54 seconds over the first two periods but ignited the Kings' comeback with his goal from the edge of the crease at 13:53 of the third period.

"We might not wait as long to use him this time," Murray said.

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Detroit Coach Scotty Bowman won't be fined by the NHL for not speaking to reporters after Game 4. However, he was told he must make himself available after the remaining games.

Bowman went to the postgame interview room Wednesday, but Murray had not finished speaking. The Kings ushered Murray off the podium to accommodate Bowman, but he didn't wait. He left the arena to sit on the team bus. Barry Smith, one of Detroit's associate coaches, did speak to reporters.

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King winger Craig Johnson, who suffered a severed tendon in his right ankle Dec. 26 in a freak fall after he scored a goal, has been skating the last three weeks and is holding out hope he might return this season.

"I'm ready," said Johnson, who accompanied the team to Detroit and skated Friday with the extra players. "The doctors aren't and the coaches aren't, but I am."

Johnson had four goals and nine points in 26 games before the injury, which occurred when he scored a goal against San Jose. Upended as he scored, he slid into the end boards and his left skate bumped into his right leg above his skate boot, cutting the tendon, at least one artery and nicking the bone. A millimeter deeper, he said, and he would have risked permanent nerve damage "and I would have been done."

The speedy winger expects to be ready for training camp in October, if not sooner. He has had some discomfort in the scar tissue in the leg, but it hasn't been unbearable.

"They say it takes six months to heal fully, and I'm way ahead of schedule," he said. "I'm shooting for this year. Hopefully we'll go far [in the playoffs] and I can come back.

"I have to have some kind of goal while I go through rehabilitation. It's so boring. Thinking about coming back gives me something to shoot for."

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Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios had the cast removed from his broken left thumb but wouldn't say if he will play without a cast today. . . . The Kings recalled right wing Brad Chartrand and defenseman Andreas Lilja from Lowell of the American Hockey League. The Lock Monsters were eliminated from the playoffs earlier this week. . . . King General Manager Dave Taylor and player personnel director Bill O'Flaherty took advantage of a night off to drive to Grand Rapids, Mich., and scout an International Hockey League game. . . . Through the first four games, defenseman Mathieu Schneider was the Kings' top scorer with four points, all assists. Luc Robitaille, Jozef Stumpel and Eric Belanger are tied for second with three points each. . . . Sergei Fedorov leads Detroit with six points, on two goals and four assists.

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